The 40th anniversary issue of Rolling Stone magazine is shown in this undated publicity photo released to Reuters April 18, 2007.[AP]
Rolling Stone magazine is serious about celebrating its 40th anniversary.
Just a year ago, the music magazine marked its 1,000th issue with a fun-themed double issue and a big party. This time, founder and editor Jann Wenner is more pensive as he prepares to put out the first of three commemorative editions.
"I thought I'd just make the 1,000th issue more of a celebration and a party-type thing. For the 40th anniversary, I thought we'd better crack down, do some real gravitas, and spread it out," he told Reuters.
The first issue hits newsstands on Friday. It's entitled "Where We've Been" and tracks the progress of the baby-boomer generation through interviews with the likes of Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney and Steven Spielberg. It also includes musings from members of the silent generation, such as Jack Nicholson and President Carter.
The second issue, due in June, focuses on the so-called "summer of love" of 1967, the backdrop for the magazine's launch in San Francisco. The series will be rounded out in November, with a forward-looking issue where artists and pundits will attempt to predict the future.
The third special issue may coincide with some sort of event to enhance the Rolling Stone brand, but Wenner was not particularly enthusiastic.
"It wouldn't be a party. I'd like to rather do something else, and I'm not quite sure what it is yet," he said.
Wenner interviewed Dylan for the "Where We've Been" issue, flying to Amsterdam for a two-hour summit with the enigmatic subject of 14 cover stories.
"You get a sense of who he is, and what he thinks, what his life is like a little today, what kind of personality," Wenner said. "He's on the road, he loves playing, he loves doing his work."
The two go back to 1969, 18 months after Wenner had launched Rolling Stone with John Lennon on the cover. In that time, the rookie publisher constantly pestered Dylan for an interview, and was finally rewarded with an audience at a New York hotel.
These days, 61-year-old Wenner is arguably just as famous as some of the rock stars in his magazine. Beyond the usual perils of aging, he feels he still has the same spirit and energy now as he did 40 years ago. With a bit more money.
His current listening choices include such rock bands as Kings of Leon, the Strokes and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, singer/guitarist John Mayer, and old standbys like Dylan and the Rolling Stones.
There are few professional regrets. A Frank Sinatra interview was dangled in front of the magazine but probably never would have happened anyway. And Wenner could have become one of the richest men on the planet if he had accepted an offer years ago to sell the magazine to MTV in return for a 25 percent stake in the fledgling music cable channel.
"I would never have had the wisdom or foresight to hang onto it and own more of (MTV parent) Viacom than (Viacom's billionaire chairman) Sumner Redstone," he said.