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Jann Wenner removed from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame board after controversial statements about black and female musicians


Rolling stone co-founder Jann Wenner has been fired from his position on the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation’s board of directors following a controversial interview he gave about black and female musicians.

Wenner recently participated in an interview with The New York Timeswhich was published online on Friday to promote his new book, The masters. The book contains interviews with rock legends such as Bono, Bob Dylan, Jerry Garcia, Mick Jagger, John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen and Pete Townshend. However, it does not include any interviews with black or female musicians.

When asked how he chose the musicians to play, Wenner responded, “When I talked about the spirit of the times, I was talking about black artists, not the female artists, okay? Just to get that accurate. The choice was not a conscious one. It was quite intuitive over the years; that’s how it just fell together. The people had to meet a few criteria, but it was just kind of my personal interest and love for them. As for the women, none of them were articulate enough at this intellectual level,” he said.

The times reporter David Marchese, once an online editor at Rolling stonereturned to that statement by quoting Joni Mitchell.

“It’s not that they’re not creative geniuses,” Wenner replied. ‘It’s not that they’re unclear, but have a deep conversation with Grace Slick or Janis Joplin. Please be my guest. You know, Joni wasn’t a rock ‘n’ roll philosopher. I don’t think she passed that test. Not because of her work, not because of other interviews she did. The people I interviewed were the kind of rock philosophers. From black artists – you know, Stevie Wonder, genius, right? I suppose if you use a word as broad as ‘masters’ then the error lies in the use of that word. Maybe Marvin Gaye or Curtis Mayfield? I mean, they just didn’t articulate at that level.

Wenner said he based his claim on his own intuition, reading interviews and listening to music.

“I mean, look what Pete Townshend wrote about, or Jagger, or whoever,” he continued. “They were profound things about a certain generation, a certain spirit and a certain attitude towards rock ‘n’ roll. Not that the others weren’t, but these were the ones who could really put it into words.

Wenner further acknowledged that he could have included a black musician and a female musician “just for the sake of public relations” to avoid criticism.

“Maybe I should have found a black artist and a female artist to include here who didn’t meet the same historical standard, just to deflect this kind of criticism,” he said. “What, I get it. I had the opportunity to do that. Maybe I’m old fashioned and don’t give a (expletive) or whatever. In retrospect, I wish I could have interviewed Marvin Gaye. Maybe he would have been the man. Maybe if Otis Redding were still alive, he would have been the man.

Not long after the story was published Friday, many readers — including journalists — criticized Wenner on social media for his comments.

On Saturday, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame announced that Wenner has been removed from the board with the following simple statement: “Jann Wenner has been removed from the Board of Directors of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation.”

Wenner led Rolling stone for five decades before stepping down in 2019.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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