Ben Fong-Torres was born in Alameda, California, in 1945, and raised in Oakland's Chinatown, where his parents owned a restaurant. He attended San Francisco State College from 1962 through 1966, majored in Radio-TV-Film and served as a reporter and editor of the campus daily.

He began writing for Rolling Stone magazine in 1968, in its eighth issue. He had a full-time job at another publication: Pacific Telephone’s employee magazine. By night, he was a volunteer editor at East West, a bilingual Chinatown newspaper. In May, 1969, Ben joined Rolling Stone as news editor. His interview subjects included Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Ray Charles, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Bonnie Raitt, the Jackson 5, Linda Ronstadt, Neil Diamond, Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, the Grateful Dead, Ike & Tina Turner, Diane Keaton, and Steve Martin. The Ray Charles interview won the Deems Taylor Award for Magazine Writing in 1974.

Ben was also a weekend DJ on KSAN from 1970 to 1979. He wrote and narrated a syndicated radio special, San Francisco: What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been, which won a Billboard Award for Broadcast Excellence. He was the host of KQED-FM's live, weekly arts show, Fog City Radio, and has co-anchored KTVU-TV’s coverage of the Chinese New Year Parades since the Year of the Ox–or 1997.

Also on television, Ben did profiles on Evening Magazine in 1977; an interview with Steve Martin helped the program win a Northern California Emmy. In 1982, he went to China as scriptwriter for a special, Cycling Through China, which was broadcast in Asia, Europe, and the United States. His most unique TV credit was his 1993 appearance on Wheel of Fortune. Over three nights, he won some $99,000 in cash and fabulous prizes. He also appeared on the nationally syndicated Your Big Break in spring of 2000, doing an impersonation of Bob Dylan.

Ben left Rolling Stone in 1981 and has since written for dozens of magazines, including Esquire, GQ (where he was pop music columnist for three years), Parade, Playboy, Sports Illustrated, Travel & Leisure, American Film, TV Guide, Harper’s Bazaar and California Business. He wrote the main biographies for People magazine’s tributes to Jerry Garcia and Frank Sinatra, and he is a contributor to two books published in 1998: Rolling Stone: The Seventies and The Encyclopedia of Country Music.

In 1983, Fong-Torres joined the San Francisco Chronicle, where he was a feature writer and radio columnist until 1992, when he left to write his memoirs, The Rice Room: From Number Two Son to Rock and Roll, published in 1994 by Hyperion (and in softcover by Plume/Dutton), which reached the San Francisco Chronicle’s best-sellers list.

Ben also edited several anthologies while at Rolling Stone, wrote the main text for The Motown Album: The Sound of Young America (St. Martin’s Press). In 1991, he published Hickory Wind: The Life and Times of Gram Parsons (Pocket/Simon & Schuster). The book was nominated for the Ralph J. Gleason Book Award, and St. Martin’s Press published an updated version of it in fall of 1998.

Fong-Torres has been anthologized in numerous books, including Garcia; The Rolling Stone Film Reader; The American’s Search for Identity; Chink!: Studies in Ethnic Prejudice, and two college textbooks. He has contributed pieces to The Encyclopedia of Country Music, to Country on Compact Disc, and to the CD-ROM version of the Encyclopaedia Brittanica.

In 1993, on completion of The Rice Room, Ben joined Gavin, the San Francisco-based trade weekly for the radio and recording industries, as managing editor. He vacated that post in late 1997 to work on The Hits Just Keep On Coming: The History of Top 40 Radio, which was published by Miller Freeman Books in fall of 1998. [A long-time lover of radio, Ben has also written the script for the Radio Hall of Fame’s induction ceremonies since 1998. The inductions, hosted by Casey Kasem, take place in Chicago and are nationally broadcast.]

Ben’s most recent book is Not Fade Away: A Backstage Pass to 20 Years of Rock & Roll, a compilation of past articles published by Miller Freeman in 1999. That year, Ben joined, a music site on the Internet, as Editorial Director. He also began contributing articles to Ben is now VP of Content at Collabrys, Inc.

Fong-Torres is frequently called on to emcee community events, and to conduct on-stage interviews, most recently at the Mill Valley Film Festival, with Robin Williams, William H. Macy, and Dianne Wiest. He is also known for his impressions of, among others, Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan. Both are featured in one song, “Rainy Day Bookstores,” on a CD entitled Stranger Than Fiction, featuring writers performing music. He is a real-life character in Almost Famous, the film by director-writer Cameron (Jerry Maguire) Crowe.