Jann Simon Wenner (born January 7, 1946) is the co-founder and publisher of the music and politics biweekly Rolling Stone, as well as the current owner of Men's Journal and Us Weekly magazines.
Wenner was born in New York City and grew up in a secular Jewish family. His parents divorced in 1958, and he and his sisters, Kate and Merlyn, were sent to boarding schools to live. He graduated from high school at Chadwick School in 1963 and went on to attend the University of California, Berkeley. Before dropping out of Berkeley in 1966, Wenner was active in the Free Speech Movement and produced the column "Something's Happening" in the student-run newspaper, The Daily Californian. With the help of his mentor, San Francisco Chronicle jazz critic Ralph J. Gleason, Wenner landed a job at Ramparts, a high-circulation muckraker, where Gleason was a contributing editor and Wenner worked on the magazine's spinoff newspaper.
In 1967, Wenner and Gleason founded Rolling Stone in San Francisco. To get the magazine off the ground, Wenner borrowed $7,500 from family members and from the family of his soon-to-be wife, Jane Schindelheim. In the summer following the start of the magazine, Wenner and Schindelheim were married in a small Jewish ceremony.
Wenner backed the careers of writers such as Hunter S. Thompson, Joe Klein, Cameron Crowe, and Joe Eszterhas. Wenner also discovered photographer Annie Leibovitz when she was a 21-year-old San Francisco Art Institute student. Many of Wenner's proteges, such as writer/director Cameron Crowe, credit him with giving them their biggest break. Tom Wolfe recognized Wenner's influence in ensuring that his first novel, The Bonfire of the Vanities, was completed, stating "I was absolutely frozen with fright about getting it done and I decided to serialize it and the only editor crazy enough to do that was Jann."
In 1977, Rolling Stone shifted its base of operations from San Francisco to New York City. The magazine's circulation dipped briefly in the late 1970s/early 1980s as Rolling Stone responded slowly in covering the emergence of punk rock and again in the 1990s, when it lost ground to Spin and Blender in coverage of hip hop. Wenner hired former FHM editor Ed Needham, who was then replaced by Will Dana, to turn his flagship magazine around, and by 2006, Rolling Stone's circulation was at an all-time high of 1.5 million copies sold every fortnight. In May 2006, Rolling Stone published its 1000th edition with a holographic, 3-D cover modeled on The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover.
Wenner has been involved in the conducting and writing of many of the magazine's famous Rolling Stone Interviews. Some of his more recent interview subjects have included: Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, and Barack Obama for the magazine during their election campaigns and in November 2005 had a major interview with U2 rockstar Bono, which focused on music and politics. Wenner's interview with Bono received a National Magazine Award nomination.
Rolling Stone and Jann Wenner are chronicled in two books, Gone Crazy and Back Again as well as Rolling Stone: The Uncensored History. Former Rolling Stone journalist David Weir is working on a biography, as is poet and Beat historian Lewis MacAdams.
Wenner founded the magazine Outside in 1977; William Randolph Hearst III and Jack Ford both worked for the magazine before Wenner sold it a year later. He also briefly managed the magazine Look and in 1993, started the magazine Family Life. In 1985, he bought a share in Us Weekly, followed by a joint purchase of the magazine with The Walt Disney Company the following year. The magazine went weekly in 2000; after a rocky start, it now reaches over 11 million readers a week. In August 2006, Wenner bought out Disney's share and now owns 100% of the magazine.
From 2004 to 2006, Wenner contributed approximately $63,000 to Democratic candidates and liberal organizations.
Wenner was credited with spawning the music sensitized generation that served as the launchpad for the visions of Apple Computer co-founder Steve Jobs in an October 2010 Huffington Post column by Eric Ehrmann, one of his early Rolling Stone writers.
Wenner and his wife separated in 1995, though Jane Wenner still remains a vice president of Wenner Media. She and Wenner have three sons, Alexander Jann, Theodore Simon, and Edward Augustus.
Since 1995, Wenner's partner has been Matt Nye, a fashion designer. Together, Wenner and Nye have three children, Noah and twins Jude & India Rose.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame controversy
Wenner, who co-founded the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation in 1983, has endured quite a bit of controversy during his career as it relates to his involvement in the organization. Fans and supporters of several artists, which include Chicago, Deep Purple, The Doobie Brothers, Kansas, KISS, The Monkees, Electric Light Orchestra, Yes, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Motörhead, Jethro Tull, Linda Ronstadt, The Marvelettes, Chubby Checker, Mary Wells, The B-52s, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Dokken, Warrant, Ratt, Queensrÿche, Mötley Crüe, Rory Gallagher, Journey, Judas Priest, Dio, Foreigner, Iron Maiden, The Guess Who, Bachman–Turner Overdrive, The Moody Blues and Jan and Dean, have placed a large amount of blame on Wenner for keeping them out of the Hall of Fame. They claim Wenner has lobbied to keep them from consideration and nomination to the Hall based on personal bias and a dislike for their music. Supporters of Beatles/Mersey Beat champion and manager, Brian Epstein, also feel that he has been unfairly precluded from nomination for honor in the Non-Performer category. This omission has given rise to much speculation as to the possible reasons for Wenner's consistent snubbing of Epstein's arguably inestimable contribution to the infrastructure of rock and roll.
In June 2007, Monkees bassist Peter Tork came forward and alleged to the New York Post that Wenner is excluding the group:
|“||[Wenner] "doesn't care what the rules are and just operates how he sees fit. It is an abuse of power. I don't know whether The Monkees belong in the Hall of Fame, but it's pretty clear that we're not in there because of a personal whim." Tork believes Wenner doesn't like the fact that The Monkees, who were originally cast as actors for a TV sitcom, didn't play their own instruments on their first two records. "Jann seems to have taken it harder than everyone else, and now, 40 years later, everybody says, 'What's the big deal? Everybody else does it.' Nobody cares now except him. He feels his moral judgment in 1967 and 1968 is supposed to serve in 2007.||”|
Hunter S. Thompson
Hunter S. Thompson was to provide Rolling Stone coverage for the 1976 Presidential Campaign that would appear in a book published by the magazine. Reportedly, as Thompson was waiting for a $75,000 advance cheque to arrive, he learned that Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner had canceled the endeavor without telling Thompson.
Wenner then asked Thompson to travel to Vietnam to report on what appeared to be the closing of the Vietnam War. Thompson accepted, and left for Saigon immediately. He arrived with the country in chaos, just as the United States was preparing to evacuate and other journalists were scrambling to find transportation out of the region. While there, Thompson learned that Wenner had canceled this excursion as well, and Thompson found himself in Vietnam without health insurance or additional financial support. Thompson's story about the fall of Saigon would not be published in Rolling Stone until ten years later.
These two incidents severely strained the relationship between the author and the magazine, and Thompson contributed far less to the publication in later years
Awards and honors
- Working with a small group of distinguished record company heads and music industry professionals, Wenner co-founded the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation in 1983.
- Wenner produced Boz Scaggs's self-titled major label debut album in 1969.
- Wenner made a guest "appearance" in the Marvel Comic "Daredevil" issue 100 in 1973, in which he interviews the Superhero, who is thereby motivated to remember his origins (which he shares with the readers of the comic, but not with Wenner.)
- In 1985, he produced and appeared as himself in the movie Perfect with Jamie Lee Curtis and John Travolta. He also had cameo roles in Cameron Crowe's films Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous.
- In 1985, Wenner had a Rolling Stone cover photograph of Don Johnson digitally edited to remove the handgun and holster from the Miami Vice star because of Wenner's opposition to handguns.
- Wenner endured controversy when he fired notable rock critic Jim DeRogatis in 1996 after DeRogatis published a negative review for an album by the then popular band Hootie and the Blowfish. Wenner was reportedly angry because the band's record label, Atlantic Records, bought lots of advertising in the magazine and were expecting a good review for the band's sophomore effort, Fairweather Johnson. Wenner pulled DeRogatis' review from the magazine. Asked by the New York Observer if Wenner was a fan of Hootie and the Blowfish, DeRogatis responded that Wenner "is a fan of any band that sells eight million records." Wenner fired DeRogatis the next day.
- The American Society of Magazine Editors inducted Wenner into their Hall of Fame in 1997, making him the youngest editor ever inducted.
- Amy Ray lambasted Wenner as "Rolling Stone's most fearless leader" in her song "Lucystoners" from her 2001 solo debut Stag, accusing him of discriminating against women artists in favor of a "boys' club of rock."
- In 2004, Wenner was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the Lifetime Achievement category.
- In the fall of 2007, Wenner published an oral biography of Hunter S. Thompson titled "Gonzo: The Life of Hunter S. Thompson." Co-written with Corey Seymour, this work traces the life of Thompson as told through the stories of those closest to him.
Select Rolling Stone Interview bibliography
- Bob Dylan, May 3, 2007 (40th Anniversary Issue)
- Bono, November 3, 2005
- John Kerry, November 11, 2004
- Al Gore, November 9, 2000
- Mick Jagger, December 14, 1995
- Bill Clinton, December 9, 1993
- Jerry Garcia, January 20, 1972
- John Lennon, January 21, 1971
- Bob Dylan, November 29, 1969
- Pete Townshend, September 28, 1968
- ^ JWeekly: "Celebrity Jews" by nate bloom March 26, 2004
- ^ "News". The Daily Californian. 2007-08-20. http://www.dailycal.org/printable.php?id=25647. Retrieved 2007-10-22.
- ^ Salon.com People | Wenner's world
- ^ Draper, Robert (1990). Rolling Stone Magazine: The Uncensored History. Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-26060-1.
- ^ O'Brien, Timothy (2005-12-25). Will You Still Need Me, Will You Still Read Me "News". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/25/business/yourmoney/25wenner.html?_r=1&oref=slogin Will You Still Need Me, Will You Still Read Me. Retrieved 2007-10-31.
- ^ Carlson, Peter (2006-05-06). "News". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/03/AR2006050302531.html. Retrieved 2007-12-13.
- ^ Carlson, Peter (May 4, 2006). "How Does it Feel?". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/03/AR2006050302531.html. Retrieved 2007-11-05.
- ^ Wenner, Jann (2005-11-03). "Bono: The Rolling Stone Interview". http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/8091949/bono. Retrieved 2007-10-31.
- ^ "Faculty: David Weir". Archived from the original on 2007-03-11. http://web.archive.org/web/20070311055615/http://communication.stanford.edu/faculty/weir.html. Retrieved 2007-05-07.
- ^ "Los Angeles Library Foundation". http://www.lfla.org/aloud/july05/l_macadams.htm. Retrieved 2007-10-31.
- ^ Wenner, Jann. "The Huffington Post". http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jann-wenner. Retrieved 2007-10-31.
- ^ Seelye, Katharine Q. (2006-08-10). "Disney to sell its half stake in Us Weekly back to Wenner". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/10/business/media/10mag.htm. Retrieved 2007-11-05.
- ^ Dedman, Bill (15 July 2007). "The list: Journalists who wrote political checks". MSNBC. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19113455/. Retrieved 24 October 2010.
- ^ Daily mail: "Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner finally divorces wife of 43 years... two decades after they split and he moved on with gay lover" By Daniel Bates October 26, 2011
- ^ "Side Dish: Brangelina expecting?". Daily News (New York). 2008-01-27. http://www.nydailynews.com/gossip/2008/01/28/2008-01-28_side_dish_brangelina_expecting.html.
- ^ goldminemag.com
- ^ http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29903313/
- ^ Friedman, Roger (2001-04-04). "Fox 411: Hey Madonna: Girls Already Knew How to Commit Violence". Fox News. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,1966,00.html#second.
- ^ , New Times, 1970-12-10, http://www.gonzo.org/hst/interviews.asp?ID=7 Hunter Thompson Meets Fear and Loathing Face to Face, retrieved 2011-10-18
- ^ "Photojournalism An Ethical Approach, Chapter 6". http://commfaculty.fullerton.edu/lester/writings/chapter6.html.
- ^ http://www.furious.com/perfect/hootie.html
- ^ a b "Inductee Biography". http://www.rockhall.com/inductee/jann-s-wenner. Retrieved 2007-11-05.
- ^ Amy Ray. "background: lucystoners". http://lifeblood.net/songs/background/lucystoners.html. Retrieved 2011-06-10.
- ^ Wenner, Jann; Corey Seymour (2007-10-31). Gonzo: The Life of Hunter S. Thompson. New York, NY: Little, Brown. ISBN 0-316-00527-4.
- ^ Wenner, Jann (2007-05-03). "Interview with Bob Dylan for RS 40th Anniversary Issue". Rolling Stone (1025/1026).
- ^ Wenner, Jann (2005-11-03). "Bono". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 2007-08-24. http://web.archive.org/web/20070824055416/http://www.rollingstone.com/bonovox. Retrieved 2007-11-06.
- ^ Wenner, Jann (2004-11-11). "John Kerry". Rolling Stone. http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/6562106/john_kerry. Retrieved 2007-11-06.
- ^ Wenner, Jann (2000-11-09). "Al Gore". Rolling Stone (836).
- ^ Wenner, Jann (1995-12-14). "Jagger Remembers". Rolling Stone. http://www.rollingstone.com/news/coverstory/mick_jagger_remembers/page/2. Retrieved 2007-11-06.
- ^ Wenner, Jann (1993-12-09). "President Bill Clinton". Rolling Stone (671).
- ^ Wenner, Jann (1972-01-20). "Jerry Garcia". Rolling Stone (100).
- ^ Wenner, Jann (1971-01-21). "John Lennon". Rolling Stone. http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/16313366/john_lennon_the_rolling_stone_interview. Retrieved 2007-11-06.
- ^ Wenner, Jann (1969-11-29). "Bob Dylan". Rolling Stone (47).
- ^ Wenner, Jann (1968-09). "Pete Townshend: The Rolling Stone Interview". Rolling Stone. http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/15287871/exclusive_audio_jann_wenners_1968_interview_with_pete_townshend. Retrieved 2007-11-14.
- The Official Jann S. Wenner Website
- Jann Wenner at Notable Names Database
- Jann Wenner at the Internet Movie Database
- Jann Wenner on Charlie Rose
- How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Jann Wenner Article by David Dalton in Gadfly
- An In-Depth Interview With Jann Wenner at Business Week
- Audio of Jann S. Wenner's historic interview with John Lennon, conducted in December 1970 at Rolling Stone.com
- Wenner, Jann. "Our 1000 Issue". http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/10224178/our_1000th_issue. Retrieved 2007-11-05.
- Will You Still Need Me, Will You Still Read Me? Article from the New York Times, December 25, 2005
- The Origins of Rolling Stone Article from The Daily Californian August 20, 2007
- How Does It Feel Article from The Washington Post May 4, 2006
- Revolutionary, wild, unpredictable- and that was just the writers Article from The Independent (London) May 10, 2006