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Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Ousts Co-Founder For Comments on Black and Women Musicians

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Ousts Co-Founder For Comments on Black and Women Musicians

Jann Wenner, co-founder of Rolling Stone magazine and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, is facing heavy condemnation for his words.

A co-founder of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame was removed from the hall’s board of directors after making disparaging comments about Black and women musicians.

Jann Wenner, who also co-founded Rolling Stone magazine, said in an interview with the New York Times that he did not interview Black or women musicians for his new book The Masters because he didn't think they would be "articulate" enough.

The book features interviews with "masters" in music, such as Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, and U2’s Bono — all white men.

When asked why he didn’t interview women or Black musicians, Wenner said: “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."

“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,” he continued.

Wenner co-founded Rolling Stone in 1967. He served as its editorial director until 2019, making key decisions such as who to feature on the cover. In co-founding the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, launched in 1987, he held the ability to determine who is inducted and honored.

After the interview was published Friday, Wenner issued an apology on Saturday through his publisher, Little, Brown and Company, stating: “In my interview with the New York Times I made comments that diminished the contributions, genius and impact of Black and women artists and I apologize wholeheartedly for those remarks.”

“I totally understand the inflammatory nature and badly chosen words and deeply apologize and accept the consequences," he added.

Though Wenner seemed to anticipate the backlash in his initial interview, admitting: “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.”

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