Jann Wenner’s Book “The Masters” Sales Is A Flop
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Jann Wenner, known for his controversial history, has seen his new book, The Masters, struggle to gain sales momentum following a disastrous interview with The New York Times.
In his recently released book, Wenner compiles interviews he conducted with seven iconic figures in rock ‘n’ roll: Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Jerry Garcia, Pete Townshend, Bono, and Bruce Springsteen. However, during an interview with The New York Times to promote the book, Wenner faced criticism for featuring exclusively white male artists, suggesting that females and artists of color couldn’t express themselves at the same intellectual level as their male counterparts.
The interview had a quick and negative aftereffect. Wenner was promptly removed from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s board of directors and faced widespread condemnation on social media. Almost two weeks later, The Masters sits at a disappointing rank of 7,594 on Amazon’s book sales list as of Thursday morning.
Jann Wenner’s Statements in The New York Times Interview
When asked why he included no female or Black artists in The Masters, Wenner defended his choices by stating:
“The selection was not a deliberate selection. It was kind of intuitive over the years; it just fell together that way. The people had to meet a couple criteria, but it was just kind of my personal interest and love of them. Insofar as the women, just none of them were as articulate enough on this intellectual level.”
When further questioned by interviewer David Marchese, Wenner dug himself into a deeper hole, saying:
“It’s not that they’re not creative geniuses. 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. Not by her work, not by other interviews she did. The people I interviewed were the kind of philosophers of rock.”
Wenner showed a similar dismissiveness toward musicians of color, saying:
“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. You know, just for public relations sake, 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.”
Fallout from Wenner’s New York Times Interview
Following the public revelation of Wenner’s comments, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, which he co-founded, swiftly removed him from its board of directors, issuing a concise statement:
“Jann Wenner has been removed from the board of directors of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation.”
The comments Wenner made drew outright criticism from some artists. Among them was chart-topping singer-songwriter Janis Ian, who posted on Facebook:
“Gee, guess I was never articulate enough for Jann. Guess [Joan] Baez wasn’t. Certainly, Liz Phair, Dolly Parton have no way with words.”
Even conservative rocker Ted Nugent, known for his right-wing views and conspiracy theories, condemned Wenner for what he described as “racist and misogynistic attacks that said that Black and female artists are not articulate enough to reference in his book about rock ‘n’ roll history, which is so clearly biased and so clearly racist and so clearly misogynistic. And those are the things that he has always accused me of.”
Wenner apologized for his remarks in the wake of the backlash, saying 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.”