By the middle of 1967, rock was in full bloom, but the only place to read about the music and the people who made it was in teen magazines like Tiger Beat and 16 and in occasional pieces in Life, Look and the other mainstream glossies. Underground newspapers covered rock with an amateur’s enthusiasm and a few jazz critics occasionally mentioned that something interesting was going on among the kids, but rock was clearly an afterthought. In 1966, Swarthmore College undergrad Paul Williams began Crawdaddy, a fanzine that printed thoughtful criticism of rock albums. It was a step in the right direction.
In the autumn of 1967, 21-year-old Berkley dropout Jann Wenner pulled all the pieces together in a bi-weekly publication he called Rolling Stone. Wenner had covered Monterey Pop Festival for the left-wing Ramparts and recognized a new counterculture emerging. He knew it because he was part of it. He knew that the music was not a sideshow to new ways of thinking about politics, sex, drugs, and peace—music was the connective tissues. He understood that not everyone wanted to ask Jerry Garcia and Sly Stone and Pete Townshend, “What kind of girls do you go for?” With the help of the great jazz critic and San Francisco Chronicle columnist Ralph J. Gleason, Wenner launched the publication he named after songs by Muddy Waters and Bob Dylan and after “the greatest rock & roll band in the world.”
From the start, Rolling Stone had music at its center but it was never just a music magazine. Politics, culture and serious reporting were always part of Rolling Stone. The shape of the magazine has changed many times in 50 years, but its scope and its standards have been constant. The currents Wenner recognized in 1967 still run strong today.
Jann Wenner Interview. 2004 Induction Ceremony
Uncut interview with 2004 inductee Jann S. Wenner created for use in the ceremony. He discusses his journalism career, the importance of Rolling Stone magazine, and the intersection of music and politics. Includes shots of Rolling Stone covers displayed at the magazine's headquarters. Available onsite only.
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