The co-founder of Rolling Stone magazine seems to have a pretty limited view of what he considers to be rock royalty. And now his new book has him on the outside of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Here’s what’s happening.
To say Jann Wenner is a bigwig in the music industry is an understatement on the order of “Michael Jackson was eccentric.”
Not only is Wenner a co-founder of Rolling Stone magazine, but he also co-founded the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
And during his many decades in the business, Wenner has worked with and interviewed just about every notable musician in the world. That’s a perspective no one else can quite match.
So it’s not surprising that Wenner, now 77, decided to replay some of his favorite interviews in an upcoming book titled “The Masters.”
By all accounts, it was a labor of love for Wenner, who handpicked the subjects he wanted to include in the book based on who he considered to be the “masters” of the trade.
No Women or Minorities
The lineup includes Bob Dylan, Jerry Garcia, Mick Jagger, John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, Pete Townshend, and Bono. In case you hadn’t noticed, those are all white men.
Plenty of people did indeed notice that little factoid, and during an interview to promote the book, David Marchese of the New York Times called Wenner out.
So, why are there no women or minorities in the book?
Wenner said that women just aren’t “articulate enough on this intellectual level.”
And when it came to black artists, Wenner had a similar excuse for excluding them: “I mean, they just didn’t articulate at that level.”
Racist and Sexist Remarks
Those responses ignited an immediate firestorm on social media as posters around the world blasted Wenner for his racist and sexist remarks.
As the frenzy whipped into a froth, Wenner’s comments from the past started to come out of the woodwork. Longtime detractors were only too happy to pile onto the dumpster fire of his reputation.
Joe Hagan wrote a scathing biography of Wenner a few years ago, and when the latest controversy broke, Hagan was ready to offer up another contribution.
Taking to Twitter, Hagan dredged up a 1970s quote from feminist Ellen Willis, who called Wenner “viciously anti-woman.”
Wenner tried to walk back his words in a statement through his publisher, apologizing for comments “that diminished the contributions, genius and impact of Black and women artists.”
Too Little Too Late
But it was too little too late for Wenner, and his legacy began to crumble just a day after the New York Times interview was published.
That’s when Joel Peresman, president of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, announced that Wenner had been removed from the board of directors.
And so, as he awaits the release of his “masters” book, Wenner finds himself excommunicated from the organization he helped build 40 years ago.
Wenner himself was inducted into the Hall in 2004 as a non-performer, but now you have to wonder how much longer that honor will last.
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Ralf Liebhold