Controversial decisions often spark contentious debates in the music industry, and the recent move by Jann Wenner, the co-founder of the iconic Rolling Stone magazine, is no exception. Wenner's deliberate exclusion of Black and female artists from his freshly minted book, "The Masters," which chronicles rock star interviews, has struck a discordant note with many.
Helen Brown, a respected voice in music journalism, commented on the matter, suggesting that Wenner's decision hardly comes as a shock. Wenner, according to Brown, has long embodied the stereotype of the "egotistical rock fanboy," representing the often critiqued "pale, male, and stale" faction of rock journalism.
Given this backdrop, Wenner's choices, although contentious, fit a longstanding pattern.
Wenner Defends Artist Exclusions
Last week, The New York Times released an interview wherein Wenner defended his decision. While explaining his choices, he stated, “It’s not that they’re inarticulate,” referring to legendary artists like Grace Slick, Janis Joplin, and Joni Mitchell.
He went on to diminish Mitchell's contributions, saying, “Joni was not a philosopher of rock’n’roll. She didn’t, in my mind, meet that test”. Further stirring controversy, Wenner confessed his regret over not including Black artists in the compilation.
However, he opined that they "just didn’t articulate at that level." This has raised eyebrows, especially considering his inclusion of U2's Bono, who was recently criticized for a poorly received poem about the war in Ukraine, labeled by some as "the worst poem ever written." The music community and readers alike are questioning the motives behind Wenner's selective representation.
By sidelining voices from entire communities, many believe that he is presenting a skewed, narrow vision of rock and roll, sidelining the very essence of the genre's diverse roots and rich tapestry. As the book hits the shelves, the debate rages on about the authentic portrayal of rock'n'roll's true "masters." With SEO-focused discussions like these making headlines, it's evident that the world of rock journalism remains as vibrant and contested as ever.