A few days ago I was phoned by a writer in New York who is doing a book on Jann Wenner and the Rolling Stone. He had found a quote from me projecting the rapid growth of the music industry in the early 1970’s in San Francisco. His editor wanted to know more about me.
I was well known in San Francisco for many things including being a hippie banker. Jann Wenner had just started the successful Rolling Stone bi-weekly magazine and wanted to have lunch with me.
We had a nice lunch near the bank on Washington Street, on the bank’s expense account. Jann was not a hippie, and had no hippie values, he was a ski bum.
Jann wanted to borrow money from my bank to buy out his Rolling Stone co-founder Ralph Gleason. Ralph was very important and the leader of the local music scene, vital for the magazine. The loan was for a small amount, which is what Wenner proposed to use to buy out Gleason. I knew the magazine was worth four times what Wenner was offering, or double what Gleason’s share should be. I told Wenner the amount was an ethical problem and the bank wasn’t interested.
The lunch was in the Fall of 1968. I learned from the New York writer that Gleason turned the offer down and made changes in the magazine editing staff. However, when he was dying a few years later he sold out to Wenner for a small amount.
In 1974 Random House published my book, The Seven Laws of Money (co-author Salli Rasberry) which received hundreds of rave reviews and sold tens of thousands of copies. But there was one negative review from the Rolling Stone, a nasty one at that. Jann Wenner had not forgotten my refusal to loan him money to cheat his partner.
Telling that story is my belated contribution to the world’s knowledge of Jann Wenner. Wenner is already the poster boy for terrible journalism. He published a phony rape story about the University of Virginia and lost a subsequent lawsuit.