A Man of Influence and Controversy
While he has become a controversial figure, Jann Wenner is one of the most influential non-musicians in the history of music. He was born Jann Simon Wenner on January 7, 1946 in New York City, New York. He grew up in a secular Jewish family in the San Francisco Bay Area. He dropped out of the University of Berkeley in 1966 and founded Rolling Stone magazine the following year.
The first issue was published on November 9, 1967. It featured John Lennon on the cover. Wenner viewed it as a mix of a magazine and newspaper that covered music as well as other popular culture and current events. See the DMDB post about it here.
The magazine has published more than a thousand issues and has a circulation of 1.4 million. Wenner and the magazine played a role in launching the careers of journalist Hunter S. Thompson, critics Greil Marcus and Dave Marsh, movie director Cameron Crowe, and photographer Annie Liebovitz.
In 1983, Wenner and a small group of record company heads and music industry professionals founded the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted its first class on January 23, 1986. See the DMDB post about it here. The Museum opened its doors on September 2, 1995. Read about it here.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has faced criticism that a handful of people, including Jann Wenner, control the nomination process and focus on their personal tastes and nominating artists who will sell tickets to the dinner.
Wenner faced controversy in September 2023 after the publication of his book The Masters: Conversations with Dylan, Lennon, Jagger, Townshend, Garcia, Bono, and Springsteen. When asked about why no black or female artists were included, he said “none of them were articulate enough on this intellectual level.” WK The comments got him removed from the board of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation.
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First posted 1/5/2024.