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Jann Wenner Says Black, Female Musicians Not “Articulate” Enough for New Book – The Hollywood Reporter



Jann Wenner, the publishing icon who co-founded Rolling Stone and led the journal for 5 a long time, has a brand new guide out this month titled The Masters. Within the Little Brown and Firm launch, Wenner revisits prolonged interviews carried out throughout his Rolling Stone days with a collection of rock titans together with Bono, Bob Dylan, Jerry Garcia, Mick Jagger, John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen and Pete Townshend.

To advertise The Grasps, Wenner sat for a prolonged interview of his personal with The New York Occasions’ David Marchese (a onetime on-line editor at Rolling Stone), throughout which he opened up on how he zeroed in on these explicit rockers for the guide, a lot of whom are or had been shut pals. The guide doesn’t embrace any interviews with Black or feminine musicians, and Wenner’s rationalization as to why is now catching warmth on-line.

Marchese requested Wenner to additional clarify the choice course of, which is addressed within the guide’s introduction the place he writes that performers of colour and feminine performers will not be in his zeitgeist. “When I was referring to the zeitgeist, I was referring to Black performers, not to the female performers, OK? Just to get that accurate. The selection was not a deliberate selection. It was kind of intuitive over the years; it just fell together that way. 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,” he mentioned.

Marchese pushed again on that assertion by citing Joni Mitchell. “It’s not that they’re not creative geniuses. It’s not that they’re inarticulate, although, go have a deep conversation with Grace Slick or Janis Joplin. Please, be my guest. You know, Joni 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. The people I interviewed were the kind of philosophers of rock,” mentioned Wenner. “Of Black artists — you know, Stevie Wonder, genius, right? 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.”

Wenner mentioned he based mostly that assertion on instinct, studying interviews and listening to music. “I mean, look at what Pete Townshend was writing about, or Jagger, or any of them. They were deep things about a particular generation, a particular spirit and a particular attitude about rock ’n’ roll. Not that the others weren’t, but these were the ones that could really articulate it.”

He mentioned that he may have reconsidered his place and “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. I wish in retrospect I could have interviewed Marvin Gaye. Maybe he’d have been the guy. Maybe Otis Redding, had he lived, would have been the guy.”

Not lengthy after the story was revealed this morning, many readers (together with many journalists) took to X, previously referred to as Twitter, to criticize Wenner’s stance.

Wenner and Marchese additionally had an alternate in regards to the former’s admission that he allowed his topics to edit the transcripts of their interviews, an unethical observe in journalism. Wenner defended the observe, saying that his interviews are “meant to be sympathetic” and revelatory discussions with artists, not politicians or enterprise executives.

“Look, nothing was ever substantively changed from the original interviews. These are all minor changes that really get to accuracy and readability and all that stuff. Secondly, these were not meant to be confrontational interviews. They were always meant to be cooperative interviews,” Wenner mentioned. “These are profiles in a way. If I have to trade the level of trust that is necessary to get this kind of interview, to let people put a few things off the record, nothing of any value, maybe something about their kids or their family or not wanting to put down somebody.”

Talking of placing down others, Wenner mentioned he apologized to Jagger following a New York Occasions profile final 12 months throughout which he advised Maureen Dowd that the Rolling Stones rockers appear to be Lord of the Rings characters. “He couldn’t believe I had said that,” Wenner mentioned of Jagger. “I had to say, ‘Look, I’m so sorry. I was just, in the pursuit of publicity, trying to be super clever and please forgive me.’ Of course, he did. But it was one of those careless remarks. A friend shouldn’t say that kind of thing. You don’t want to read it in Maureen Dowd’s thing in The New York Times. Oh, Mick Jagger looks like he’s Gandalf the wizard. He was absolutely right and I felt terrible.”

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