NEW YORK - Jann Wenner, co-founder of Rolling Stone magazine, has been removed from the board of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, which he helped found, one day after an interview with him was published in The New York Times in which he made comments that were widely criticised as sexist and racist.
The foundation – which inducts artists into the hall of fame and was the organisation behind the creation of its affiliated museum in Cleveland – made the announcement in a brief statement released on Saturday.
“Jann Wenner has been removed from the board of directors of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation,” the statement said. Joel Peresman, president and CEO of the foundation, declined to comment further when reached by phone.
But the dismissal of Wenner comes after an interview with the Times, which was published on Friday and timed to the publication of his new book, called The Masters, which collects his decades of interviews with rock legends such as Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen and Bono – all of them white and male.
In the interview, David Marchese of the Times asked Wenner, 77, why the book included no women or people of colour.
Regarding women, Wenner said, “Just none of them were as articulate enough on this intellectual level,” and he remarked that Joni Mitchell “was not a philosopher of rock ’n’ roll”.
His answer about artists of colour was less direct. “Of Black artists – you know, Stevie Wonder, genius, right?” he said. “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’s comments drew an immediate reaction, with his quotes mocked on social media and past criticisms unearthed of Rolling Stone’s coverage of female artists under Wenner. Joe Hagan, who in 2017 wrote a harshly critical biography of Wenner, Sticky Fingers, cited a comment by feminist critic Ellen Willis, who in 1970 called the magazine “viciously anti-woman”.
In a statement issued late on Saturday by a representative for Little, Brown and Co., the publisher of his book, Wenner 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 apologise wholeheartedly for those remarks....