Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner apologizes for disparaging Black and female artists

13:05 18.09.2023 - The Guardian, Edward Helmore

In interview about new book The Masters, Wenner had said no female or Black musicians were as articulate as white performers.

Jann Wenner, founder of Rolling Stone and a co-founder of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, has apologized for remarks he made disparaging Black and female artists as less intellectually articulate than their white counterparts.

The 77-year-old's statements - made in an interview published on Friday by the New York Times in which he explained why he had included only white rock performers, whom he dubbed the "philosophers of rock", in a book compiling his interviews - led to a unanimous vote removing Wenner from the hall of fame board.

/ Monday, September 18, 2023, 1:05 PM /

themes:  New York (state)

Rolling Stone co-founder Jann Wenner removed from Rock & Roll Hall of Fame board

Rolling Stone magazine co-founder Jann Wenner was removed from his position on the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's board of directors after comments he made about Black and female artists that were widely criticized, the hall said in a statement.

In a terse statement, the Cleveland-based Hall of Fame offered no reason for its move, saying, "Jann Wenner has been removed from the Board of Directors of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation."

In an interview with the New York Times published on Friday about his upcoming book titled "The Masters," which consists of seven interviews Wenner did over his career with musicians including Mick Jagger and Bob Dylan, he was pressed on why all seven interviews in the book were with white men.

Wenner, 77, said Black and female musicians were not "as articulate" as the others he chose to profile.

"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, who also co-founded the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, said.

He later apologized for the remarks. Wenner could not immediately be reached for comment on his removal.

Rolling Stone founder removed from Rock and Roll Hall of Fame over black and female artists slur

Jann Wenner's says his book Masters contains seven interviews with white male rockers because black and female artists less 'articulate'.

The founder of Rolling Stone magazine has been dropped by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame after suggesting female and black artists were less articulate than their white, male counterparts.

Jann Wenner, 77, made the controversial remarks while promoting his book The Masters, which carries interviews with seven white male artists: Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, John Lennon, Pete Townshend, Jerry Garcia, Bono and Bruce Springsteen.

When asked why there were no black or female artists featured in the book, Mr Wenner said they were not as articulate.

"Insofar as the women, just none of them were as articulate enough on this intellectual level," he told The New York Times.

He added: "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."

Marvin Gaye or Curtis Mayfield

Mr Wenner said he was looking for musicians who were "philosophers of rock".

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."

Why was Rolling Stone's Jann Wenner removed from Rock & Roll Hall board?


The Cleveland-based museum and hall of fame released a brief statement about the decision a day after Wenner's widely criticised comments about Black and female artists were published.

Here is what you need to know about Wenner's removal:

What did Wenner say?

In an interview with The New York Times published on Friday, Wenner talked about his new book, The Masters, which is set to be released on September 26.

The book includes interviews conducted by Wenner with Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Jerry Garcia, John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, Bono and Pete Townshend.

All of the featured artists in The Masters are white men.

When asked why he did not include perspectives of Black and female artists, Wenner said his decision was based on his personal interest in the artists' work.


Wenner, who co-founded Rolling Stone in 1967, added that he should have interviewed one woman and one Black artist for the public's sake and to avert criticism despite them not measuring up to the standard.

His comments have been widely criticised as disparaging.

What was Wenner's relationship with the hall of fame?

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame removed Wenner from its board of directors on Saturday.

Wenner was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004. Twenty-one years earlier, he had co-founded the Rock Hall of Fame Foundation, which built the museum and chooses the inductees.

How has Wenner responded to the criticism?

Wenner issued an apology for his remarks on Saturday through a spokesperson for Little, Brown, and Company, the publisher of his book.

"I made comments that diminished the contributions, genius and impact of Black and women artists, and I apologise wholeheartedly for those remarks," he said, adding that he acknowledges the inflammatory nature of the language used and accepts the consequences.

How has Rolling Stone responded?

Rolling Stone released a statement on X, formerly Twitter, about Wenner's comments.

Our statement on Jann Wenner's recent comments.

- Rolling Stone (@RollingStone) September 18, 2023

The tweet stated that Wenner has not been directly involved in the operations of the magazine since 2019.

The statement added that Wenner's comments do not reflect the values of the American publication, which strives to promote diversity in music, especially since Wenner's departure.

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