Rolling Stone editor reveals life within the workplace was extra rock’n’roll than the celebs they wrote about


When imperious Rolling Stone editor Jann Wenner despatched his employees on an project, he at all times made one factor clear — the journal that noticed itself because the bible of rock music demanded the definitive story on its greatest stars.

Even so, it appeared clear to him that his favorite photographer, Annie Leibovitz, might need gone past the decision of responsibility one night as she padded up a white sand seashore in Barbados behind Mick Jagger.

They have been all on vacation collectively on the Caribbean island over Thanksgiving in 1979 and, sitting round over cigarettes and cognacs after dinner with their host, music tycoon Ahmet Ertegun, Bianca Jagger abruptly requested the place her husband had obtained to. No one knew — or certainly the place the flamboyant, 6ft tall Leibovitz had gone both, as she too had mysteriously vanished. Then the Rolling Stone abruptly appeared — with sand everywhere in the knees of his trousers — intently adopted by the photographer who Wenner had assigned to cowl the band.

Tom Leonard: ‘When imperious Rolling Stone editor Jann Wenner despatched his employees on an project, he at all times made one factor clear — the journal that noticed itself because the bible of rock music demanded the definitive story on its greatest stars’ 

It was pretty apparent what should have occurred between the free-spirited pair, stated Wenner. ‘Bianca walked out and not using a phrase and there was a basic sigh of aid,’ he recollects in his new autobiography. ‘Then she returned with a big pot of water and poured it over Mick’s head. It was hilarious. Justice!’

The wayward Leibovitz, he provides in Like A Rolling Stone, was not solely Jagger’s lover however ‘was additionally in love with [Wenner’s wife] Jane, although I did not know that on the time, nor would it not even have occurred to me’.

However then nothing was too outrageous for the dissolute Wenner and his equally drug-addled cronies — led by Leibovitz and the deranged author Hunter S. Thompson — as they charted a wild and ragged course by means of rock music’s most decadent years.

When members of the Rolling Stones weren’t seducing his employees, they’d drop off beneficiant items of cocaine — as Wenner says Keith Richards as soon as did — at {a magazine} workplace whose photographic darkroom was transformed into an in-house drug dealership and whose boss had an astronomical behavior.

When Wenner and Jagger — who some imagine have been extra than simply good mates — launched a British model of Rolling Stone, they threw a file business occasion at which the punch bowl was spiked with LSD and a number of other visitors have been hospitalised. Victims included Marc Bolan of T. Rex, who turned so paranoid that he locked himself within the toilet till he was talked out by a gynaecologist who was on the occasion.

In the meantime, employees have been so stoned they managed to print Bob ‘Dillon’ on the journal’s cowl.

So whereas Rolling Stone may make or break careers — Eric Clapton as soon as fainted in a restaurant after studying a nasty overview from the journal — it was typically one thing of a triumph that it ever got here out in any respect.

Wenner recollects a day with Jimi Hendrix throughout which they ‘smoked numerous dope, turned on the tape and took numerous footage’. He later managed to salvage not less than one thing of their doggerel to provide an article, including: ‘This occurred too continuously.’

Fashion designer Halston with Bianca and Mick Jagger for Bianca's birthday party in 1977

Dressmaker Halston with Bianca and Mick Jagger for Bianca’s birthday celebration in 1977

In enhancing the journal, Wenner turned the uber-pal of the celebs of the Nineteen Sixties and Nineteen Seventies — taking their medication, holidaying on their yachts and crashing out at their wild events.

After establishing Rolling Stone in San Francisco in 1967, he befriended all of them — not less than those that mattered — together with not solely Jagger, however John Lennon, David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Bono and Bruce Springsteen.

Critics say he was far too pleasant, and that his longing for fame turned him right into a shameless sycophant whose pandering to his well-known mates prolonged to letting them edit their very own interviews.

One other cost — equally onerous to dismiss — was that he offered out the journal’s Left-wing ‘counterculture’ stance as he turned a multi-millionaire with a string of properties and a non-public jet.

Now Wenner has revealed all — or somewhat not fairly all — in a self-congratulatory autobiography that has made waves within the U.S. as a lot for what is not in it as for what’s.

For Wenner, now 76, really determined to put in writing Like A Rolling Stone as a rejoinder to a 2017 biography which, regardless that he’d commissioned it himself, was lower than flattering. Sticky Fingers, by Vainness Honest author Joe Hagan, was impeccably researched however — a lot to Wenner’s fury — painted him as a rock ‘n’ roll tyrant who not solely kowtowed to the most important stars however destroyed the careers of much less well-known artists he wasn’t inquisitive about courting.

Wenner accused Hagan of manufacturing a ‘tawdry’ tome that overly centered on his sexual behaviour (he left his spouse and three youngsters for a person) and heavy drug abuse.

His personal e-book, nonetheless, is just not quick on juicy revelations. He reveals, for instance, {that a} photographer was solely in a position to get romantic snaps of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt collectively at an African resort — whereas Pitt was nonetheless married to Jennifer Aniston — as a result of Jolie tipped him off. Wenner’s an outrageous name-dropper, however not less than he has spectacular names to drop — amongst them Michael Douglas, Jackie Kennedy and Madonna.

Tom Leonard: 'The wayward Leibovitz (pictured), he adds in Like A Rolling Stone, was not only Jagger's lover but 'was also in love with [Wenner's wife] Jane, though I didn't know that at the time, nor would it even have occurred to me''

Tom Leonard: ‘The wayward Leibovitz (pictured), he provides in Like A Rolling Stone, was not solely Jagger’s lover however ‘was additionally in love with [Wenner’s wife] Jane, although I did not know that on the time, nor would it not even have occurred to me”

After attending an costly California boarding faculty, he dropped out of college and co-founded Rolling Stone with cash from his rich dad and mom, and people of his collaborator and future spouse Jane Schindelheim.

It proved an impressed enterprise choice. The mainstream U.S. media weren’t inquisitive about noisy, smelly rock ‘n’ roll on the time, and music acts had nowhere else to go to get observed aside from this journal and its hippy employees.

Wenner and spouse Jane threw outrageous dinner events for his or her well-known friends at their San Francisco dwelling. Leibovitz got here to at least one dressed as a nun, whereas one other visitor wheeled in a big tank of the occasion drug nitrous oxide on a trolley. Pete Townshend of The Who as soon as pitched as much as see Wenner at 2am and later accused him of spiking his orange juice with LSD.

Alternatively, the celebs may simply drop into the journal’s louche workplaces in San Francisco and take medication with the ever-obliging and — at 5ft 6in — diminutive Wenner.

He presided over fairly a circus — the frequently drugged-up Hunter S. Thompson favored to drag out a large hypodermic needle throughout editorial conferences and dramatically inject himself within the abdomen as he groaned in ecstasy.

Wenner later found the syringe had a retractable needle and the entire efficiency — like lots about Thompson — was a charade.

The bisexual Leibovitz was additionally deranged by heavy drug use, in addition to being a hopeless spendthrift, he claims. Wenner says he was as soon as referred to as to a hospital in New York the place he discovered her mendacity unattended on a stretcher and quick going white. He believes she ‘nearly died’. She left Rolling Stone in 1983, says Wenner, cleaned herself up and located fame taking portraits for Vogue and Vainness Honest.

Mick Jagger and photographer Annie Leibovitz pose at Niagara Falls during the Rolling Stones Tour of the Americas in 1975

Mick Jagger and photographer Annie Leibovitz pose at Niagara Falls through the Rolling Stones Tour of the Americas in 1975

Leibovitz definitely reduce her photographic enamel at Rolling Stone and have become well-known for bending reluctant topics to her will. She persuaded teen dream star David Cassidy to strip bare, as an illustration, telling him it will assist him shake off his healthful picture.

Intercourse was a preferred Rolling Stone vice. ‘Everyone slept on their desks and had intercourse on their desks,’ recalled a former Wenner publicist.

The partitions of the women’ have been coated in graffiti discussing how male colleagues carried out in mattress. Wenner boasted to biographer Hagan that he slept with everybody who labored for him, male or feminine — though this revelation is not in his memoir. Wenner does, nonetheless, admit to growing a severe cocaine behavior. He gave the drug to favoured employees as a bonus.

The drug had a ‘stranglehold on the music enterprise’, he says. It was in every single place — he recollects a cocktail party in Aspen, Colorado, with veterans reminiscent of Jimmy Buffett and the Eagles’ Glenn Frey and Don Henley, at which a silver tray of neat traces of cocaine was handed round each half hour.

Jann Wenner said: Leibovitz left Rolling Stone in 1983, says Wenner, cleaned herself up and found fame taking portraits for Vogue and Vanity Fair

Jann Wenner stated: Leibovitz left Rolling Stone in 1983, says Wenner, cleaned herself up and located fame taking portraits for Vogue and Vainness Honest

In early 1970, the chaotic Rolling Stone workplace was graced with a go to from John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Wenner having two years earlier earned their gratitude with a entrance cowl image of them bare and holding arms.

Banned from sale in Boston, the duvet brought about an enormous stink however actually put Rolling Stone on the map. In return, Wenner readily tolerated John and Yoko’s eccentric behaviour, reminiscent of their insistence on referring to themselves within the third particular person as Liz and Dick — as in Liz Taylor and Richard Burton — each time he was with them. Ono was ‘petite, no small discuss, all enterprise’, Lennon could possibly be disconcertingly aggressive — which Wenner put right down to his Liverpudlian upbringing. And aggressive even with followers.

Wenner was shocked when he took the couple for lunch throughout their San Francisco go to and a fan requested the ex-Beatle for his autograph. ‘Cannot you f***ing see that I am consuming?’ Lennon yelled.

Afterwards the trio went with Wenner’s spouse Jane to a cinema to look at Let It Be, the movie in regards to the making of The Beatles’ final album earlier than they broke up, which astonishingly Lennon hadn’t seen. ‘John stated nothing,’ says Wenner. ‘Once we walked out, the 4 of us stood on the sidewalk, arms round one another in a huddle. John cried, after which all of us joined in.’

He lastly obtained a correct interview with Lennon a couple of months later by which he let rip on the ‘darkish facet’ of The Beatles. He dismissed The Beatles’ popularity as comparatively nicely behaved, telling Wenner: ‘We had that picture, however the excursions have been one thing else, whores, junk [drugs], orgies.’

He turned on fellow band members, who he accused of mistreating Yoko. He stated he would not hassle enjoying George Harrison’s solo album at dwelling, referred to as Paul McCartney’s solo album ‘garbage’, described Bob Dylan as ‘bulls***’, and dismissed the Stones’ seminal album Their Satanic Majesties Request as a blatant rip-off of The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Membership Band.

Lennon was livid when Wenner republished the interview as a e-book referred to as Lennon Remembers with out his permission. Wenner says he felt sick at ‘betraying’ a star who’d executed a lot for the journal — however he nonetheless went forward. They by no means noticed one another once more and ten years later Lennon was shot useless in New York.

Wenner additionally had a tempestuous relationship with Jagger. The journalist admits he was sexually drawn to the Stone, though he stresses nothing ever got here of it.

When imperious Rolling Stone editor Jann Wenner (pictured) sent his staff on an assignment, he always made one thing clear — the magazine that saw itself as the bible of rock music demanded the definitive story on its biggest stars

When imperious Rolling Stone editor Jann Wenner (pictured) despatched his employees on an project, he at all times made one factor clear — the journal that noticed itself because the bible of rock music demanded the definitive story on its greatest stars

Jagger, he provides, ‘could possibly be unfriendly and chilly, and do it with ease. It was gratuitous, presumably a take a look at or maybe a method of creating one other particular person’s standing as a supplicant.’

Within the macho world of rock within the Nineteen Sixties and Nineteen Seventies, Wenner did not dare come out of the closet, though he could not have been profitable at hiding his sexuality.

Actor Richard Gere and his girlfriend have been visitors one summer time on the Wenners’ property within the Hamptons on Lengthy Island.

‘On weekends, Richard favored to mosey round in his underwear and would sit within the pool, the place they might develop into almost clear,’ recollects Wenner.

‘He requested me in the future if I used to be gay, as a result of it was completely OK with him. His brother was. I stated no, as casually as potential.’

Wenner insists he often chased ladies and had ‘a crush’ on Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher, whom he’d meet for lunch. Then his spouse intervened and, he says, ‘one night time I got here dwelling to discover a Princess Leia doll with pins in it on my pillow’.

Some rock acts, nonetheless, loathed Rolling Stone, and Wenner particularly. They included Led Zeppelin, whose guitarist, Jimmy Web page, blamed him for monstering their first album and stealing his girlfriend.

Roger Taylor, drummer of Queen, as soon as despatched a letter — written on an airline sick bag — by which he blasted the journal as pretentious and dishonest.

The memoir skates over superstar feuds that Wenner’s authorised biographer coated. They embody one with Elton John, who did not seem on Rolling Stone’s cowl for 35 years after admitting within the journal for the primary time that he was homosexual. John Reid, Elton’s supervisor and ex-lover, blamed the ban on Wenner’s ‘ambivalence’ about his personal homosexuality.

McCartney was not a lot of a pal both, reportedly relating to Wenner as Lennon’s spy, though the ex-Beatle most likely owes his first marriage to Wenner.

The longer term Linda McCartney was one in every of Rolling Stone’s first photographers and was eager to satisfy Paul. After Wenner despatched her to London to {photograph} The Beatles, Linda despatched him a postcard saying she’d had a date with him and ‘all is nicely’.

However Wenner’s high-handed behaviour may additionally antagonise even his mates within the rock world. When he despatched effete author Truman Capote to cowl a Rolling Stones tour and he introduced alongside his equally snooty pal Lee Radziwill (socialite sister of Jackie Kennedy), Keith Richards smeared Capote’s lodge room door with tomato ketchup. Capote obtained the message and bailed out.

In 1995, Wenner shocked the showbiz world when he left his spouse and youngsters for his homosexual lover, dressmaker Matt Nye. They later had three youngsters through surrogate moms. The Buddhist-themed blessing ceremony for the primary baby was traditional Wenner: filled with celebrities. Bette Midler hosted the choose gathering, John’s son Sean Lennon was a godfather, Springsteen was a visitor and Bowie held the infant for the blessing.

Wenner lists all of them in his e-book with relish. The person who typically appeared like a glorified groupie should have been in seventh heaven.



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