Rolling Stone founder removed from Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for saying female and black artists less 'articulate'

Jann Wenner
Jann Wenner later apologised for his 'badly chosen words' - Evan Agostini/Invision

The founder of Rolling Stone magazine has been dropped by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame after suggesting female and black artists were less “articulate” than their white, male counterparts.

Jann Wenner, 77, made the controversial remarks while promoting his book The Masters, which carries interviews with seven white male artists: Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, John Lennon, Pete Townshend, Jerry Garcia, Bono and Bruce Springsteen.

When asked why there were no black or female artists featured in the book, Mr Wenner said they were not as “articulate”.

“Insofar as the women, just none of them were as articulate enough on this intellectual level,” he told The New York Times.

He added: “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 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.”

Marvin Gaye or Curtis Mayfield

Mr Wenner said he was looking for musicians who were “philosophers of rock”.

He said: “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.”

Acknowledging the lack of diversity in his line-up, he said: “Just for public relations sake, maybe I should have gone and found one black and one woman artist to include here that didn’t measure up to that same historical standard, just to avert this kind of criticism.”

Mr Wenner co-founded Rolling Stone magazine in 1967 where he worked as editor or editorial director until 2019. He also co-founded the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

On Saturday, the day after the interview was published, the latter said: “Jann Wenner has been removed from the board of directors of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation.”

Mr Wenner later apologised through his publisher, Little, Brown and Company, saying: “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.”

He added: “I totally understand the inflammatory nature and badly chosen words and deeply apologise and accept the consequences.”