Jann Wenner has been removed from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation’s Board of Directors, a representative for the Hall of Fame confirmed to Pitchfork. The Rolling Stone founder has faced criticism for comments he made about Black and female musicians in an interview published yesterday in The New York Times, wherein he also admitted to letting interview subjects edit their own transcripts while at Rolling Stone.
During the conversation with The Times’ David Marchese, Wenner discussed his new book, The Masters, which compiles conversations he’s had with seven artists he denotes “the philosophers of rock”: Bob Dylan, Jerry Garcia, Mick Jagger, John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, Pete Townshend, and U2’s Bono. When Marchese asked Wenner about his decision to feature only white men, Wenner called the choice “intuitive,” further stating that “none of” the female artists he encountered during his Rolling Stone tenure were “articulate enough” to merit inclusion in The Masters.
“It’s not that they’re not creative geniuses,” Wenner 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.”
A few hours after Wenner’s removal was announced, he released a statement apologizing for his comments. He said: “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 it’s 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 stepped down as chairman of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2019, after taking on the position in 2006. He was previously inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2004 as an Ahmet Ertegun Award winner. Wenner also officially departed Rolling Stone in 2019, over 50 years after founding the magazine in 1967.
This article was originally published on Saturday, September 16 at 9:48 p.m. Eastern. It was last updated on Saturday, September 16 at 11:06 p.m. Eastern.