Just hours after he was removed from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation board of directors, Rolling Stone co-founder Jann Wenner issued an apology for saying he chose interviews with a pantheon of white male musicians who he dubs the “philosophers of rock” because Black and female musicians were not “articulate at that level.”
Late Saturday, the publisher of Wenner’s book Masters issued the following statement from Wenner: “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.”
He continued, “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. 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 was removed from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, which he co-founded, after a New York Times interview regarding his book, which features interviews with Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, Bono, Jerry Garcia and Pete Townsend.
Asked by the Times why he confined the book’s interviews to white males, Wenner said “it just fell together that way.”
He then said that none of the women he considered were “as articulate enough on this intellectual level.”
He added that the people he did interview were selected from his personal interests and love of them, and “were the kind of philosophers of rock.”
Wenner also used the “articulate” argument in his explanation on why he excluded Black artists.
“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.”
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