Last night, Bob Dylan publicly expressed his support for disgraced Rolling Stone founder and former editor Jann Wenner, telling the audience at New York’s Beacon Theater that he wanted Wenner “back” in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Wenner, the founder and longtime main force behind the Hall of Fame, was removed from the Board in September following his comments in New York Times intelligence were widely deemed racist and sexist.
During an appearance on the Upper West Side last night, Dylan greeted Wenner before sharing his thoughts on the takedown.
“Okay, I’d like to say hello to Jann Wenner who’s at home,” Dylan said (listen to the recorded clip posted on the Dylan.FM podcast below). “Jann Wenner, I’m sure everyone has heard of him. Either way, he just got kicked out of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame – and we don’t think it was right. We’re trying to bring him back.”
Wenner, who remains a member of the Hall of Fame (he was installed in 2004), promoted his new collection of classic Rolling Stone interviews Masters when he was asked by TimesDavid Marchese why the seven questions and answers in this book all featured white men.
“People had to meet a few criteria,” Wenner said, “but it was simply because of my personal interest and love for them. As for the women, none of them were eloquent enough at this intellectual level. When Marchese challenged, Wenner continued: “Joni [Mitchell] he was not a rock’n’roll philosopher. In my opinion, she failed this test. Not because of her work or other interviews she has given.
Wenner continued: “Of the black artists… you know, Stevie Wonder, the genius, right? I suppose when you use a word as broad as “champions” it’s a mistake to use that word. Maybe Marvin Gaye or Curtis Mayfield? I mean, they just weren’t expressing themselves at that level.
Dylan was one of the musicians mentioned in Wenner’s book, along with, among others, Mick Jagger, John Lennon and Bono.
In response to the protests regarding Times interview, Wenner apologized, saying, “In my interview with New York Times I made comments that diminished the contributions, genius and influence of Black women artists, and for that I sincerely apologize.”
The apology did not change the minds of the remaining members of the Hall’s Board of Directors or reassure Bernie Taupin, Elton John’s songwriter, who received the Musical Excellence Award at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Brooklyn earlier this month.
In accepting the award, Taupin said, “I guess you could say my calling is a paradox, but either way, I’m honored to be included in the Class of 2023 along with a group of such deeply ‘eloquent’ women and outstanding ‘articulates’.” ”black artists along with all the other music greats who are here tonight.”
Listen to Dylan’s commentary below: