The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame announced it removed Rolling Stone co-founder Jann Wenner from the hall’s board of directors following controversial comments he made about Black and female musicians in an interview published last week. 

“Jann Wenner has been removed from the Board of Directors of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation,” the hall said Saturday, one day after Wenner’s comments were published in a New York Times interview last Friday.

In an interview with The New York Times about his new book, “The Masters: Conversations with Dylan, Lennon, Jagger, Townshend, Garcia, Bono, and Springsteen,” which features interviews with musicians Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen and Pete Townshend, Wenner was asked why he did not interview women or Black musicians.

Wenner, the hall’s co-founder, said his interviewees had to “meet a couple criteria, but it was just kind of my personal interest and love of them.” 

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

When pressed about if artists like Joni Mitchell are not articulate enough on an intellectual level, Wenner responded, “It’s not that they’re not creative genuineness, it’s not that they’re inarticulate, although, go have a deep conversation with Grace Slick or Janis Joplin.” 

“Please, be my guest,” Wenner said. “You know, Joni was not a philosopher of rock ‘n’roll. She didn’t, in my mind, meet that test.” 

“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,” Wenner continued.

Wenner appeared to recognize the backlash he could receive for such comments, telling The New York Times, “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.” 

“Which, I get it. I had the chance to do that,” Wenner continued. “Maybe I’m old-fashioned and I don’t give a [expletive] or whatever. I wish in retrospect I could have interviewed Marvin Gaye. Maybe he’d have been the guy. Maybe Otis Redding, had he lived, would have been the guy.”

Later Saturday, Wenner apologized for the remarks in a statement shared with The Hollywood Reporter.

“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 apologize wholeheartedly for those remarks.” 

Wenner said the interviews he conducted for his book were not meant to represent the “whole of music” but “reflect the high points” of his career and include interviews he “felt illustrated the breadth and experience in that career.” 

“I totally understand the inflammatory nature of badly chosen words and deeply apologize and accept the consequences,” he added in a statement. 

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

The Hill has reached out to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for further comment.

The Associated Press contributed.

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