Rolling Stone’s Jann Wenner criticized for comments about black female rockers: NPR

Jann Wenner talks about her new book Like a Rolling Stone: A Memoir at the 92nd Street Y on Tuesday, September 13, 2022, in New York.

Evan Agostini/Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

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Evan Agostini/Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Jann Wenner talks about her new book Like a Rolling Stone: A Memoir at the 92nd Street Y on Tuesday, September 13, 2022, in New York.

Evan Agostini/Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Jann Wenner, founder of Rolling Stone magazine, is under fire for saying black and female musicians weren’t “articulate” enough to be included in his new book, which features seven interviews with white male rock ‘n’ roll icons.

The outcry over Wenner’s comments prompted the famed music journalist to issue an apology and he was also kicked off the board of directors of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation.

“In my interview with The New York Times, I made comments that diminished the contributions, genius and impact of black and female artists and I sincerely apologize for those remarks,” Wenner said Saturday evening on a release through its publisher, Little, Brown and Company. — The Associated Press reported.

“I completely understand the inflammatory nature and poorly chosen words, I deeply apologize and accept the consequences,” he added.

The uproar began Friday when the Times published his interview with Wenner, which was promoting his upcoming book, The Masters.

The 368-page volume contains interviews with musicians such as Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen and others. It should be noted that all seven subjects interviewed are white men.

Journalist David Marchese asked Wenner why no famous black women or rockers – like Janis Joplin or Stevie Wonder – had been selected.

Wenner said the men he interviewed were “kind of rock philosophers” and that no female musicians were “as eloquent on that intellectual level” as the men.

“It’s not that they’re inarticulate, though, go have an in-depth conversation with Grace Slick or Janis Joplin. Please be my guest,” Wenner said. “You know, Joni (Mitchell) was not a rock ‘n’ roll philosopher. She did not, in my mind, pass that test. Neither through her work nor through the other interviews she has do.”

Wenner also dismissed black artists, saying he had an idea of ​​how they would speak by listening to their music and reading interviews with them.

“Black artists, you know, Stevie Wonder, genius, right? I guess 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 did it. I can’t speak to that level,” he said.

Wenner defended the selection of interviewees as “intuitive” and musicians who “interested him”, and suggested that he should have included female and black artists to appease critics.

“You know, just for PR reasons, maybe I should have found a black artist and a woman to include here who didn’t meet the same historical standards, just to avoid that kind of criticism. Which I understand .I was lucky enough to do it,” he said. “Maybe I’m old fashioned and don’t care (expletive) or whatever. I wish, in retrospect, I could have interviewed Marvin Gaye. Maybe he would have been the guy. Maybe Otis Redding, if he had lived, would have been the guy.”

In a brief statement Sunday, a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame spokesperson said Wenner had been removed from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation board of directors.

Founded in 1967, Rolling Stone became known for its visually arresting covers, investigative journalism and extensive interviews with top musicians.

Wenner Media, the former parent company of Rolling Stone, sold a majority stake in the magazine to Penske Media in 2017.


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