LIVING COLOUR has weighed in on recent controversial comments by Rolling Stone magazine founder Jann Wenner about black and female artists.
In an interview with The New York Times interview, Wenner said he had not included any women in his upcoming book featuring interviews with legendary rock figures because “none of them were as articulate enough on this intellectual level.”
Defending the absence of black artists in the book, called “The Masters”, Wenner told The New York Times, “I suppose when you use a word as broad as ‘masters,’ the fault is using that word.”
“Maybe Marvin Gaye, or Curtis Mayfield?” the 77-year-old told the newspaper. “I mean, they just didn’t articulate at that level.”
Shortly after the interview was published, Wenner, who founded Rolling Stone in 1967 and served as its editor or editorial director until 2019, was removed from the board of directors the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.
Over the weekend, Wenner issued an apology for his statements, acknowledging that he “made comments that diminished the contributions, genius, and impact of Black and women artists” and explaining that the interviews in his book “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.”
Earlier today, LIVING COLOUR, considered to be the first black rock group to attract a large mainstream audience since SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE in the early 1970s, released the following statement via social media: “We, the members of LIVING COLOUR, would like to address Jann Wenner‘s recent apology for controversial statements made in support of his new book.
“The very idea of a book called ‘The Masters’, which blatantly omits the essential contributions of black, people of color and women to Rock & Pop Culture speaks to a much larger and more systemic problem.
“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.
“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 Woman artists that he chooses not to mention, are not worthy of the status of ‘Master’, smacks of sexist gatekeeping, and exclusionary behavior.
“Mr. Werner‘s apology only solidifies the idea. That his book is a reflection of his worldview suggests that it is narrow & small indeed”.
“The Masters” features interviews with Bob Dylan, Jerry Garcia, Mick Jagger, John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, Pete Townshend and U2‘s Bono — all of whom are white and male.
All but one member of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame board of directors reportedly voted to expel Wenner.