‘Rolling Stone’ Founder Jann Wenner On 50 Years Of Rock And Roll History


Rolling Stone magazine turns 50 this year, and co-founder Jann Wenner has written the foreword to a new book celebrating the anniversary. Wenner started Rolling Stonein San Francisco in 1967 with $7,500 of borrowed money, donated office space and some used typewriters. He was a 21-year-old Berkeley dropout who was into all the great music coming out in the year of the “Summer of Love” — and he wanted to create a magazine that took rock and roll seriously.

“You couldn’t read about it in Time magazine, you don’t read about it in newspapers, it wasn’t on TV, there were no movies — it just was considered somewhat rude and very much a teenage-girl phenomenon,” Wenner tells NPR’s Kelly McEvers.

In other words, rock and roll wasn’t getting the respect Wenner felt it deserved, given the place it occupied in the nation’s culture. Baby boomers were just starting to enter college, to become the best educated and most affluent generation the U.S. had ever seen — and music was an inextricable part of the lives of that generation.

“As it came of age, it had rock and roll as the glue that held that all together,” Wenner says. “[Rock and roll] was kind of the tribal telegraph, [through] which ideas about the world were being shared, and ideas about the American experience were being informally passed around. Dylan and The Beatles and the Stones were shaping a worldview that we were part of.”

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