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RAT Rock News

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 Some of the interviews were archival, while some were new or previously unpublished.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.

RELATED: Bruce Springsteen Still Annoyed with 'Rolling Stone' Founder Jann Wenner for This Reason

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.

  • He let artists edit their interviews?

    Marchese asks Wenner during his interview, “In the introduction to the Bono interview in ‘The Masters,’ you mentioned that he edited and reviewed the transcript. What does editing mean in that context?”

    Wenner says, “Looking for grammatical stuff, usage stuff; changing a word here and there, if he’d want to use a different word that’s more precise; maybe something was too intimate and he decides he doesn’t want to put it on the public record.”

    Wenner then notes that he let John Lennon do the same in his infamous 1970 Rolling Stone interview, which is featured in The Masters.

    This tidbit is not nearly getting enough attention. It all just really tarnishes much of the legacy of Rolling Stone. Did Wenner ever really care about journalistic integrity, or was this all really just one seemingly insecure man’s way of making friends with rock stars?

    Jann S. Wenner, Mick Jagger and Ahmet Ertegun at the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame 19th Annual Induction Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel March 15, 2004 in New York City.

    Jann S. Wenner, Mick Jagger and Ahmet Ertegun at the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame 19th Annual Induction Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel March 15, 2004 in New York City.

  • How 'Rolling Stone' even became a reality.

    Never forget that Rolling Stone would likely never exist if it weren’t for Jann Wenner’s ex-wife, Jane Schindelheim. David Weir wrote in a 1999 piece for Salon, ” … Most of the money for the risky venture came from the family of his [then] wife, Jane Schindelheim Wenner, a dark-haired, fine-boned beauty who was rarely seen at the magazine, but whose presence was always felt in its formative years.”

    In other words: Women aren’t “intellectual” enough for Jann, but he has no problem taking money from their families, if it means funding his own projects.

  • What are the subjects of 'The Masters' thinking right now?

    All of the living subjects of The Masters — Bono, Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen and Pete Townshend — should be asked to weigh in on Wenner’s comments and whether they now regret signing off on being involved in his book. Better yet, some journalists should be able to interview all of them and not allow any of them to edit their own interviews. This doesn’t really solve anything, but it certainly would be fun.

    Jann Wenner and Pete Townshend attend a book signing at Barnes & Noble Union Square on October 9, 2012 in New York City.

    Jann Wenner and Pete Townshend attend a book signing at Barnes & Noble Union Square on October 9, 2012 in New York City.

  • Jon Landau: WTF?!

    According to journalist Tim Sommer, the only person who didn’t vote for Wenner’s ouster from the Board of Directors of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame was Jon Landau, Bruce Springsteen’s longtime manager and former Rolling Stone writer. Sommer went on to write, “As much as I despise the superficial, ignorant, arrogant, mediocrity-applauding, metal-hating clubby, chubby cabal that is, was, and always will be The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I admire the loyalty of Jon Landau in standing by his Lord, Master, and Creator in his darkest hour. Really. I actually mean that.”

    While I personally doubt Sommer’s claim of sincerity, Landau’s willingness to go full Tammy Wynette is truly something else. Then again, Landau is the same guy who panned The Jimi Hendrix Experience's 1967 album Are You Experienced, so clearly his judgment can be questionable at times.

    UPDATE: In a New York Times article published on September 19, Landau said in a statement, “Jann’s statements were indefensible and counter to all the hall stands for. 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.” (Sure, Jan…or perhaps, in this case, “Sure, Jann.”)

  • Guess we have an idea of why the Rock Hall lacks women artists?

    Many, myself included, have written at length about the lack of women inductees in the Rock Hall. We all just assumed the whole thing was a “boys’ club,” but it’s nice to feel this much vindication on such a grand scale.

    Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Museum at night.

    Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Museum at night.

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