Jann Wenner apologizes for ‘inflammatory’ comments amid Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ouster

Jann Wenner sits in an armchair holding a microphone.
Jann Wenner speaks last year at the 92nd Street Y in New York.
(Evan Agostini / Invision / Associated Press)

Rolling Stone magazine founder Jann Wenner acknowledged that his comments in a recent New York Times interview “diminished the contributions, genius and impact of Black and women artists.”

After the New York Times interview went viral, Wenner was removed from the board of directors of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation. Late Saturday, Wenner released a statement shared with The Times on Monday concerning the backlash.

“I apologize wholeheartedly for those remarks,” he said through his publisher, Little, Brown and Company.


The move comes after comments Wenner made about Black and female artists in a New York Times interview promoting his new book, ‘The Masters.’

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Wenner continued defending “The Masters” as a series of interviews that “seemed to me to best represent an idea of rock and roll’s impact on my world,” and not “the whole of music.” He added that his book does not reflect his “appreciation and admiration” for other artists.

He continued: “I totally understand the inflammatory nature of badly chosen words and deeply apologize and accept the consequences.”

Published Friday, the New York Times interview featured Wenner promoting his forthcoming book,“The Masters.” The book is a collection of interviews with the leading rock stars of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s that includes only white men, such as Mick Jagger, Pete Townshend, Bono and Bruce Springsteen.

New York Times reporter David Marchese asked Wenner about the lack of women and Black artists featured in his book.

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“The selection was not a deliberate selection,” Wenner replied. “It was kind of intuitive over the years; it just fell together that way. The people had to meet a couple criteria, but it was just kind of my personal interest and love of them.”

When asked about leaving out music greats like Madonna and Joni Mitchell, he claimed “none of them were as articulate enough on this intellectual level.”


He added: “The people I interviewed were the kind of philosophers of rock.”

On Black trailblazers like Stevie Wonder, Wenner said, “they just didn’t articulate at that level.” His comments swiftly received backlash on social media.

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Wenner is a co-founder of the Rock and Hall of Fame. The organization severed ties with Wenner, but did not elaborate on the reasons for his exit.

Times staff writer Meredith Blake contributed to this report.