Jann Wenner has received a lot of criticism for his recent racist and sexist remarks in a The New York Times interview about Black and women musicians. However, Living Colour’s joint statement in response to the Rolling Stone co-founder succinctly points out the systemic issue of Wenner’s point of view.
The band says, in part, “His ‘New York Times’ interview statement that African American and female artists are not ‘articulate’ enough to express themselves about their own work is absurd on its face. For someone who has chronicled the musical landscape for over 50 years, it is an insult to those of us who sit at the feet of these overlooked geniuses.”
Living Colour adds, “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 Women artists that he chooses not to mention, are not worthy of the status of ‘Master,’ smacks of sexist gatekeeping and exclusionary behavior.”
The band further drives home their point by concluding, “Mr. Wenner’s apology only solidifies the idea. That his book is a reflection of his worldview suggests that it is narrow & small indeed.”
As Living Colour points out, Wenner’s apology makes his musical worldview clear as day. He said, in part, ” … ‘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.”
Wenner saw swift action against his remarks. He was removed from the Board of Directors of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation. Additionally, Rolling Stone issued a statement condemning Wenner’s remarks and distancing itself from its co-founder.
Our statement on Jann Wenner's recent comments. pic.twitter.com/dL7lMSTP3k— Rolling Stone (@RollingStone) September 18, 2023