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Rolling Stone editor reveals life in the office was more rock'n'roll than the stars they wrote about


When imperious Rolling Stone editor Jann Wenner despatched his employees on an project, he all the time 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, may need gone past the decision of responsibility one night as she padded up a white sand seaside 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 bought 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 all the time 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 with no phrase and there was a normal 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 via 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 consider have been extra than simply good buddies — launched a British model of Rolling Stone, they threw a file business celebration at which the punch bowl was spiked with LSD and several other friends 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 celebration.

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

So whereas Rolling Stone might make or break careers — Eric Clapton as soon as fainted in a restaurant after studying a foul assessment from the journal — it was usually 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 a whole lot of dope, turned on the tape and took a whole lot of footage’. He later managed to salvage at the very least one thing of their doggerel to provide an article, including: ‘This occurred too ceaselessly.’

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 celebration in 1977

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

After organising Rolling Stone in San Francisco in 1967, he befriended all of them — at the very least 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 buddies prolonged to letting them edit their very own interviews.

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

Now Wenner has revealed all — or quite 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, truly determined to jot down 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 excited by courting.

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

His personal guide, nevertheless, just isn’t 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 at the very least 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 college, he dropped out of college and co-founded Rolling Stone with cash from his rich mother and father, and people of his collaborator and future spouse Jane Schindelheim.

It proved an impressed enterprise resolution. The mainstream U.S. media weren’t excited by 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 house. Leibovitz got here to 1 dressed as a nun, whereas one other visitor wheeled in a big tank of the celebration 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 might 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 preferred to drag out an enormous 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 so much 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 ‘virtually 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 in the course of the Rolling Stones Tour of the Americas in 1975

Leibovitz definitely lower 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, for example, telling him it could assist him shake off his healthful picture.

Intercourse was a well-liked 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 lined 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, nevertheless, admit to creating a critical 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 comparable to Jimmy Buffett and the Eagles’ Glenn Frey and Don Henley, at which a silver tray of neat strains 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 fingers.

Banned from sale in Boston, the duvet induced an enormous stink however actually put Rolling Stone on the map. In return, Wenner readily tolerated John and Yoko’s eccentric behaviour, comparable to their insistence on referring to themselves within the third particular person as Liz and Dick — as in Liz Taylor and Richard Burton — every time he was with them. Ono was ‘petite, no small speak, all enterprise’, Lennon could possibly be disconcertingly aggressive — which Wenner put all the way 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 observe Let It Be, the movie concerning the making of The Beatles’ final album earlier than they broke up, which astonishingly Lennon hadn’t seen. ‘John stated nothing,’ says Wenner. ‘After 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 bought a correct interview with Lennon just a few months later wherein he let rip on the ‘darkish facet’ of The Beatles. He dismissed The Beatles’ fame as comparatively effectively 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 trouble enjoying George Harrison’s solo album at house, 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 guide referred to as Lennon Remembers with out his permission. Wenner says he felt sick at ‘betraying’ a star who’d completed 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 lifeless in New York.

Wenner additionally had a tempestuous relationship with Jagger. The journalist admits he was sexually interested in 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 all the time 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 approach of building one other particular person’s standing as a supplicant.’

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

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

‘On weekends, Richard preferred to mosey round in his underwear and would sit within the pool, the place they’d grow to be almost clear,’ recollects Wenner.

‘He requested me at some point 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 attainable.’

Wenner insists he often chased girls 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 house to discover a Princess Leia doll with pins in it on my pillow’.

Some rock acts, nevertheless, 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 — wherein he blasted the journal as pretentious and dishonest.

The memoir skates over movie star feuds that Wenner’s authorised biographer lined. They embrace 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 in all probability owes his first marriage to Wenner.

The longer term Linda McCartney was one in all 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 effectively’.

However Wenner’s high-handed behaviour might additionally antagonise even his buddies 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 resort room door with tomato ketchup. Capote bought 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 little one was basic Wenner: full of celebrities. Bette Midler hosted the choose gathering, John’s son Sean Lennon was a godfather, Springsteen was a visitor and Bowie held the newborn for the blessing.

Wenner lists all of them in his guide with relish. The person who usually appeared like a glorified groupie should have been in seventh heaven.

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