Chris Willman-Senior USA Rock Love Celebrity Music Chris Willman-Senior USA

Jann Wenner on His Encounters With Rock’s Movers and Shakers and Having ‘Little Filter’ in His New Memoir, ‘Like a Rolling Stone’

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Chris Willman Senior Music Writer and Chief Music Critic Jann Wenner is not just “like” a rolling stone — he was Rolling Stone, for most of the magazine’s history, to the extent that it very closely followed his melange of sensibilities from its 1967 founding until he sold off his last stake in it three years ago. [It’s now owned wholly by Penske Media, the parent company of Variety.] If you’re a longtime subscriber, reading his new memoir, “Like a Rolling Stone,” may feel like having your life flash before your eyes… except for the parts where he is, say, yachting with Jackie Onassis.

But Wenner’s publishing empire (which also grew to incorporate Us Weekly at its millennium-spanning peak) long represented an era in which rock ‘n’ roll and the counterculture could rub up against bith the seriousness of American politics and the ephemerality of celebrity infatuation, and none of these elements would come out too much worse for the wear of coexisting in one biweekly package.

Wenner joined Variety for two Zoom sessions from his home to talk about the alternately dishy and ruminative book, and the almost six decades of affecting and reflecting the culture that fed into it. (This Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.) The book serves as both a personal memoir and a history of Rolling Stone.

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