Jann Wenner Removed from Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Board of Directors Over Controversial Comments
Jann Wenner, a co-founder of Rolling Stone magazine and a co-founder of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, has been ousted from the board of directors of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation following comments that have sparked outrage and allegations of denigrating Black and female musicians.
The Hall of Fame swiftly made the decision to remove Wenner from the board, coming just one day after his controversial remarks were published in a New York Times interview.
Wenner, 77, has not immediately responded to the decision, and his representative has yet to comment on the matter.
The controversy ignited when Wenner was promoting his new book, “The Masters,” which features interviews with prominent musicians such as Bob Dylan, Jerry Garcia, Mick Jagger, John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, Pete Townshend, and U2’s Bono, all of whom are white males.
When questioned about his choice not to include interviews with women or Black musicians in his book, Wenner made comments that many found offensive. He stated, “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.”
Wenner’s remarks about Black artists were equally contentious. He said, “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.”
Jann Wenner holds a significant place in the music and publishing industries. He co-founded Rolling Stone in 1967 and remained its editor or editorial director until 2019. Additionally, he played a pivotal role in founding the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, established in 1987.
In the same interview, Wenner appeared to acknowledge that his comments might generate backlash, stating, “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.”
It is worth noting that Rolling Stone magazine, with which Wenner has been closely associated, released its list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” last year. This list prominently featured works by Black and female artists, including Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” at No. 1, Joni Mitchell’s “Blue” at No. 3, Stevie Wonder’s “Songs in the Key of Life” at No. 4, Prince and the Revolution’s “Purple Rain” at No. 8, and Ms. Lauryn Hill’s “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” at No. 10.
Jann Wenner’s removal from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame board serves as a reminder of the ongoing discussions surrounding diversity and representation in the music industry and the importance of acknowledging the contributions of musicians from all backgrounds.