Via a terse September 16, 2023 announcement from the organization, the Rolling Stone magazine co-founder, and longtime co-editor/publisher Jann Wenner has been ousted from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation’s powerful Board of Directors.
This is a result of Wenner’s interview with The New York Times, in which he criticized Black and female recording artists.
As a number of sources report, the interview with writer David Marchese was intended to drum up interest in Wenner’s latest book, The Masters: Conversations With Dylan, Lennon, Jagger, Townshend, Garcia, Bono, and Springsteen, to be published September 26, 2023.
Instead, as the longtime chair of the small, secretive, and extremely non-transparent Rock Hall nominating committee was the ultimate gatekeeper of which artists were considered for induction— is in the headlines for all of the wrong reasons.
In the Times interview, conducted over the phone, Marchese, who worked briefly for Rolling Stone a decade ago, lobbed Jann Wenner several softball questions.
Wenner, not only swung and missed — repeatedly — he also managed to shoot himself in the foot with his responses, even when offered a chance to clarify himself. Marchese asked him why the book’s seven interview subjects were all old, white men, while ignoring equally prominent women or people of color, citing Carole King, Stevie Wonder, and Madonna, as examples, among many others.
“The people had to meet a couple of criteria, but it was just kind of my personal interest and love of them,” was Wenner’s reply. “Insofar as the women, just none of them were as articulate enough on this intellectual level.” Marchese, incredulous, asked, “You’re telling me Joni Mitchell is not articulate enough on an intellectual level?”
Wenner dug himself deeper. “It’s not that they’re not creative geniuses. It’s not that they’re inarticulate, although, go have a deep conversation with Grace Slick or Janis Joplin. Please, be my guest.”
Jann Wenner continued: “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.”
CULTURE (counter, pop, and otherwise) and the people who shape it.