Bob Dylan went public with his support for disgraced Rolling Stone founder and former editor Jann Wenner last night, telling the audience at New York’s Beacon Theater that he wants Wenner “back” in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Wenner, the founder and longtime force behind the Hall of Fame, was eliminated from the Board of Directors in September following his comments in a New York Times interview were widely considered racist and sexist.
During last night’s Upper West Side show, Dylan gave a shoutout to Wenner before expressing his thoughts on the firing.
“Alright, I’d like to say hello to Jann Wenner, who’s at home,” Dylan said (listen to a recorded clip posted on the Dylan.FM Podcast below). “Jann Wenner, certainly 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 that’s right. We are trying to bring him back.”
Wenner, who remains a Hall of Famer (he was inducted in 2004), was promoting his new collection of classic Rolling Stone interviews The Masters when he was questioned by The times‘ David Marchese why all seven questions and answers in the book featured white men.
“People had to meet some criteria,” Wenner said, “but it was just my personal interest and love for them. As far as women were concerned, none of them were articulate enough at this intellectual level.” When challenged by Marchese, Wenner continued: “Joni [Mitchell] He wasn’t a rock ‘n’ roll philosopher. In my opinion, she did not pass that test. Neither for her work, nor for other interviews she gave.”
Wenner continued, “Of the black artists — you know, Stevie Wonder, genius, right? I suppose when you use a word as broad as “masters,” the mistake is using that word. Maybe Marvin Gaye or Curtis Mayfield? I mean, they just haven’t articulated themselves 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 about 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 female artists, and I sincerely apologize for those comments.”
The apology did not change the collective opinion of his colleagues on the Hall’s Board of Trustees, nor did it do anything to appease Elton John lyricist Bernie Taupin, who received the Musical Excellence Award at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s induction ceremony. Fame in Brooklyn. earlier this month.
Upon accepting the award, Taupin said, “I guess you could say my induction is a paradox, perhaps, but either way, I’m honored to be in the Class of 2023 alongside a group of such deeply ‘articulate’ and exceptional women. ‘articulate’ black artists along with all the other masters of music here tonight.
Listen to Dylan’s commentary below: