Jann Wenner’s Rock Hall Ousting Took Only 20 Minutes
The revelation comes via The New York Times, who broke down the behind-the-scenes details of Wenner’s ousting.
In a conversation published on Sept. 15, Wenner claimed that female and Black artists were not worthy of being interviewed for his book, Masters.
“Insofar as the women, just none of them were as articulate enough on this intellectual level,” the Rolling Stone founder explained. “You know, 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 a chance to do that. Maybe I’m old-fashioned and I don’t give a [expletive] or whatever.”
These inflammatory comments, and others like them, immediately drew outrage from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s braintrust. Wenner co-founded the institution in 1983 and served as its chairman up until 2020. He remained on the board of the directors, until an emergency vote was called on Sept. 16.
Why Did the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Remove Jann Wenner?
In an email to board members prior to the vote, Wenner expressed remorse.
“I understand how inflammatory these words appear,” he wrote, “but it is not how I feel in my heart nor have acted in all my years founding and leading the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.”
Still, that didn’t sway many opinions.
“Your words run the risk of undermining the very institution you helped build by propagating a narrative that isn’t just narrow but also exclusionary,” Troy Carter, a former Spotify executive, declared in an email to the board that was obtained by The Times.
The conference call and vote to remove Wenner reportedly lasted just 20 minutes. Though the exact names of those who took part in the decision have not been released, it is known that only two people voted to keep him in his position: Wenner himself and Jon Landau, Bruce Springsteen’s manager (and a former Rolling Stone writer).
“Jann’s statements were indefensible and counter to all the hall stands for,” Landau said via statement after Wenner’s eviction from the board was official. “It became clear that the vote to remove him from the board would be justifiably and correctly overwhelming. My vote was intended as a gesture in acknowledgment of all that he had done to create the hall in the first place.”
What Are Rock Stars Saying About Jann Wenner?
Since Wenner’s initial interview was published, many notable musicians have stepped forward to denounce his comments.
In a post to social media, Living Colour noted that Wenner’s comments were “an insult to those of us who sit at the feet of these overlooked geniuses. To hear that he believes Stevie Wonder isn’t articulate enough to express his thoughts on any given subject is quite frankly, insulting. To hear that Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell, Tina Turner, or any of the many Woman artists that he chooses not to mention, are not worthy of the status of ‘Master,’ smacks of sexist gatekeeping, and exclusionary behavior.”
Singer-songwriter Janis Ian expressed similar dismay.
The Grammy-winning artist added that she’d long heard rumors of Wenner’s misogyny. “Money and being allowed to hang with 'the boys' were the important things, I suppose."