In 1967, Wenner and Gleason founded Rolling Stone in San Francisco. To get the magazine off the ground, Wenner borrowed $7,500 from family members and from the family of his soon-to-be wife, Jane Schindelheim. In the summer following the start of the magazine, Wenner and Schindelheim were married in a small Jewish ceremony.
Wenner backed the careers of writers such as Hunter S. Thompson, Joe Klein, Cameron Crowe, and Joe Eszterhas. Wenner also discovered photographer Annie Leibovitz when she was a 21-year-old San Francisco Art Institute student. Many of Wenner's proteges, such as writer/director Cameron Crowe, credit him with giving them their biggest break. Tom Wolfe recognized Wenner's influence in ensuring that his first novel, The Bonfire of the Vanities, was completed, stating "I was absolutely frozen with fright about getting it done and I decided to serialize it and the only editor crazy enough to do that was Jann."
In 1977, Rolling Stone shifted its base of operations from San Francisco to New York City. The magazine's circulation dipped briefly in the late 1970s/early 1980s as Rolling Stone responded slowly in covering the emergence of punk rock and again in the 1990s, when it lost ground to Spin and Blender in coverage of hip hop. Wenner hired former FHM editor Ed Needham, who was then replaced by Will Dana, to turn his flagship magazine around, and by 2006, Rolling Stone's circulation was at an all-time high of 1.5 million copies sold every fortnight. In May 2006, Rolling Stone published its 1000th edition with a holographic, 3-D cover modeled on The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover.
Wenner has been involved in the conducting and writing of many of the magazine's famous Rolling Stone Interviews. Some of his more recent interview subjects have included: Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, and Barack Obama for the magazine during their election campaigns and in November 2005 had a major interview with U2 rockstar Bono, which focused on music and politics. Wenner's interview with Bono received a National Magazine Award nomination.
Rolling Stone and Jann Wenner are chronicled in two books, Gone Crazy and Back Again as well as Rolling Stone: The Uncensored History. Former Rolling Stone journalist David Weir is working on a biography, as is poet and Beat historian Lewis MacAdams.
Wenner founded the magazine Outside in 1977; William Randolph Hearst III and Jack Ford both worked for the magazine before Wenner sold it a year later. He also briefly managed the magazine Look and in 1993, started the magazine Family Life. In 1985, he bought a share in Us Weekly, followed by a joint purchase of the magazine with The Walt Disney Company the following year. The magazine went weekly in 2000; after a rocky start, it now reaches over 11 million readers a week. In August 2006, Wenner bought out Disney's share and now owns 100% of the magazine.
From 2004 to 2006, Wenner contributed approximately $63,000 to Democratic candidates and liberal organizations.
Wenner was credited with spawning the music sensitized generation that served as the launchpad for the visions of Apple Computer co-founder Steve Jobs in an October 2010 Huffington Post column by Eric Ehrmann, one of his early Rolling Stone writers.
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