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Rock Hall Removes JANN WENNER From Board Of Directors Over Comments About Black & Female Artists

Wenner is also a co-founder of Rolling Stone.

Jann Wenner

Jann Wenner has been removed from the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame board of directors after some controversial comments about black and female artists.

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In an interview with the New York Times, Wenner was asked why he didn't interview black or female musicians for his new book The Masters. The book features numerous conversations with artists like Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen, Bono, and more. The Masters is billed as "a visit to the Mount Olympus of rock" and features Wenner's interviews from the past 50 years.

"In the introduction [of the book], you acknowledge that performers of color and women performers are just not in your zeitgeist," asked journalist David Marchese. "Which to my mind is not plausible for Jann Wenner. Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Nicks, Stevie Wonder, the list keeps going — not in your zeitgeist?" Marchese asked.

"When I was referring to the zeitgeist, I was referring to black performers, not to the female performers, okay?" Wenner responded. "Just to get that accurate. The selection was not a deliberate selection. It was kind of intuitive over the years; it just fell together that way. The people had to meet a couple criteria, but it was just kind of my personal interest and love of them. Insofar as the women, just none of them were as articulate enough on this intellectual level."

Marchese was obviously taken aback by the comments and asked "Oh, stop it. You're telling me Joni Mitchell is not articulate enough on an intellectual level?" Marchese then allowed Wenner to rephrase his answer.

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"It's not that they're not creative geniuses," responded Wenner. "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 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."

He added: "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."

Wenner has since apologized for his comments after being booted from the Rock Hall board, saying "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. 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."

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Wenner was a part of the original team put together in 1983 by Ahmet Ertegun to start the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. Wenner is also a co-founder of Rolling Stone.

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