- 18 Sep 23
Jann Wenner has apologised for remarks he made about Black and female musicians in a New York Times article published on Friday.
Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner was removed from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation's board after comments he made in a New York Times article about Black and female musicians were widely seen as racist and sexist.
Wenner was participating in the interview to promote his upcoming book The Masters, which features interviews from artists he considers to be "the philosophers of rock." His list included Bob Dylan, Jerry Garcia, Mick Jagger, John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, Pete Townshend, and U2’s Bono.
When asked about his decision to only feature white male artists, Wenner implied that black or female artists weren't "articulate" enough for the book.
“It’s not that they’re not creative geniuses," he 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. Not by her work, not by other interviews she did. The people I interviewed were the kind of philosophers of rock.”
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.”
These comments were not received well upon publication of the article, with many people calling the remarks 'racist' and 'sexist'.
This is the most stunning admission of covert racism and sexism I’ve ever heard captured on audio.
Jann Wenner is the founder of Rolling Stone.
That he didn’t find artists like Joni Mitchell or Stevie Wonder “articulate” enough to consider them masters is actually insane. 🔊 pic.twitter.com/JxylEm5PSs
— Renee (@PettyLupone) September 16, 2023
Wenner released an apology statement after it was announced that he would be removed from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame board over the comments.
“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. The Masters is a collection of interviews I’ve done over the years that seemed to me to best represent an idea of rock ‘n’ roll’s impact on my world; they were not meant to represent the whole of music and its diverse and important originators but to reflect the high points of my career and interviews I felt illustrated the breadth and experience in that career."
He continued, "I totally understand the inflammatory nature of badly chosen words and deeply apologize and accept the consequences.”
However, many find the apology to not be enough, as people took to social media to call out Wenner for his comments.
Why poptimism happened: read this wild NYT Jann Wenner Q&A, in which JW argues that Black & women artists aren't as "articulate on an intellectual level" as white male rockers. Poptimism was a corrective to a critical consensus that hallowed white dudes w/guitars above all others pic.twitter.com/ftdNsFqgjC
— Jody Rosen (@jodyrosen) September 15, 2023
- Film & TV
- 23 Jun 23