Bob Dylan went public with his support for disgraced Rolling Stone founder and ex-editor Jann Wenner last night, telling an audience at New York City’s Beacon Theatre that he wants Wenner “back in” the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Wenner, a founder and longtime major force behind the Hall of Fame, was voted off the Board of Directors in September after his comments in a New York Times interview were widely deemed racist and sexist.
During last night’s show at the Upper West Side venue, Dylan gave a shout-out to Wenner before expressing his thoughts on the ouster.
“All right, l’d like to say hello to Jann Wenner, who’s in the house,” Dylan said (listen to a recorded clip posted on the Dylan.FM Podcast below). “Jann Wenner, surely everybody’s heard of him. Anyway, he just got booted out of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame – and we don’t think that’s right. We’re trying to get him back in.”
Wenner, who remains a Hall of Fame inductee (he was installed in 2004), was promoting his new collection of classic Rolling Stone interviews The Masters when he was asked by The Times‘ David Marchese why the book’s seven Q&As all featured white men.
“The people had to meet a couple criteria,” Wenner said, “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.” When challenged by Marchese, Wenner continued, “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.”
Wenner went on, “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.”
Dylan was one of the musicians included in Wenner’s book, along with, among others, Mick Jagger, John Lennon and Bono.
In response to the outcry over the Times interview, Wenner apologized, saying, “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 apology did not change the collective mind of his fellow members on the Hall’s Board of Directors, nor did it do anything to appease Elton John lyricist Bernie Taupin, who received a Musical Excellence Award at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Brooklyn earlier this month.
Accepting the award, Taupin said, “I guess you could say my being inducted is a paradox, perhaps, but either way, I’m honored to be in the class of 2023 alongside a group of such profoundly ‘articulate’ women and outstanding ‘articulate’ Black artists along with all of the other music masters here tonight.”
Listen to Dylan’s comment below:
“All right, like to say hello to Jann Wenner who’s in the house. Jann Wenner, surely everybody’s heard of him.
Anyway, he just got booted out of the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame – and we don’t think that’s right, we’re trying to get him back in.”
— Bob Dylan 11/16/23 pic.twitter.com/Vkgt8klzYS
— Dylan.FM Podcast (@TheFM_Dylan) November 17, 2023
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