The ultimate inside account of 50 years of rock’n’roll excess from Jann Wenner, founder of Rolling Stone and one of the best connected men of the twentieth century
Shortlisted for the Penderyn Music Book Prize
Sticky Fingers is the story of how one man’s ego and ambition captured the 1960s youth culture of rock and roll and turned it into a hothouse of fame, power, politics, and riches that would last for fifty years. Drawn from dozens of hours of interviews with Jann Wenner, who granted Joe Hagan exclusive access to his vast personal archive, this biography reveals how Wenner manufactured an unforgettable cultural mythology in story and image every other week for five decades.
Hagan captures in stunning detail the extraordinary stories behind Rolling Stone, the magazine that reinvented youth culture, and marketed the libertine world of late-sixties San Francisco. He chronicles Wenner’s marksmanship as an editor, his instinctive understanding of the zeitgeist, his endless pursuit of fame and power and his capacity for betrayal that would earn him as many enemies as friends.
Featuring on-the-record interviews with Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Keith Richards, Pete Townsend, Yoko Ono, Billy Joel, Tom Wolfe, Cameron Crowe, Lorne Michaels, David Geffen, Dan Aykroyd, Bette Midler, and many others, Hagan describes Wenner with intimacy, nuance, and complexity.
Like a real life Clash of the Titans, Sticky Fingers captures the spirit of the age and paints an unforgettable portrait of one of the most significant cultural forces of our time.
“A wild blast from a vanishing past … a magnificent monument to the magazine’s life and changing times”
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“Offers a fascinating insight into the relationship between Wenner, his writers and some of the most storied musicians and celebrities of the late 20th century”
“A sprawling rollercoaster of a book – insightful, revelatory, sometimes lurid, and never less than utterly compelling”
“One of the music books of the year”
mail On Sunday
“A surprisingly honest portrait of a controversial rock publisher … The pages sizzle with the sex and drug-fuelled tales of Hunter Thompson, Annie Leibovitz and Joe Eszterhas. Yet, the through-line remains the complex relationship between Jann and Jane Wenner … a profile with real bite”
Joe Hagan has written for New York, Rolling Stone, The Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. He has published long-form profiles and investigative exposés of some of the most significant figures and subjects of our time, including Hillary Clinton (her first post-secretary of state interview), Karl Rove, the Bush family, Henry Kissinger, Dan Rather, Goldman Sachs, The New York Times, and Twitter. He lives with his family in Tivoli, New York.