The literary equivalent of a diss track: a retort to Joe Hagan’s biography, Sticky Fingers, which was published five years ago, after Wenner’s initial cooperation curdled into public repudiation ... [An] overwhelmingly male tale ... He continues to bathe the Beatles in white light here, glossing over the harm to their friendship caused by his publishing the acidic interview 'Lennon Remembers' in book form, and the magazine’s partisan mistreatment of Paul McCartney’s brilliant early solo efforts ... Like a Rolling Stone does gather moss, it turns out: celebrities in damp clumps ... He writes here in crisp sentences more descriptive than introspective, giving résumés for even minor characters ... Though his journalists regularly championed the downtrodden, Wenner proudly recounts a life of unbridled hedonism, and seems disinclined to reconcile any contradiction ... Like a Rolling Stone is entertaining in spades but only sporadically revealing of the uneven ground beneath Wenner’s feet. Long sections of the book read like a private-flight manifest or gala concert set list. You, the common reader, are getting only a partial-access pass.
Wenner might just as accurately have called his doorstop of a book 'I Am Very Rich, and All My Friends Are Extremely Famous' ... That Wenner demonstrated great vision when he created, at age 21, a publication that treated rock and politics as subjects equally deserving of serious examination is undeniable. So is his eye for talent. His book is at its most thrilling when Wenner recalls discovering and/or significantly boosting Hunter S. Thompson, Tom Wolfe, Annie Leibovitz, Mark Seliger, William Greider, Greil Marcus and other writers and photographers whose work in Rolling Stone made their careers ... Wenner’s prose is...impatient, alighting in spurts of two or three hundred words before leaping ahead to some unrelated subject ... Wenner may have meant to write an ink-stained history of a hugely important publication, but what he’s ended up with is an account of the largely frictionless life that extravagant wealth enables, and the obliviousness it breeds ... So many of Wenner’s subjects cry out for more reflection than he is inclined to grant them ... For all the things Wenner saw, it seems he didn’t witness much.
Some memoirs are deeply introspective; others amount to victory laps sandwiched between covers. Jann Wenner’s Like a Rolling Stone falls firmly in the second category ... The book is also a font of gossip, befitting a man who also owned Us Weekly for three decades ... sometimes reads like a boomer greatest hits compilation.