Rolling Stone magazine founder Jann Wenner has been removed from the board of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which he also co-founded, following widely criticized comments he made about black and female musicians in an interview with The New York Times. The interview was about his new book The Masters featuring interviews with seven rock and pop legends — all of whom are white men. Interviewer David Marchese asked why there were no women or people of color:
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 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.
The Masters‘ seven interviews are Bob Dylan, Jerry Garcia, Mick Jagger, John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, Pete Townshend, and Bono.
After Wenner was removed from the Rock Hall board, he released a statement: “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 it’s 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 had already stepped down as the Rock Hall chairman in 2019, the same year he officially left Rolling Stone. He was inducted into the Hall in 2004 as an Ahmet Ertegun Award winner.