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The Rockin' Rise of Jann Wenner: How One Man Changed Music Journalism Forever

by Editorial Staff 24 Apr 2023

In the world of music journalism, few names are as legendary as Jann Wenner. As the founder of Rolling Stone magazine, Wenner revolutionized the way we think about rock music, pop culture, and political commentary. But how did he get his start, and what made him so successful? Let's take a closer look at the life and career of this iconic figure.

The Early Years: From Kid Reporter to Magazine Maven

Jann Wenner was born on January 7, 1946, in New York City. From a young age, he showed a keen interest in journalism, writing for his high school newspaper and even interviewing Bob Dylan at the age of 16. After attending the University of California, Berkeley, Wenner founded Rolling Stone in San Francisco in 1967, when he was just 21 years old.

At first, the magazine was a small, scrappy operation, relying on borrowed funds and a staff of passionate writers to cover the emerging rock music scene. But Wenner had a vision for what he wanted Rolling Stone to be: a place where music, politics, and culture could all intersect. He hired some of the best writers in the business, including Hunter S. Thompson, Tom Wolfe, and Greil Marcus, and gave them free rein to write about whatever interested them.

The Rolling Stone Revolution: Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll

It wasn't long before Rolling Stone became the go-to source for music news and commentary. But what really set the magazine apart was its willingness to tackle controversial subjects, from drug use to sexual liberation to political activism. Wenner and his team of writers weren't afraid to take a stand on the issues of the day, and they did so with a voice that was both irreverent and insightful.

One of the most famous examples of this was Hunter S. Thompson's coverage of the 1972 presidential campaign, which became the basis for his book Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72. Thompson's gonzo-style reporting, which blended fact and fiction, was a hallmark of Rolling Stone's coverage of politics and social issues.

But the magazine's bread and butter was still music. Wenner and his team were on the front lines of the rock & roll revolution, covering bands like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Led Zeppelin with a passion that was infectious. Rolling Stone's coverage of Woodstock in 1969 became the stuff of legend, with its iconic cover featuring a naked couple embracing in the mud.

The Legacy of Jann Wenner: From Rolling Stone to Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Under Wenner's leadership, Rolling Stone became more than just a magazine; it became a cultural touchstone. The magazine's influence spread beyond the world of music, with its coverage of Watergate and the Vietnam War helping to shape public opinion. And Wenner himself became a fixture in the worlds of media and entertainment, hobnobbing with the likes of Mick Jagger, Andy Warhol, and John Lennon.

But Wenner's impact on music journalism didn't end with Rolling Stone. In 1983, he founded the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, which has since become a mecca for music lovers and a showcase for some of the greatest performers of all time. Wenner served as chairman of the Hall of Fame for many years, and his influence can still be seen in its operations today.

The Lasting Influence of Jann Wenner: A Rock & Roll Rebel with a Cause

Jann Wenner may have retired from Rolling Stone in 2017,but his legacy lives on. His impact on music journalism and pop culture is still felt today, nearly 60 years after he first founded the magazine. Rolling Stone is still one of the most respected and widely read publications in the world, and its influence on music, film, and television is undeniable.

But Wenner's influence goes beyond just Rolling Stone. He was a true rock & roll rebel, a man who believed in the power of music to change the world. He used his platform to advocate for social justice, environmentalism, and other causes that were important to him, and he inspired a generation of journalists and writers to follow in his footsteps.

In the end, Jann Wenner's story is the story of the American dream: a young man with a vision, who worked hard to make that vision a reality, and who changed the world in the process. He may have started out as just another kid reporter with a dream, but he ended up becoming one of the most influential figures in music history. And for that, we should all be grateful.

Hey there! I'm Chuck, the Editor-in-Chief at Local Threads. We’re on a mission to showcase founders of start-ups and help them shine and tell the world about themselves, their products, and their vision in life. We see value in the stories of big brands and their founders as well. Their success can be a source of inspiration for start-ups. 

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