Excellent 5 min video. Joe Ragan. Rolling Stone and Jann Wenner


Interview with “Sticky Fingers” author on the “messy” story of Rolling Stone Magazine.

Watched this fun, intelligent, smart and witty author discuss the journey of writing his book (“Sticky Fingers) about Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone. Wenner cooperated with author Joe Hagan for 4 years, turning over his entire archives and memorabilia.  That co-operation ended with the publication of “Sticky Fingers”.  Wenner didn’t feel the story was reverential of himself.  From the “Recode Review

In 1967, Jann Wenner loaded himself into a slingshot and fired himself across the next half-century of pop culture. In the new book “Sticky Fingers,” biographer Joe Hagan chronicles how Wenner created Rolling Stone magazine and became the gatekeeper of rock music — and eventually, all pop culture.


Jann Wenner didn’t see the internet coming. And Joe Hagan says that critical “miss” is a “Shakespearean moment”   See: “How Rolling Stone co-founder Jann Wenner built and lost a rock-and-roll empire”

   Get the book: “Sticky Fingers”


I subscribed to Rolling Stone in college. It was a “must read”if you were into music and issues of the day.  Jann Wenner assembled a stable of amazing writers.. Joe Eszterhas,  Ben Fong-Torres, former Presidential Speech Writer Richard N Goodwin, Cameron Crowe, New Journalism pioneer Tom Wolfe, and the inventor of “Gonzo Journalism” Hunter S. Thompson among others. Best selling books came from this talented group. They didn’t just “write” — to “read” their pieces was to “vicariously” live the story!  They covered the Patty Hearst and Charlie Manson story in detail. Vietnam and the My Lai Massacre. Russell Means and the American Indian Movement. Rolling Stone fronted Hunter S Thompson on the road in the 1972 Presidential Campaign.  They did serious work.  My best friend was a guitarist in a rock band and I was working as a sound crew go-fer on Austin City Limits. Our daily lives in some way connected to the Rolling Stone ethos. Remember the column called “Random Notes”??  You felt like you’d read secret encrypted messages! Because  it was in Rolling Stone!!!   Ha!

“At one time,” Hagan writes, picking up a copy of Rolling Stone was “like holding a piece of hot shrapnel from the cultural explosion of the 1960s while it still glowed with feeling and meaning.”


HST:  “When the going get’s weird, the “weird” turn pro”

I went to see Rolling Stone contributor and Gonzo journalist Hunter S Thompson speak at the University of Texas, Austin campus.  In the audience, we sat on plush red theater seats of the still brand new and pristine  LBJ  Presidential library.  Thompson had a bottle of “Wild Turkey” and a single glass on the speaker’s podium. He draped a white towel around his neck!!!  That was Thompson’s “speaking outfit”.  Yet Thompson was not frivolous.  He corresponded with  LBJ during his Presidency.

Doris Kearns Goodwin and Richard N Goodwin

Doris Kearns & Richard N Goodwin

I got in a question from the audience.  I  asked Thompson about the editorial process of  Rolling Stone magazine. I noted that his fellow writer and Rolling Stone Washington DC bureau chief,  Richard N. Goodwin was reportedly in a messy editorial dispute with Jann Wenner.  Thompson paused and said that “was the most intelligent question I’ve been asked on this road trip!”  In that setting, amidst that audience, I felt like Thompson had reached out and touched me on the head! Ha!   (Hunter S Thompson you may recall ate a .45 pistol and committed suicide in 2005. Controversy over his exit “rages on” even today.)  Richard N. Goodwin would later marry distinguished Presidential historian Doris Kearns. 

Jann Wenner and his magazine chronicled the most stupefying decade of my life.

1967-1977.       “And so it goes….”