Rolling Stone Co-founder Jon Wenner has apologized after making controversial comments about black and female musicians.
The apology came Saturday night, hours after the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced that he would be removed from the foundation’s board of directors.
In an interview The New York Times — which was published online Friday to promote his new book, Masters — Wenner didn’t include interviews with black and female musicians in his book because he said they weren’t “revealing” enough. On Saturday, he said he apologized “wholeheartedly” for his comments.
“In my interview The New York Times, “I made comments that belittled the contributions, genius, and impact of black and female artists, and I sincerely apologize for those comments,” she said.Masters It was a collection of interviews I had done over the years that seemed to best represent the influence of rock ‘n’ roll on my world; They’re not meant to represent the whole of music, it’s diverse and important originators, but rather reflect the high points of my career and interviews that I felt illustrated the breadth and experience of that career. They do not reflect my appreciation and admiration for countless totemic, world-changing artists whose music and ideas I cherish and will celebrate and promote as long as I live. I fully understand the hurtful nature of ill-chosen words and deeply apologize and accept the consequences.
Wenner’s book features interviews with rock legends such as Bono, Bob Dylan, Jerry Garcia, Mick Jagger, John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen and Pete Townshend. However, it does not include interviews with black or female musicians.
Asked by The Times As for how she chose the musicians, Wenner replied: “When I mention the zeitgeist, I’m referring to black artists, not female artists, right? Just to get it right. The selection wasn’t a deliberate choice. It was kind of instinctive over the years; it just fell together. People had to meet a couple of criteria, but it was just my personal interest and love for them. As for women, none of them were clear enough at this intellectual level,” she said.
The Times Correspondent David Marches, a part-time online editor Rolling StoneJoni Mitchell pushed back on that claim.
“It’s not that they aren’t creative geniuses,” Wenner replied. “Go have an in-depth conversation with Grace Slick or Janis Joplin. Please be my guest. You know Joni’s not the philosopher of rock ‘n’ roll. She doesn’t meet that test in my mind. Not because of her work, not because of the other interviews she’s done. The people I interviewed were rock philosophers. Black artists. — You know, Stevie Wonder, genius, right? If you use a broad term like ‘masters,’ I think that’s using the word wrong. Maybe Marvin Gaye, or Curtis Mayfield? I mean, they just don’t express at that level.
Wenner said he based his conviction on his own intuition and by reading interviews and listening to music.
“I mean, look at what Pete Townshend’s writing about, or Jagger, or any of those,” he continued. “They’re deep things about a certain generation, a certain spirit and a certain attitude about rock ‘n’ roll. Not that there aren’t others, but these are the ones that can really express it.
Wenner admitted that he may have included a black musician and a female musician for “public relations” to avoid criticism.
“Maybe I should have gone and added a black and a female artist here, which doesn’t measure up to the same historical standards, to avoid criticism like this,” she said. “Which, I understand. I got a chance to do that. Maybe I’m old fashioned and I just don’t give a damn [expletive] Or whatever. In retrospect I wish I had interviewed Marvin Gaye. Maybe he was a boy. Perhaps Otis Redding, had he lived, would have been a boy.
Shortly after Friday’s story was published, several readers — including journalists — took to social media to criticize Wenner for her comments.
On Saturday, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced Wenner’s removal from the board with the following simple statement: “John Wenner has been removed from the Board of Directors of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation.”
Wenner presided Rolling Stone For five decades before stepping down in 2019. He is also a co-founder of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Julian Sancton contributed to this report.