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The first time Jann Wenner put John Lennon and Yoko Ono on the cover of Rolling Stone, in 1968, he was propping up his fledgling publication. The second time, in 1981, he was sealing Lennon’s legend. With the magazine now up for sale, Joe Hagan chronicles the relationship between Wenner and Lennon in an adaptation from his new biography of the Rolling Stone founder.

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John Lennon was in a movie theater, crying.

The image of Paul, singing from the rooftop in the final 10 minutes, had set him off. Jann Wenner shifted in his seat. In the darkness of a tiny movie house in San Francisco, the Beatle, Wenner’s hero, whose iconic spectacles and nose adorned the first issue of his rock ‘n’ roll newspaper, Rolling Stone, had tears running down his cheeks as light flickered off his glasses. And next to him was Yoko Ono, the bête noire of Beatledom, raven hair shrouding her porcelain face, also weeping.

It was a Saturday afternoon in the spring of 1970, and John and Yoko and Jann and his wife, Jane Wenner, were watching the final scenes of Let It Be, the documentary about the Beatles’ acrimonious recording session for their last album. John and Yoko were deep into primal-scream therapy, their emotions raw and close to the surface, and the image of a bearded Paul McCartney singing from the rooftop of Apple Records, against a cold London wind, was too much to bear.

To read more on Vanity Fair:

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