Jann Wenner -- who helped launch RS Magazine way back in 1967 -- did an interview with the NYT this week in which he talks about who he interviewed for his forthcoming offering, "The Masters," which contains wide-ranging sit-downs with 7 rock and roll gods.
That includes Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, Bono, Jerry Garcia and Pete Townsend ... all of whom, as the NYT journo noted, are white and male.
Jann Wenner, the co-founder of Rolling Stone magazine, has left behind a complex legacy. In an interview, our reporter asked him about why he chose only white men for his book on rock’s “masters,” his own and his magazine’s possible missteps, and more. https://t.co/fwx0TIsOCmpic.twitter.com/cZ3tktTsI4
The Q: "There are seven subjects in the new book; seven white guys. In the introduction, you acknowledge that performers of color and women performers are just not in your zeitgeist. Which to my mind is not plausible for Jann Wenner. Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Nicks, Stevie Wonder, the list keeps going ... What do you think is the deeper explanation for why you interviewed the subjects you interviewed and not other subjects?
Wenner's answer is telling. He says, "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."
He adds, "Insofar as the women, just none of them were as articulate enough on this intellectual level." The reporter pushes back, incredulously asking if he really doesn't think Joni Mitchell was articulate enough to talk music on an intellectual level.
Wenner responded, "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."
He then said this about Black artists ... "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."