Wenner grew up in a secular Jewish family. His parents divorced in 1958, and he and his sisters, Kate and Merlyn, were sent to boarding schools to live. He graduated from high school at Chadwick School in 1963 and went on to attend the University of California at Berkeley. Before dropping out of Berkeley in 1966, Wenner was active in the Free Speech Movement and produced the column "Something's Happening" in the student-run newspaper, The Daily Californian. With the help of his mentor, San Francisco Chronicle jazz critic Ralph J. Gleason, Wenner landed a job at Ramparts, a high-circulation muckraker, where Gleason was a contributing editor and Wenner worked on the magazine's spinoff newspaper. In 1967, Wenner and Gleason founded Rolling Stone in San Francisco.
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