Ben Fong-Torres Netflix Documentary: Rolling Stone Writer Looks Back

When rolling stone was a rickety operation run out of a free San Francisco loft, and the music business was still so low-key you could get an interview with Jim Morrison of the Doors by meeting him at the apartment of a friend, Ben Fong-Torres was here. Fong-Torres, one of rolling stonethe first star screenwriters, finally gets his own spotlight in the excellent new documentary Like a Rolling Stone: The Life and Times of Ben Fong-Torres, now on Netflix.



And in the new episode of Rolling Stone Music Now, he looks back on some of his most groundbreaking articles, from a deeply reported profile of Ike and Tina Turner to the time he ruthlessly took George Harrison to task for a gruesome solo tour. Oh, and by the way, what did Jim Morrison smell like? “He smelled of the teenage spirit,” Fong-Torres says.

JTo listen to the full episode, hit play above or listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Fong-Torres’ own story proves as fascinating as his subjects; The son of Chinese immigrants, he once found himself the only Asian child in an otherwise all-white school in 1950s Texas after his father moved there to help start a new restaurant. “It probably strikes me more than a few times, musicians, especially those of color, somehow relating to me as some sort of outsider,” Fong-Torres says in our new episode. “I think they saw me as some kind of marginalized person, doing something amazing, just like them.”

As chronicled in the film, directed by Suzanne Joe Kai, Fong-Torres’ standout plays – and rolling stoneThe ever-growing profile of – helped him become a more than nearly famous figure in his own right in the 70s. In the film, former subjects (Quincy Jones, Elton John, Carlos Santana, Ray Manzarek, Bob Weir, Steve Martin) and colleagues (rolling stone founder Jann Wenner, Cameron Crowe) share stories of Fong-Torres as a stubborn journalist, sharp editor and generally mensch-y dude. (Crowe, of course, immortalized Fong-Torres in his film almost known.)

In the episode, Fong-Torres also talks about getting Ray Charles to talk about his heroin addiction (a topic he always avoided in interviews), after Bob Dylan toured in 1974 until he agrees to talk about, how question-and-answer assembly in the 70s involved real, physical cut and paste, why he was slow to appreciate punk rock and Bruce Springsteen, and much more. He also explains why the tragic murder of his older brother, Barry Fong-Torres, was a major factor in his decision not to move from San Francisco to New York with the rest of the family. rolling stone staff in 1977.

Download and subscribe to our weekly podcast, Rolling Stone Music Now, hosted by Brian Hiatt, on Apple Podcasts or Spotify (or wherever you get your podcasts), and check out three years of episodes in the archive, including career-spanning in-depth interviews from Bruce Springsteen, Halsey, Neil Young, Snoop Dogg, Brandi Carlile, Phoebe Bridgers, Rick Ross , Alicia Keys, The National, Ice Cube, Robert Plant, Dua Lipa, Questlove, Killer Mike, Julian Casablancas, Sheryl Crow, Johnny Marr, Scott Weiland, Liam Gallagher, Alice Cooper, Fleetwood Mac, Elvis Costello, John Legend, Donald Fagen , Phil Collins, Justin Townes Earle, Stephen Malkmus, Sebastian Bach, Tom Petty, Eddie Van Halen, Kelly Clarkson, Pete Townshend, Bob Seger, the Zombies, Gary Clark Jr. and many more – plus dozens of episodes featuring the genre- covering discussions, debates and explanations with rolling stonecritics and journalists. Tune in every Friday at 1 p.m. ET to hear Rolling Stone Music Now airing on SiriusXM Volume Channel 106.

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