The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation has removed Rolling Stone magazine co-founder Jann Wenner from its board of directors, the organization announced Saturday.
The Rock Hall referred reporters to a publicity firm, which confirmed in an emailed statement that Wenner had been removed from the board of the organization he helped found in 1983.
The news comes a day after it was published in The New York Times an interview with Wenner about his upcoming book “The Masters,” which features interviews with musicians — all white men — including Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen and Bono. Wenner was asked why the book did not contain any interviews with women or people of color.
“None of them were just articulate enough on that intellectual level,” Wenner is quoted as saying about the women of rock.
In the interview, he expressed similar thoughts about black rock artists, some of whom created the music and culture that Wenner reflected on and benefited from with Rolling Stone.
“From black artists — you know, Stevie Wonder, a genius, right?” Wenner said, according to the interview. “I suppose when you use a word as broad as ‘master’, the mistake is in using that word. Maybe Marvin Gaye or Curtis Mayfield? I mean, they just couldn’t articulate themselves at that level.”
Wenner said in the interview that his choice of musicians for the book was “intuitive” and “what interested me,” acknowledging that there could be criticism of his choice.
“You know, just for publicity reasons, maybe I should have found a Black artist and a female artist who didn’t meet that historical standard to avert that kind of criticism,” he said in the interview. “Which I understand. I had the chance.”
On Saturday evening, Wenner released a statement apologizing for his comments.
“In my interview with The New York Times, I made comments that diminished the contributions, genius and influence of black and women artists, and I sincerely apologize for those comments,” he said.
The author said the upcoming book is “not intended to represent all of music and its diverse and important creators, but rather to reflect highlights of my career and interviews that I believe illustrate the breadth and experience of that career.”
Wenner said he has an admiration for “world-changing artists” not featured in the book and whom he will celebrate and promote “as long as I live.”
His publisher, Little, Brown & Company, did not respond to a request for comment Saturday evening.
Wenner’s comments in the New York Times interview were widely criticized.
Evelyn McDonnell, a journalism professor and expert on music, gender and politics at Loyola Marymount University, said on Facebook that Wenner expressed decades of sexism and racism that underlie many “false ‘master’ narratives about music history.”
She said that exclusion inspired her to curate and edit the book “Rock She Wrote” with NPR pop critic Ann Powers in 1995, to report on gender inequality in the Hall of Fame and to publish the book “Women Who Rock.” .
Author Dawnie Walton called Wenner’s quoted words were “angry, disgusting, offensive.”
Craig Seymourwho describes himself as a “black gay music critic,” said on
Rolling Stone was known for initially rejecting waves of music, from hip-hop to electronic dance music, that might have existed outside of its vision of rock and roll culture – a vision usually dominated by white, baby boomer-created music becomes poetic and has anti-establishment undertones.
Wenner founded Rolling Stone in 1967 with journalist Ralph J. Gleason in San Francisco.