Following widespread criticism for controversial comments made in a New York Times interview published Friday (9.16) concerning female and Black musicians, co-founder of Rolling Stone magazine, Jann Wenner, has since been removed from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation’s board of directors.
In a statement to the New York Times on Saturday (9.16,) the president and chief executive of the foundation, Joel Peresman said “Jann Wenner has been removed from the board of directors of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation.”
In an interview with the Times, Wenner spoke about “The Masters,” his upcoming book which features interviews he conducted while at the helm of Rolling Stone with such musicians as John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger and more. And in the piece, he addressed his decision to not include interviews with women and Black artists, stating:
“The people had to meet a couple criteria, but it was just kind of my personal interest and love of them.” “Insofar as the women, just none of them were as articulate enough on this intellectual level.” “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.” “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.” “Maybe I’m old-fashioned and I don’t give a (expletive) or whatever. I wish in retrospect I could have interviewed Marvin Gaye. Maybe he’d have been the guy. Maybe Otis Redding, had he lived, would have been the guy.”
In an attempt to clarify and apologize for his prior comments, on Saturday (9.16), Wenner released a statement through Little, Brown and Company, the publisher of “The Masters,” stating:
“In my interview with The New York Times I made comments that diminished the contributions, genius and impact of Black and women artists and I apologize 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; 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. I totally understand the inflammatory nature of badly chosen words and deeply apologize and accept the consequences.”
Wenner founded Rolling Stone magazine with music critic Ralph J. Gleason in 1967 and put the legendary rock magazine up for sale in 2017. He was inducted in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as an individual in 2004, and is a co-founder of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation.