Sep 18, 2023 3 min read

Rolling Stone founder removed from Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame board following New York Times interview

Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner has been removed from the board of the US Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame after telling the New York Times that female and black artists were not articulate enough to feature in a new book of interviews he is publishing

Rolling Stone founder removed from Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame board following New York Times interview

Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner has been voted off the board of directors at the US Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Foundation following comments he made in a New York Times interview.

Wenner is busy promoting his new book 'The Masters', a collection of interviews with music greats like Bob Dylan, Jerry Garcia, Mick Jagger, Bono, John Lennon and Pete Townshend undertaken by the publisher over the years. The 'masters' featured in the book are all white men, something noted by the New York Times interviewer.

In defending the line-up of artists featured in his book, he argued that the greatest female and black artists of music history were simply not as articulate as the white men who are included.

“It’s not that they’re inarticulate", he added of female music-makers. "Although, go have a deep conversation with Grace Slick or Janis Joplin. Please, be my guest. 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?" he went on. "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".

"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", he then mused, "just to avert this kind of criticism".

With that interview resulting in an unsurprising backlash, the committee that oversees the US Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame - of which Wenner was a co-founder - met on Saturday to discuss whether the remarks made his position on the board untenable.

They concluded that they did. “Jann Wenner has been removed from the board of directors of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Foundation", a resulting statement declared.

Wenner has subsequently apologised for his comments in the NYT piece which, he admitted, "diminished the contributions, genius and impact of black and women artists and I apologise wholeheartedly for those remarks".

“'The Masters' is a collection of interviews I’ve done over the years that seemed to me to best represent an idea of rock n roll’s impact on my world", he went on. "They were not meant to represent the whole of music and its diverse and important originators, but to reflect the high points of my career and interviews I felt illustrated the breadth and experience in that career".

"They don’t reflect my appreciation and admiration for myriad totemic, world-changing artists whose music and ideas I revere and will celebrate and promote as long as I live", he concluded. "I totally understand the inflammatory nature of badly chosen words and deeply apologise and accept the consequences".

Wenner's media company sold Rolling Stone in the late 2010s. It initially sold 49% to Bandlab Technologies in 2016. The other 51% was then bought the following year by Penske Media, which subsequently acquired the other half from Bandlab.

Jann Wenner Says Black, Female Musicians Not Articulate Enough for His New Book ‘The Masters’
Wenner revealed to The New York Times that he allowed interview subjects (often his famous friends) to edit their transcripts: “They were always meant to be cooperative interviews.”
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