The co-founder of Rolling Stone magazine has been axed from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame board – a museum he helped create – over inflammatory comments many have blasted as sexist and racist.
Jann Wenner created controversy when he suggested no female or black artists were ‘articulate’ enough to be included in his new book about the ‘philosophers of rock’ – one that profiles seven white male artists.
‘Insofar as the women, just none of them were as articulate enough on this intellectual level… It’s not that they’re not creative geniuses,’ Wenner suggested.
The 77-year-old, who previously hit the headlines when he came out as gay after decades of marriage, was quizzed by the New York Times about the lack of diversity in the line-up of musicians profiled in his latest book, titled ‘The Masters.’
Wenner said no women were ‘articulate enough’ to be counted in the same number, and that black artists like Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield ‘just didn’t articulate at that level’ either.
Jan Wenner, co-founder of Rolling Stone magazine, has been axed from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame board over inflammatory comments many have blasted as sexist and racist. (Pictured: Wenner speaking at the 32nd annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in 2017)
Wenner (right) created controversy when he suggested no female or black artists were ‘articulate’ enough to be included in his new book about the ‘philosophers of rock’ – which profiles seven white male artists including Bob Dylan
‘Insofar as the women, just none of them were as articulate enough,’ Wenner told the New York Times while explaining why no female or black artists were profiled in his new book about the ‘philosophers of rock’. (Pictured: Wenner with Stevie Nicks and Bette Midler in 2007)
He apologized for his remarks soon after, but not before he was swiftly axed from the board of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – which he co-founded in 1987, and presided over as chairman until 2020.
‘Jann Wenner has been removed from the board of directors of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation,’ a short statement from the foundation said, according to industry sheet Variety.
Wenner suggested you could not have a ‘deep conversation’ with artist Grace Slick
In his Times interview, Wenner said his all-male selection was ‘not deliberate’ but ‘just fell together that way’.
‘The people had to meet a couple criteria, but it was just kind of my personal interest and love of them,’ he said.
‘Insofar as the women, just none of them were as articulate enough on this intellectual level… It’s not that they’re not creative geniuses.
‘It’s not that they’re inarticulate – 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.
‘Not by her work, not by other interviews she did. The people I interviewed were the kind of philosophers of rock.’
‘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.’
Co-founder and publisher of Rolling Stone magazine Wenner interviews legendary rock guitarist, singer and songwriter Jimi Hendrix in San Francisco in 1968
Paul McCartney, Wenner and Ringo Starr attend the 30th Annual Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony at Public Hall on April 18, 2015
Sheryl Crow, Wenner, John Sykes, Don Henley and former Vice President Al Gore
Wenner even acknowledged his remarks would grate on some and suggested he should have included a token black or female artist in his book.
‘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,’ Wenner said.
His book has been plugged as ‘a remarkable collection of new and collected interviews with the greatest rock stars and cultural icons of our time’.
He apologized through his publisher, Little, Brown and Company, hours after the interview was published.
‘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,’ Wenner said.
‘I totally understand the inflammatory nature and badly chosen words and deeply apologize and accept the consequences.’
Wenner previously hit the headlines for divorcing his wife of 43 years to begin his new life as a gay man.
Paul McCartney and Wenner attend the 30th Annual Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony at Public Hall on April 18, 2015, in Cleveland
Yoko Ono, Wenner and Sean Lennon during The 19th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in New York City in 2004
Jann and Jane Wenner’s split in 2011 sparked speculation it could have the knock-on effect of breaking up the Wenner Media publishing empire.
But Jane reportedly secured a large cash sum while Wenner was free to marry his boyfriend, who he left her for in 1995 – Calvin Klein model and designer Matt Nye.
Wenner co-founded Rolling Stone magazine in 1967, and in subsequent decades, he celebrated a multitude of rock legends in its pages in lengthy interviews.
Rolling Stone became the leading music magazine of its time, later expanding into cultural affairs, conducting interviews of top politicians and fostering a style of ‘new journalism’ that brought techniques of fiction writing to the reporting of stories.
Wenner sold a controlling stake in Rolling Stone magazine in 2017 in a deal that valued the publication at a reported $110 million.
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