It’s a good question for a U.K. reporter to ask Jann Wenner in this, the 50th anniversary year of Rolling Stone magazine. And so, The Observer’s Tim Lewis does:
You went into partnership with Mick Jagger to create a British edition of Rolling Stone in the late 1960s, but it closed after a few months. Why didn’t that work out?
Well, I was in San Francisco, so it was up to Mick to oversee it and he went to Australia to make a movie, Ned Kelly. So it was left in the hands of amateurs and hippies and they didn’t know what they were doing and it was terrible! Not a very good magazine.
Jagger invested 10,000 pounds in the project in the spring of 1969 and registered Trans-Oceanic Comic Company as business name. According to the 2012 book The Rolling Stones: Fifty Years, the venture collapsed largely because of the withdrawal of concurrent support from manager Allen Klein.
What is not mentioned in the Wenner-Guardian Q&A is that from the ashes of the Jagger Rolling Stone U.K. edition came another publication, an underground magazine initially called Friends of Rolling Stone but then changed, under threat of litigation, to Friends and then Frendz. Friends/Frendz was published from December 1969 until May of 1971. Here’s one of the editors, Alan Marcuson, recalling from his end how it all took shape:
“By late 1969, we were increasingly coming into conflict with Jann Wenner, and we were becoming increasingly independent of American Rolling Stone. Wenner didn’t like this but Jagger was basically on our side but he went off to Altamont and in the middle of Altamont Jann Wenner struck and demanded that we fall under the editorial jurisdiction of San Francisco and do only what they wanted us to do and that we were to submit our material to California and all we were to do was sell advertising.”
“We also had this appalling distributor and one day we went to his warehouse and he had thousands and thousands of ‘Rolling Stones’ just lying there undistributed.”
A new book, Rolling Stone: 50 Years: The Music, Politics and People that Changed Our Culture, with an introduction by Wenner, comes out Tuesday.