Jann Wenner, the co-founder of Rolling Stone magazine, has been removed from the board of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, which he also helped found, a day after an interview with him was published in DailyExpertNews in which he made comments that were widely criticized as sexist and racist.
The foundation — which inducts artists into the Hall of Fame and was the organization behind the creation of the affiliated museum in Cleveland — made the announcement in a brief statement released Saturday.
“Jann Wenner has been removed from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation Board of Directors,” the statement said. Joel Peresman, the foundation’s president and CEO, declined to comment further when reached by phone.
But Mr. Wenner’s resignation comes after an interview with The Times, published Friday and timed to the publication of his new book, called “The Masters,” which chronicles his decades of interviews with rock legends such as Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen and Bono – all white and male.
In the interview, David Marchese of The Times asked Mr. Wenner, 77, why the book did not include women or people of color.
Of women, Mr. Wenner said, “None of them were articulate enough at this intellectual level,” noting that Joni Mitchell “was not a rock ‘n’ roll philosopher.”
His answer about artists of color was less direct. “From black artists – you know, Stevie Wonder, genius, right?” he said. “I suppose when you use a word as broad as ‘masters,’ the error lies in the use of that word. Maybe Marvin Gaye or Curtis Mayfield? I mean, they just didn’t articulate at that level.
Mr. Wenner’s comments provoked an immediate backlash, ridiculing his quotes on social media and exposing previous criticism of Rolling Stone’s coverage of female artists under Mr. Wenner. Joe Hagan, who in 2017 wrote a fiercely critical biography of Mr. Wenner, “Sticky Fingers,” quoted a comment by feminist critic Ellen Willis, who wrote the magazine in 1970 “cruelly anti-woman.”
Mr. Wenner did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday evening.
Mr. Wenner founded Rolling Stone in 1967 with music critic Ralph J. Gleason and turned it into the preeminent music magazine of its time, with in-depth coverage of rock music as well as politics and current events. Much of it was written by stars of the “new journalism” movement of the 1960s and 1970s, such as Hunter S. Thompson. Mr. Gleason died in 1975.
Mr. Wenner sold the magazine in a series of transactions completed in 2020, and he officially left in 2019. Last year, he published a memoir, “Like a Rolling Stone.”
Mr. Wenner was also part of a group of music and media executives who founded the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation in 1983 and inducted its first class in 1986; the affiliated museum, in Cleveland, opened in 1995. Mr. Wenner himself was inducted as a nonperformer in 2004.
The Rock Hall has been criticized for the relatively few women and minority artists it has inducted over the years. According to one scientist, in 2019, only 7.7 percent of the people in the room were women. But some critics have welcomed the recent changes, and the latest crop of candidates include Kate Bush, Sheryl Crow and Missy Elliott, along with George Michael, Willie Nelson, Rage Against the Machine and the Spinners.