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Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  1,863 ratings  ·  327 reviews
A delicious romp through the heyday of rock and roll and a revealing portrait of the man at the helm of the iconic magazine that made it all possible, with candid look backs at the era from Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Elton John, Bono, Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, and others.

The story of Jann Wenner, Rolling Stone's founder, editor, and publisher, and the pioneering
Hardcover, 560 pages
Published October 24th 2017 by Knopf Canada
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William Sedlack
Nov 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
I admire Hagan's writing and think that he did a stand-up job but I was so sick of Wenner by the end that I was thankful that the book was over. ...more
Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine is an outstanding biographical work of literary achievement. Author Joe Hagan received an invitation to Wenner’s home in 2013, originally he wanted Hagan to write for Rolling Stone, and later suggested Hagan pen his (authorized) biography. Hagan interviewed over 250 people: famous celebrities, musicians, industry insiders, including Jann’s former wife, Jane. Jann had tremendous influence and power as the editor of Rolli ...more
Dec 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Dinosaurs Like Me
Recommended to Still by: I've read Rolling Stone since I was high school
A masterpiece.
Absolutely the best book I've read all year.
If you ever had a heart and you grew up with Rolling Stone Magazine then you'll almost bleed out in the final 7-8 pages.

Joe Hagan, the author has done an awesome job chronicling the misadventures of the conflicted genius Jann Wenner and Wenner's professional and personal relationships throughout his life.
So laugh-out-loud funny, so misty eyed wistful, so searingly tragic.

I've yet to read the "Notes" section.
I'll be needing those for rese
This is an authorized biography, but it is not very flattering to its subject. While Joe Hagan takes the reader from Wenner’s childhood to his life now that he’s in his 70’s, the bulk of the book is about Wenner’s signature achievement, the creation of Rolling Stone magazine.

Wenner’s family, for me, was the most interesting part of the book. Wenner’s father was a striver, as were the generations before him. He was the first in the family to capitalize on the baby boom. Wenner’s disinterested mot
Jan 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: music-writing
No review will be endeavored given that Joe Hagan didn't bother to write a biography. Rather, it's a group of essays, poorly formed, about its subject. Wenner has become someone rich and powerful, so perhaps it was too difficult to sit on the interviews to which Wenner's power gave Hagan access. There was news in the chorus. He's interviewed Dylan, McCartney, Mick Jagger, Keith Richard, Pete Townsend -- the lot. There's a subject matter in Jann Wenner's epicurean refinement of rock tropes both i ...more
Sarah Paolantonio
Nov 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
I went to see author Joe Hagan speak at WORD bookstore in Greenpoint, Brooklyn the night I purchased this biography. Before I say anything else, I admire Hagan as a reporter and a biographer. I think that writing the biography of someone like Wenner who gave himself the post as gatekeeper to rock and roll and its history is more than an undertaking. Wenner has always controlled the narrative and this book is the first time he isn’t. What Hagan found through loads of personal documents, letters, ...more
Harry Buckle
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A five star book...about a less than one star opportunist, Rolling Stone Magazine owner Jann Wenner. Having my self spent 50 years in the music industry, fortunately with some success, I observed the birth of Rolling Stone and followed it- both the US and ill fated UK edition, until the current day. I share the view of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, John Lennon and others that Wenner was an odious hanger on, and remarkably free of charm or talent. The magazine did however fill a much needed nation ...more
Jul 09, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-bought
Somewhere in the bottom of some moldy cardboard box, I have the first issue of Rolling Stone Magazine or newspaper, with John Lennon on the cover. A remarkable publication for a 12-year-old to read who was obsessed with pop/rock music culture. At the time, there was nothing like it, and although there were other magazines like Crawdaddy (which in theory is a better rock mag than Rolling Stone), it did have that 'Random Notes' section, which was a bit of gossip, but also announcements about new a ...more
Dec 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
OMG, are there any editors left out there. If so, they missed this book. There was no reason that over 500 pages needed to be published. It was unbelievably redundant and reeked of unnecessary details. Made up dialogue belongs in fiction, not a book that supposedly presents facts.
Hank Stuever
Dec 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Exhaustive (in almost every sense), but luckily it comes with a meticulously detailed index, which enables some necessary skimming once a reader hits whatever part he or she doesn't find that interesting. Because it can't ALL be interesting, even when the subject is Rolling Stone and its impact on culture.

Jann Wenner, whose ego was already legendarily huge, says he doesn't like the book -- probably because it dwells too much on his overdue coming-out as a gay man and drug use and betrayals of f
Feb 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
More than you want to know about the founder and the inception of the publication Rolling Stone. I wish the author had done a deeper "think piece" on Rolling Stone, a book that reflected on the music and culture of the seventies, eighties, and nineties. Much research went into this book, but it fails to deliver more than a chronology of events and personalities. Did all that music and idealism bring forth anything more than a lot of bad behavior? Women are absent from the first half of the book, ...more
Leslie Basney
I guess I thought (wanted) the story to be sex, drugs and rock and roll which it definitely was along with a vast amount of misogynists, miscreants and parsimony. So much for the Age of Aquarius.
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Joni Mitchell fans
At some point, very late in the writing process (I believe the book was virtually done), Jann Wenner withdrew his support for Joe Hagan's biography. But by then the damage was done. Wenner had granted Hagan access to his meticulously kept archives (letters, pictures, clippings, etc.), as well as granting him numerous interviews, and encouraging others (Jagger, McCartney, Jane Wenner, Art Garfunkle, etc.) to speak frankly to Hagan. There were over 250 interviews over a four year period. And boy, ...more
Jason Diamond
Oct 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love a good media/publishing bio, and Joe Hagan's is one of the best I've ever read. Sure, the excess and greed on display make the subject into some coked up Machiavellian character, but it's also the people around him (some literally out of a Joan Didion novel), and the way Hagan uses his subject as a mirror to hold up to an entire generation, that makes this such a compelling book. ...more
Sep 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
Just because you’ve done something interesting in your life it doesn’t mean your entire life is interesting! Waaaay too much time spent on Wenners unremarkable childhood. Interesting about the start of Rolling Stone but then it’s just a gossipy list of people Wenner pissed off or had unrequited crushes on. Wenner himself comes across as a narcissistic bore.
Nov 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
I know why Jann Wenner apparently did not like this book. He is referred to as "plump" about 47 times. Also, he comes off as a jackass. To be fair, he really seems to be one. ...more
Carol Storm
Oct 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Fascinating book but hardly enjoyable. Jann Wenner comes across as an absolutely loathsome human being and his motives are even shabbier than I could have imagined. The author does an amazing job digging up dirt on the sick, twisted, dysfunctional Wenner family, making it clear that young Jann was rejected by both parents and learned to leech off other people sexually, financially, and emotionally, at a very early age. What's never made clear is why a scumbag high society wanna-be like Wenner wo ...more
William Kuhn
Nov 03, 2018 rated it liked it
I met Jann Wenner while I was writing READING JACKIE. He was a charming guy. Though I could see he was a larger than life figure, trying to influence me by implying he was closer to Jackie than he was, I liked him. I was grateful for the stuff he told me. He definitely had an influence on her life as an editor. Several people who worked for him at ROLLING STONE ended up being her prized authors.

The problem with this biography of Wenner is that it is so relentlessly negative. I don't really think
Scott Wilson
Nov 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Hagan gets four stars for the writing itself, which hums such that the pages vibrate under your fingers, turning even when you've decided that you've had enough of Wenner's company for one sitting.

But Hagan's tone is so contemptuous throughout that the tawdriness of his subject and those in orbit around him bleeds into the story. There are moments when the references to Wenner's closeted assignations feel homophobic. And there's a palpable glee in using Wenner's story to tear down figures such
Steve Peifer
Nov 14, 2017 rated it liked it
It’s the dreary story of a dreary person. The biggest problem is the old joke about the guy who read Playboy for the articles. Why did my generation love Rolling Stone? We loved it because originally it was all about the music, and no one was was covering it like RS did.

There is so little about music in the book that I’m afraid that the author missed the point. Lots and lots about music celebrities, but virtually nothing about the music. It made for a very flat book, and one that made you long f
Jan 10, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2018
"[The ad campaign] created a simple message: Rolling Stone readers weren't dope-smoking hippies living in teepees anymore, but rather status-seeking Yuppies like Jann Wenner who clawed for money and sports cars...On the left panel stood a fringe-wearing hippie (perception); on the right, a briefcase-toting businessman (reality). Perception: a handful of dirty pennies; reality: an American Express card. In another, onetime youth culture presidential candidate George McGovern was juxtaposed with R ...more
Brandon Forsyth
Dec 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Absolutely brilliant. Joe Hagan has crafted something truly special here that manages to be equal parts even-handed biography, sobering social critique, and gossipy tell-all. Wenner has truly been in the middle of U.S. popular culture for so long that it would be easy to make this book a look at how the counter culture of the '60s sold out and got nice private jets, but Hagan excels at always putting the emotional life of his subject at the forefront, while dishing on who slept with whom. I'll a ...more
What a loathsome individual. I've always felt that, and time has proven even more so. Why I read this is a mystery. At best, it reinforced every belief I had already heard about or formed about this individual: a man given to hedonism, lies, rampant narcissism coupled with sociopathy, betrayal of friends, confused children and an ex-wife only too happy to live off the continued fatted calf. He consistently lives beyond his means, has no checks or balances in his life and gives over to any impuls ...more
Justin HC
Jan 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
SO LONG, became such a slog. The more I read, the more I lost track of why I was supposed to care about Wenner and his go-go world. Maybe the shallow vibe of the swirl of people surrounding Wenner mirrors his own drugged out superficiality, or reflects the constantly diminishing relevance of Rolling Stone, but it didn’t make finishing the book any less of a chore. Well written (sentence for sentence), though.
John Lamb
Nov 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Summary: Jann Wenner is kind of an asshole. But gosh darn it, he sure is an entertaining asshole to read about.
Ted Daniels
Dec 23, 2017 rated it did not like it
I had to give up half way through the book, something I seldom do. I was never a Rolling Stone reader, so perhaps that explains my lack of enthusiasm. Mr. Hagan establishes in the first chapter that Jann Wenner is an obnoxious ass. We also learn that he is dishonest, lacking of good judgement, abusive, and has a serious drug problem. The book does delve into his complicated relationships with important people in the music industry, notably Mick Jagger and John Lennon. However, it is mostly a reh ...more
Feb 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
The personality parallels of Wenner and 45 are astounding. I was thinking about this as I read through this lengthy, yet well-researched book. Eventually that point is addressed in the final chapters.

Anyone with a career in media ( or seeking same ) should read this book.
Stevie Kincade
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Jann Wenner was an interesting human. If you like stories of sex, drugs and rock and roll I highly recommend this. Hagan is a hell of a writer
Apr 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An all time great read for the music lover and fan of '60s, '70s, '80s culture. I was an avid Rolling Stone reader since almost as long as I could read and remember, I recalled so many of the issues discussed. Little did I know the stories and genius(es) behind each one. An intimate look at Wenner, Liebvovitz, Hunter (!), Crowe, so many of the greats that made RS the voice of this era.

I made it to page 275 and couldn't take it anymore. ...more
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“If rock and roll was the common tongue, maybe Rolling Stone could be a translation device.” 1 likes
“Wenner began a campaign to get his parents back together. Sim told her son she wanted him to call only every other week to reduce her phone bills. “Your demand that Dad and I be something to each other that we’re not, is basically a child’s demand,” she wrote to him in 1959, when Wenner was thirteen. “One stamps one’s foot and says, ‘Change the world and I will be all right!’ and it’s a nice comforting thought to have, but the world can’t be changed, families can’t be changed, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers…There is only one thing that can be changed, or rather, only one thing that you can change, and that is yourself.” (“Maternally yours,” she signed the letter.)” 1 likes
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