Rolling Stone magazine co-founder Jann Wenner was recently booted from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors for comments he made recently while promoting his new book, “The Masters.” The book features interviews with rock legends like Bob Dylan, Jerry Garcia, Mick Jagger, John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, Pete Townshend and U2’s Bono — all white males.
When asked why he didn’t include interviews with any women or musicians of color, Wenner said, “It’s not that they’re inarticulate, although, go have a deep conversation with Grace Slick or Janis Joplin. Please, be my guest. You know, Joni (Mitchell) was not a philosopher of rock ’n’ roll. She didn’t, in my mind, meet that test. Of black artists — you know, Stevie Wonder, genius, right? 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.”
Wenner doubled down on those comments, stating, “Maybe I should have gone and found one black and one woman artist to include here that didn’t measure up to that same historical standard, just to avert this kind of criticism.” The totally predictable backlash came quickly. Wenner “deeply” and “wholeheartedly” apologized for his remarks, and resigned himself to accept the consequences.
The Rock Hall, which Wenner also co-founded, issued a simple statement saying that Wenner had been removed from their board of directors. It’s not that Rolling Stone or the Rock Hall have a history of racism and misogyny; it is, however, sad to learn that the publisher of one of our most progressive publications to come out of the 1960s had these inherent beliefs.
This brings us to the Rock Hall and its plethora of slighted artists. The Rock Hall has a history of inducting a lot of artists who many don’t consider rock and roll. I don’t have a problem with this, because rock (to me) is a big tent, encompassing a lot of styles and influences. Country, R&B, hip hop, jazz, soul — all have played a part in rock history. That being said, there are some artists whose exclusion is mind-boggling. Here they are.
Joe Cocker — why the hell isn’t he in there while Abba is? America — mellow, yes — but so are James Taylor and Jackson Browne (who both certainly deserve to be there). Bachman-Turner Overdrive and the Guess Who — Randy Bachman gets slighted with two groups that deserve induction. Bad Company — unreal that they’re not in. Boston. Really?!? Emerson Lake & Palmer — the Hall has had a hard time with progressive rockers, but this slight needs to be rectified ASAP. Same goes for Kansas, King Crimson, and Jethro Tull. Dave Matthews Band — they were nominated in 2020, got the most popular fan votes, and were still passed over. MC5 — the influential Detroit rockers have been nominated six times and still passed over.
Also slighted: Peter Frampton. Huge career, classic songs, and the biggest live album of all time. The Monkees — sure, they were the Prefab Four, but they absolutely belong. Harry Nilsson — an egregious oversight. Ozzy Osbourne — he sold more albums as a solo artist than he did in Black Sabbath. Procol Harum — at least their song “Whiter Shade of Pale” was inducted into the Rock Hall’s Singles category. Edgar and Johnny Winter — the exclusion of the Winter brothers really pisses me off. And Steve Winwood hasn’t been inducted either.
The list goes on. Here are some more notable exclusions, in alphabetical order: Bryan Adams. Bad Company. B-52s. Blue Oyster Cult. Spencer Davis Group. Rick Derringer. Devo. Foreigner. J. Geils Band. Grand Funk Railroad. Sammy Hagar (and his old band Montrose). Billy Idol. Iron Maiden. James Gang (and its most illustrious member, Joe Walsh). Huey Lewis & the News. Manfred Mann’s Earth Band. Marshall Tucker Band. Meat Loaf. Megadeth. Molly Hatchet. Motley Crue. Motorhead. Mott the Hoople. Mountain. Nazareth. Oasis. The Outlaws. Pantera. REO Speedwagon. Scorpions. Smashing Pumpkins. Soundgarden. Steppenwolf. Stone Temple Pilots. Stray Cats. Styx. Supertramp. Ten Years After. Thin Lizzy. 38 Special. Three Dog Night. Uriah Heep. War. Last (and certainly not least) is Warren Zevon.
Perhaps now that Wenner and his backward views are out, the Rock Hall might induct some very worthy nominees. I’m not holding my breath…
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