Jann Wenner ruined my weekend.
I cherish my weekends. It’s a time to recharge away from the rock world so I can face the following week. This weekend was going to be especially fun. My husband and I were going out for a friend’s birthday and a fun bonfire following the birthday dinner. This was a time to eat, drink, and be merry.
Instead, I had to think about the Rolling Stone/Rock and Roll Hall of Fame co-founder’s incredibly sexist and racist thoughts he shared in a new interview with The New York Times.
To recap: Wenner spoke with The New York Times to promote his new book, The Masters. The book is a collection of interviews Wenner conducted with seven rock subjects. Some of the interviews were archival, while some were new or previously unpublished. The seven subjects included Bono, Bob Dylan, Jerry Garcia, Mick Jagger, John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen and Pete Townshend. The book’s synopsis calls The Masters “a visit to the Mount Olympus of rock.”
Apparently, in Wenner’s eyes, the Mount Olympus of rock doesn’t contain any women or Black musicians.
New York Times reporter David Marchese pressed Wenner about this glaring observation, and Wenner’s response was truly wild. He said, in part, about the artist selection for his book, “The people 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 went on to namecheck the likes of Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield. However, he stuck to his “articulate” reasoning even with these beloved and respected music icons.
Not long after this interview was published online, it understandably and predictably was met with outrage. This then led to multiple updates that trickled out over the weekend. Among them was Wenner being quickly removed from the Board of Directors of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation.
Wenner then issued an apology to the media for his remarks. He said, in part, “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. ‘The Masters’ is a collection of interviews I’ve done over the years that seemed to me to best represent an idea of rock ‘n’ roll’s impact on my world; they were not meant to represent the whole of music and its diverse and important originators but to reflect the high points of my career and interviews I 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.”
My weekend was punctuated with every update on this story popping up on my phone. I became more and more annoyed at how Wenner’s hubris just continued to disturb my peace. Even as I pen this mild rant on a Monday morning, many thoughts continue to swirl in my head about this whole ordeal. In an attempt to get all of the vitriol out of my system, here are some of my lingering thoughts about Wenner’s New York Times interview.