When I heard that Joe Hagan, a respected journalist who has contributed to New York Magazine and the Wall Street Journal, had written a biography of Rolling Stone founder and publisher Jann Wenner, I was intrigued. More than any other writer or editor, Wenner has shaped the narrative of rock history from his perch at Rolling Stone and, later, as one of the gatekeepers at the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame. In Hagan’s book, Sticky Fingers: The Life And Times Of Jann Wenner And Rolling Stone Magazine, Wenner’s life and career are contextualized in the cultural shifts in America from the ’60s through the modern era, showing how Wenner ruthlessly engineered or capitalized on these changes for immense personal gain.
However, when it was reported that Wenner, who participated in interviews with Hagan during the writing of Sticky Fingers, was displeased with the book, Sticky Fingers immediately shot to the top of my reading list. Clearly, if Wenner didn’t like the book, I thought, then Sticky Fingers must be a fascinating read.
Sure enough, I inhaled the 500-page tome like the many piles of white powder that Wenner and his compatriots consumed during the magazine’s heyday. For my podcast, I invited Hagan to talk about his rocky relationship with Wenner, as well as Wenner’s equally rancorous dealings with rock stars such as Mick Jagger, John Lennon, and Paul McCartney. Ultimately, Wenner and his political opposite, Donald Trump, have more in common than either man would care to admit, Hagan says.