Not a book as you might expect about the Rolling Stones, this lengthy work is actually about Rolling Stone magazine – indeed it is subtitled The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine, which about says it all really.
I’m not sure there’s ever really been a UK equivalent to this magazine, which covers both music, politics and current affairs, and as such the magazine has accumulated much more cultural importance in the States than it has here, where it’s quite a niche read, concentrating as it does pretty much solely on matters American.
The first edition appeared in 1967, and came with a free roach clip. Over the years though it gradually went from being at the forefront of the music and counterculture scene to becoming an established and respectable pillar of the society it once rebelled against.
Of course, its prime time was in the late sixties and seventies, when it was the go-to place for big name rock interviews. Those halcyon days, when interviewees were often paid with an envelope of cocaine, are covered in depth, and there are mini-biographies included of its most famous contributors such as Hunter S Thompson, Joe Eszterhas and Annie Leibowitz. However, the thread that continues throughout the years and holds the book together is the complex and fraught relationship between Jann and Jane Wenner. There’s plenty of drugs and sex fuelled tales of the magazine’s heyday, so many that apparently the author and the Wenners are no longer on speaking terms. It is an entertaining read, if a little too in depth at times for a casual reader of the magazine such as myself. It does, however, do a first class job of charting the history of the magazine from its beginnings as a scrappy underground rag to its current format as a shiny entertainment industry bible.
Length of Read:Long
Might appeal to people who enjoyed…
Rock and counterculture histories.
One thing you’ve learned
Over the period from 2016 to 2017, the Wenner’s finally sold their stake in the magazine they had grown from such humble beginnings.