January 7, 1946
New York, New York, United States
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As the man behind Rolling Stone magazine, Jann Wenner drastically altered rock journalism, the music business, and American pop culture. Born in New York City, New York on January 7, 1946, he attended college at the University of California, Berkeley, but he left in 1966 before completing his degree and began working for the newspaper version of Ramparts magazine. The following year, operating out of the booming countercultural hub of San Francisco, Wenner raised the relatively small amount of money needed to start his own magazine, Rolling Stone. The first issue was published on November 9, 1967. By taking a serious, journalistic approach to rock while maintaining an accessible approach and courting a mass audience, Rolling Stone became regarded as the foremost arbiter of musical tastes in the '60s and '70s, as it grew from an underground endeavor to a ubiquitous mainstream cultural presence. Soon it came to encompass not only music but sociopolitical concerns as well, featuring the work of renowned writers like Hunter S. Thompson and P.J. O'Rourke. With Wenner still at the helm, Rolling Stone relocated to New York in 1977. Besides overseeing the magazine's direction, Wenner conducted many key interviews himself over the years, with rock stars and political leaders alike. At various points, he was involved with other publications as well, starting Outside magazine in 1977 and Family Life in 1985, and working with Look and Us Weekly, but he never abandoned his position at Rolling Stone. In 1983 Wenner became a part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame foundation, extending his sphere of influence even further. He would, however, take a lot of heat for that role, and was often accused of playing politics and keeping important artists from being inducted. In 2017, Wenner sold controlling interest in Rolling Stone to Penske Media while maintaining his role at the magazine.