Rolling Stone magazine co-founder axed from Rock hall of fame board

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The co-founder of Rolling Stone magazine, Jann Wenner, has been ousted from his seat on the board of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation for comments blasted as racist and sexist, US media reported on Saturday.

Wenner’s removal from the board of the foundation came only a day after his remarks were published in The New York Times, generating wide criticism.

“Jann Wenner has been removed from the board of directors of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation,” a short statement from the foundation said, according to industry sheet Variety.

Rolling Stone magazine’s 2004 Immortals edition. Photo: Handout

The 77-year-old Wenner co-founded Rolling Stone magazine in 1967, and in subsequent decades he celebrated a multitude of rock legends in its pages in lengthy interviews.

Wenner also set up the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, which selects artists to be honoured, and served as its chairman until 2020.

In the Times report published on Friday, Wenner was asked why he did not feature any interviews with people of colour or female musicians in his new book, The Masters, now in print.


Wenner said the seven subjects in the book “were the kind of philosophers of rock” who had deep things to say about the spirit of their generation.

“These are the ones that could really articulate it,” Wenner said.

Bob Dylan performing in London in 2019. Photo: Getty Images for ABA

The subjects whom Wenner profiles are Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Pete Townshend, Jerry Garcia, Bono and Bruce Springsteen, all white men.

On women, Wenner said, “Just none of them were as articulate enough on this intellectual level.”

“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.”

Singer Stevie Wonder during an event in Detroit, Michigan, in 2020. Photo: AFP

Wenner voiced awareness in the interview that his remarks would grate on some.


“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,” Wenner said.

Rolling Stone became the leading music magazine of its time, later expanding into cultural affairs, conducting interviews of top politicians and fostering a style of “new journalism” that brought techniques of fiction writing to the reporting of stories.


Wenner sold a controlling stake in Rolling Stone magazine in 2017 in a deal that valued the publication at a reported $110 million.


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