Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner removed as Rock & Roll Hall of Fame director after comments on black and women musicians

20:19 16.09.2023

Jann Wenner, the co-founder of Rolling Stone magazine and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, has been removed from the board of directors of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation following an interview with The New York Times in which he made comments that were widely criticized as sexist and racist. The foundation, which is responsible for inducting artists into the hall of fame and creating its affiliated museum in Cleveland, released a brief statement on Saturday announcing Wenner's removal.

The controversy began when The New York Times published an interview with Wenner on Friday, coinciding with the release of his new book, "The Masters." The book consists of his decades of interviews with rock legends such as Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, and Bono, all of whom are white and male. In the interview, Wenner was asked why the book included no women or people of color.

Wenner's response regarding women was deemed particularly offensive. He stated, "Just none of them were as articulate enough on this intellectual level," and singled out Joni Mitchell, saying she "was not a philosopher of rock 'n' roll." When asked about artists of color, Wenner gave a less direct answer, mentioning Stevie Wonder and suggesting that black artists may not have articulated at the same intellectual level.

These comments immediately drew widespread criticism, with social media users mocking Wenner's quotes and highlighting past criticisms of Rolling Stone's coverage of female artists. Ellen Willis, a feminist critic, had previously called the magazine "viciously anti-woman" in 1970. Wenner's remarks only served to further fuel these criticisms.

Wenner, who founded Rolling Stone in 1967 with Ralph J. Gleason and transformed it into a leading music magazine, sold the publication in a series of transactions completed in 2020 and officially left in 2019. He published a memoir, "Like a Rolling Stone," last year.

In addition to his role in Rolling Stone, Wenner was one of the founding members of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation in 1983. He was inducted into the hall as a nonperformer in 2004. However, the foundation has faced criticism over the years for inducting relatively few women and minority artists. By 2019, only 7.7 percent of individuals in the hall were women.

Despite this criticism, recent changes have been applauded by some, and the newest class of inductees includes notable women such as Kate Bush, Sheryl Crow, and Missy Elliott, along with artists like George Michael, Willie Nelson, Rage Against the Machine, and the Spinners. These changes reflect a growing recognition of the need for diversity and inclusion within the hall.

The removal of Wenner from the board of directors of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation signals a clear response to his controversial comments. While Wenner has not yet responded to requests for comment, it is evident that his remarks have had significant repercussions within the music industry and beyond. The incident serves as a reminder of the ongoing struggle for gender and racial equality in the world of rock and roll.

/ Saturday, September 16, 2023, 8:19 PM /

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