Co-founder of Rolling Stone magazine Jann Wenner has been removed from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame foundation board after saying Black artists weren't "articulate" enough to be included in his book.
On Sunday (September 17), the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation confirmed Wenner's exit.
“Jann Wenner has been removed from the board of directors of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation,” a representative told CNN.
Wenner's removal came after he spoke to the New York Times about his upcoming book "The Masters", which included interviews with John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, and others.
When speaking to the Times, Wenner explained why he didn't include interviews with women and Black artists in his book.
“The people had to meet a couple criteria, but it was just kind of my personal interest and love of them,” Wenner said, adding “Insofar as the women, just none of them were as articulate enough on this intellectual level.”
“Stevie Wonder, genius, right?" he continued. "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.”
“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,” Wenner told the Times. “Maybe I’m old-fashioned and I don’t give a (expletive) or whatever. I wish in retrospect I could have interviewed Marvin Gaye. Maybe he’d have been the guy. Maybe Otis Redding, had he lived, would have been the guy.”
After receiving widespread backlash for his comments, Wenner issued an apology on Saturday (September 16).
“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," Wenner said.
“‘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 said. "They don’t reflect my appreciation and admiration for myriad totemic, world-changing artists whose music and ideas I revere and will celebrate and promote as long as I live. I totally understand the inflammatory nature of badly chosen words and deeply apologize and accept the consequences.”
Wenner founded Rolling Stone magazine in 1967 with music critic Ralph J. Gleason. He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2004 and co-founded the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation.