Liked the backstage stories in Joe Hagan's Sticky Fingers? Then you'll love this book about MuchMusic

Music journalist Vish Khanna recommends you read Christopher Ward's Is This Live? Inside the Wild Early Years of MuchMusic: the Nation's Music Station.
Vish Khanna is a Canadian music journalist and the host of Kreative Kontrol. (vishkhanna.com)
Listen12:56

Joe Hagan's biography of Jann Wenner, the co-founder of Rolling Stone magazine, Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine dishes on the sex, drugs and music that fuelled the magazine's rise. It captures a golden era of magazine journalism and the creative whirlwind of its co-founder's life.

The Next Chapter columnist Vish Khanna is a musician and music journalist that has read Sticky Fingers and has found a Canadian counterpart in Is This Live? Inside the Wild Early Years of MuchMusic: the Nation's Music Station by Christopher Ward.  

Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine by Joe Hagan

"Jann Wenner grew up loving music and culture, but also wanted to establish himself as someone who was significant. He entered the realm of media to get closer to the action and the people who were making history. Wenner was influenced by what was going on in the counterculture and didn't see it reflected in the mainstream — so he decided to start Rolling Stone. There was a sense that the establishment didn't know what it was doing and youth culture could lead the way. Wenner tapped into all of that. Despite all the good he has done in this book, he's not portrayed as a particularly good person in Sticky Fingers. The more Hagan met with Wenner and the more stories he heard, I think it became clear to him that this is a polarizing figure."

Is This Live? Inside the Wild Early Years of MuchMusic: The Nation's Music Station by Christopher Ward

"Rolling Stone magazine and MuchMusic made rock stardom and musicians seem accessible to me. They were both scrappy enterprises. MuchMusic began with John Martin and Moses Znaimer seeing a place for a 24-hour music station. Martin was a music fan and a great producer that loved and embraced chaos. He encouraged on-air personalities to experiment. That's exactly what Rolling Stone did: 'Let's reflect youth culture and let's talk about politics from a point of view youth can relate to.' The quote for the title Is This Live? comes from an interview with La Toya Jackson who couldn't comprehend what was going on because it was so chaotic. It's this sense that you're getting something direct and unmediated."

A mindset

"Growing up outside of Toronto and not really feeling like I had access to its culture, seeing an East Indian person like Monika Deol on TV was huge for me. It made that seem accessible; that was a career path that was open to me. That was Znaimer saying, 'This needs to reflect the community it's in on multiple levels — not just young people or those in the upper or middle class.' That's where Much really changed things. You could be answering the phones one day, someone wouldn't show up and they'd say, 'Just put Erika on the air' — that's how chaotic it was at MuchMusic. On some level, that mentality has carried forward to this day."

Vish Khanna's comments have been edited and condensed.