Jann Wenner, who co-founded Rolling Stone magazine and was also a co-founder of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, has been removed from the hall’s board of directors after making comments that were seen as disparaging towards Black and female musicians.
- The 77-year-old was sanctioned for comments made on a publicity tour for his new book, called The Masters
- He caused offence when he tried to justify why his book featured only musicians who were white and male
- Wenner said his words were “inflammatory” and “badly chosen” and he said he accepted “the consequences”
“Jann Wenner has been removed from the Board of Directors of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation,” the hall said, a day after Wenner’s comments were published in a New York Times interview.
Wenner created a firestorm doing publicity for his new book, The Masters, which features interviews with musicians Bob Dylan, Jerry Garcia, Mick Jagger, John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, Pete Townshend and U2’s Bono — all white and male.
Asked why he didn’t interview women or black musicians, Wenner responded: “It’s not that they’re inarticulate, although, go have a deep conversation with Grace Slick or Janis Joplin. Please, be my guest,” he told the New York Times.
“You know, Joni [Mitchell] was not a philosopher of rock ‘n’ roll. She didn’t, in my mind, meet that test.
“Of black artists — you know, Stevie Wonder, genius, right? I suppose when you use a word as broad as ‘masters,’ the fault is using that word. Maybe Marvin Gaye, or Curtis Mayfield? I mean, they just didn’t articulate at that level.”
Wenner apologised through his publisher, Little, Brown and Company, saying: “I made comments that diminished the contributions, genius and impact of black and women artists and I apologise wholeheartedly for those remarks.
Wenner co-founded Rolling Stone in 1967 and served as its editor or editorial director until 2019. He also co-founded the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, which was launched in 1987.
In the interview with the New York Times, Wenner seemed to acknowledge he would face a backlash.
“Just for public relations sake, maybe I should have gone and found one black and one woman artist to include here that didn’t measure up to that same historical standard, just to avert this kind of criticism,” he said.
Last year, Rolling Stone magazine published its 500 Greatest Albums of All Time and ranked Gaye’s What’s Going On in top spot.
Blue by Mitchell is at No 3, Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life is at No. 4, “Purple Rain” by Prince and the Revolution ranks eighth and Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill rounds out the top 10.
Rolling Stone’s niche in magazines was an outgrowth of Wenner’s outsized interests, a mixture of authoritative music and cultural coverage with tough investigative reporting.
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