Jann Wenner at a performance in 2022
Photo: Evan Agostini / Evan Agostini/Invision/AP
Jann Wenner, co-founder of the music magazine »Rolling Stone«, has been expelled from the board of directors of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, according to US media reports, which had classified statements by him as sexist and racist. Jann Wenner has been dismissed from the board of directors of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame," the industry journal "Variety" quoted a statement from the foundation. Wenner's remarks in a report in the New York Times had previously triggered far-reaching criticism.
The newspaper had asked the 77-year-old why neither non-white people nor women are mentioned in his new book "The Masters". In it, Wenner portrays musicians Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Pete Townshend, Jerry Garcia, Bono and Bruce Springsteen. According to the paper, Wenner said that his seven protagonists were a kind of "philosophers of rock" who had profound things to say about the spirit of their generation: "These are the ones who could really articulate it."
To women, he said, "None of them were so eloquent on this intellectual level." Even black geniuses like Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield and Martin Gaye would not have expressed themselves on this level. "Just for the sake of public relations, maybe I should have gone out and found and included a black artist and a female artist who didn't meet the same historical standard, just to avert that kind of criticism," Wenner said.
Publisher publishes apology
After the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame parted ways with him, the publisher Little, Brown and Company, which published the book, released a statement. In it, Wenner apologizes: "In my interview with the New York Times, I made remarks that belittled the contribution, genius, and influence of black and female artists, and I apologize from the bottom of my heart." The »New York Times«, among others, reports on the reaction.
"The Masters" is a collection of interviews he has conducted over the years. Included in the book, he said, were conversations "that seemed to me to be best suited to convey an idea of the influence of rock 'n' roll on my world; they should not represent the whole of music and its diverse and important authors," Wenner explained. He wanted to portray the highlights of his career. He is aware of the seditious character of poorly chosen words, he accepts the consequences.
Wenner co-founded »Rolling Stone« in 1967 and sold his shares at the end of 2017. For decades, he often conducted long interviews with a variety of rock legends. The paper became the leading music magazine of its time and later began to publish pieces on other cultural topics or interviews with top politicians. Until 2020, Wenner was chairman of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, which maintains a museum in Clveland, Ohio, and incorporates a limited number of musicians and personalities from the rock business each year.