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Jann Wenner blasted for comments about snubbing women, Black artists in new book ‘The Masters’

Little, Brown and Company

Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner is being blasted over comments he made that some are deeming racist and sexist.

Wenner is releasing a new book, The Masters, on September 26, featuring interviews with seven rock stars —Bob DylanJohn LennonMick JaggerPete TownshendJerry GarciaBono and Bruce Springsteen. Notably, all of them are male — and none are people of color. In the book’s intro he explains there are no interviews with Black artists because they’re not part of his “zeitgeist,” something The New York Times found hard to believe.

The paper asked Wenner to clarify his comments; he defended himself, noting the artists featured in the book weren’t a “deliberate selection,” saying it just “fell together.”

“The people had to meet a couple criteria, but it was just kind of my personal interest and love of them,” he said. “Insofar as the women, just none of them were as articulate enough on this intellectual level.” He argued Joni Mitchell “was not a philosopher of rock ‘n’ roll.”

“She didn’t, in my mind, meet that test. Not by her work, not by other interviews she did,” he said. “The people I interviewed were the kind of philosophers of rock.”

As for Black artists, Wenner acknowledged Stevie Wonder’s genius, but noted, “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.” 

“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,” he said. “Maybe I’m old-fashioned and I don’t give a [expletive] or whatever.”

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