Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Scandal Result: Jann Wenner Book “The Masters” DOA with Just 800 Copies Sold After Insulting Female, Black Artists

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The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame broke ground yesterday in Cleveland for a new wing.

Plenty of celebrities and music stars were there except for one: co-founder Jann Wenner.

Wenner was removed from the Rock Hall board of directors last month after giving an interview in the New York Times that destroyed his legacy.

Promoting his new book, “The Masters,” Wenner declared that no female or Black artist was worthy of being included in the mix. He said they were “inarticulate.”

The result is that the book — which includes interviews with Bono, Bruce Springsteen and only white men — is DOA, dead on arrival.

According to Circana BookScan, “The Masters” sold just 800 copies in its first week of publication. It has fallen below number 20,000 on amazon.com. The 800 buyers could have been people who just bought the book to use for target shooting.

Little Brown — even if they had planned a small first run ever — is left holding the bag on this one. Whatever advance Wenner got will never be paid back.

In the Times — just three weeks ago — David Marchese asked Wenner:

In the introduction, you acknowledge that performers of color and women performers are just not in your zeitgeist. Which to my mind is not plausible for Jann Wenner. Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Nicks, Stevie Wonder, the list keeps going — not in your zeitgeist? What do you think is the deeper explanation for why you interviewed the subjects you interviewed and not other subjects?

Wenner responded:

When I was referring to the zeitgeist, I was referring to Black performers, not to the female performers, OK? Just to get that accurate. 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.

He added:

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 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.

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.

A furor followed. Not only did the Rock Hall oust Wenner but his own magazine, Rolling Stone, distanced themselves from him with a statement signed by his son, Gus Wenner.

Since then Jann Wenner has tried to explain his comments but the damage was done.

The people he missed in this book: Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Gamble and Huff, Joni Mitchell. Carole King, Valerie Simpson, Carly Simon, and so on, not to mention James Brown and Janis Joplin. The latter two Wenner never bothered with when they were alive, so it’s too late now.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedmanhttps://www.showbiz411.com
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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