Founder of music magazine Rolling Stone under fire after controversial interview 08:46 in Cultuur & Media Jann Wenner’s explanation for why he had not interviewed female or black artists for his book was seen as misogynistic and racist. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame immediately fired him.

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Jann Wenner in 2004
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The founder of music magazine Rolling Stone has lost his position in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame after a controversial interview with The New York Times. Jann Wenner’s answer to the question of why he only included interviews with white men in his book The Masters was widely seen as misogynistic and racist.

The 77-year-old Wenner included seven interviews with musical greats in his book: Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, John Lennon, Jerry Garcia, Bruce Springsteen, Bono and Pete Townshend. The New York Times asked him whether there should not have been a female or black artist among them.

Wenner called it “an emotional choice.” “As far as women were concerned, there wasn’t one who was articulate enough at that intellectual level,” he reasoned, although the interviewer offered options like Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Nicks or Madonna.

‘Not a philosopher of rock ‘n’ roll’

“Not to say they’re not articulate, but try having a deep conversation with Grace Slick or Janis Joplin. Really, go ahead,” was his response, before adding that Joni Mitchell is “not a philosopher of could be called rock ‘n’ roll. “As far as I’m concerned, she doesn’t meet that standard.”

In terms of black artists, Wenner singled out Stevie Wonder (a genius, right?”), Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield as options. “But if you use a word like ‘master,’ maybe it’s that word,” he reasoned. “They just didn’t express it at that level.”

Avoid criticism

Wenner also seems to realize during the interview that his words can come across as hurtful. “Maybe for the sake of public opinion I should have included a black artist and a woman, even though they don’t meet the same historical standard. That way I could have avoided this criticism.”

“Maybe I’m a bit old fashioned and I don’t give a shit.”

In any case, that insight was not enough for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Although Wenner was one of the founders of that hall of fame in 1987, he was dismissed as a board member yesterday. In a press release, few words were said about the reason: “Jann Wenner has been removed from the board of directors of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame,” the foundation’s full statement read.


Wenner founded Rolling Stone in 1967 as the first music magazine to take pop music seriously. He remained associated with the magazine as editor-in-chief for decades and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004 for his influence on the music industry. Mick Jagger was one of the greats who welcomed him at the time.

Rolling Stone itself has devoted an article to the fuss, but has not yet responded to the statements.

Wenner has since apologized for his comments in a statement. “My comments diminished the contributions, genius and impact of Black and female artists. For that, I would like to sincerely apologize.”

He added that the interviews were a reflection of his own preferences. “I understand that my poorly chosen words caused a stir. I apologize for this and accept the consequences.”

  • Culture & Media

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