Living Colour Calls Out Jann Wenner Over His Controversial Remarks
Days after his ousting from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors, Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner remains the target of outrage after recent comments he made pretty much cut down the contributions of every Black and female musician, past and present.
Having said that neither group of artists “were articulate enough on this intellectual level” to be included in his poorly titled book The Masters: Conversations with Dylan, Lennon, Jagger, Townshend, Garcia, Bono, and Springsteen, artists from all walks of life have since condemned Wenner’s notion entirely. Last night, the band Living Colour joined the conversation by posting a statement of their own on 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.”
How’s that for articulate, Jann?
As a band comprised of all Black members, Living Colour have long written music about equality and the African-American experience. Sure, they wrote “Cult of Personality,” but you seriously should check out the rest of their discography. Shit rules.
For those that don’t entirely remember, this all kicked off when Wenner was interviewed in the New York Times promoting his book. When asked why the book didn’t feature any women, he said:
“Insofar as the women, just none of them were as articulate enough on this intellectual level. Joni [Mitchell] 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… 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.”
Following the nearly immediate backlash, Wenner issued the following statement as an apology:
“In my interview with The New York Times, I made comments that diminished the contributions, genius, and impact of Black and women artists and I apologize wholeheartedly for those remarks. The Masters is a collection of interviews I’ve done over the years that seemed to me to best represent an idea of rock ‘n’ roll’s impact on my world; they 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. They don’t reflect my appreciation and admiration for myriad totemic, world-changing artists whose music and ideas I revere and will celebrate and promote as long as I live. I totally understand the inflammatory nature of badly chosen words and deeply apologize and accept the consequences.”