Jann Wenner removed from Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Board after interview

The co-founder was removed following a heated conference call

Jann Wenner has been removed from the Board of Directors of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, the establishment he co-founded in 1987. Wenner, who also founded Rolling Stone magazine, was removed following the publication of a New York Times article in which he stated that black and female musicians “didn’t articulate” at the level of white musicians.

Wenner was promoting his forthcoming book The Masters, featuring interviews with Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Pete Townshend, Jerry Garcia, Bono, and Bruce Springsteen. Times writer Dave Marchese asked why Wenner had only included white musicians in the book, to which Wenner replied, “It’s not that they’re not creative geniuses. 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. 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.”

On Saturday (Sept 16th), Wenner released a public apology through The New York Times. He says the interviews in the book “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 its 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.”

He continues, “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.”

According to Variety, Wenner was removed during a “heated emergency conference call” with board members, including veteran executives Irving Azoff and Doug Morris, YouTube Music Chief Lyor Cohen and longtime Springsteen manager Jon Landau. Wenner had one last chance to plead his case but ultimately removed after angering the board members for a “bad apology.”

“Jann Wenner has been removed from the Board of Directors of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation,” the organization says.

Wenner founded Rolling Stone in 1967 and served as its editor or editorial director until 2019, a few months after the publication was acquired by Penske Media Corporation.

Buddy Iahn
Buddy Iahn

Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites. Email: info@themusicuniverse.com