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Rolling Stone ready to celebrate 40th

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.
/ Source: Reuters

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.

Entire magazine on DVD this fall
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.

The magazine also will release its entire printed history on DVD in the fall. Archive software firm Bondi Digital Publishing is scanning over 115,000 pages from more than 1,000 issues, using a proprietary platform previously used for the New Yorker and currently being deployed for Playboy.

The DVD, “Rolling Stone Cover-to-Cover: The First 40 Years,” will cost $119.99. It will allow users to search for every article, photograph and review that appeared in print, even the infamous five-star love letter that Wenner gave his friend Jagger’s last solo record in 2001.

“It may have been a little over the top,” Wenner said of his contrarian review.

Dylan interviewWenner 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.”

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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.