Interning at Rolling Stone is an incredibly transformative experience. It’s one you never forget, even after you’ve written “Uptown Funk” and “Shallow.” Last night on The Late Show, the Grammy and Oscar-winning songwriter-producer Mark Ronson reminisced about his first job in the “business”: researching the music charts page for Rolling Stone. The kicker? He was 12.
“I was such a big music nerd growing up,” Ronson told Colbert. “I would read Billboard and liner notes from the age of eight.” In 1989, after incessantly begging family friend and Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner for a job, Ronson was granted an internship. “I was a 12-year-old whose voice hadn’t broke, manning the phones,” Ronson said with a laugh. He balanced work with prepping for his bar mitzvah. “I would take a break and go study my haftarah portion.”
One of Ronson’s tasks was configuring the charts page. Because this was the pre-Internet age, the data was manually collected by calling individual record stores and finding out what albums sold the most copies. “Wait,” interrupted Colbert. “You were determining what the Number One album in America was … at age 12?!”
Ronson said the art department thought he was pranking them when he reported that the Batman soundtrack was the best-selling album in America. Indeed, it was. For six consecutive weeks, the duration of a summer internship, we were one nation under Batman. Even then, Ronson was hustling behind-the-scenes of the biggest songs of our time. Mazel tov.