Bob Dylan voiced his support for Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner at a show in New York, amid a series of controversies surrounding the writer.
Wenner was in attendance at the gig on Thursday (November 16) and Dylan, who doesn’t frequently speak between songs at his shows, took a moment to shout him out towards the end of the performance.
“All right, l’d like to say hello to Jann Wenner, who’s in the house. Jann Wenner, surely everybody’s heard of him,” Dylan said.
“Anyway, he just got booted out of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame – and we don’t think that’s right. We’re trying to get him back in.”
The pair’s longstanding relationship dates back to 1969, when Wenner first interviewed the songwriter for Rolling Stone.
“All right, like to say hello to Jann Wenner who’s in the house. Jann Wenner, surely everybody’s heard of him.
Anyway, he just got booted out of the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame – and we don’t think that’s right, we’re trying to get him back in.”
— Bob Dylan 11/16/23 pic.twitter.com/Vkgt8klzYS
— Dylan.FM Podcast (@TheFM_Dylan) November 17, 2023
Dylan was referencing Wenner’s recent removal from the board of the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, which he co-founded, following controversial remarks he made in an interview concerning his recent book The Masters.
In the book, Wenner asks questions of seven “philosophers of rock”, one of which is Dylan. The others are Bono, the late Jerry Garcia, Mick Jagger, the late John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, and Pete Townshend.
When asked in the interview why they were no women or people of colour interviewed for the book, Wenner said they are apparently not “intellectual enough”, for which he was widely criticised.
He later issued an apology, saying: “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.”
He added: “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 apologise and accept the consequences.”
Rolling Stone, which Wenner stopped working for in 2019, also issued a public statement insisting that his personal views do not reflect those of the company.
“Jann Wenner’s recent statements to the New York Times do not represent the values and practices of today’s Rolling Stone,” the statement on X read.
“Jann Wenner has not been directly involved in our operations since 2019. Our purpose, especially since his departure, has been to tell stories that reflect the diversity of voices and experiences that shape our world,” it added. “At Rolling Stone’s core is the understanding that music above all can bring us together, not divide us.”
“I guess you could say my being inducted is a paradox, perhaps, but either way, I’m honored to be in the class of 2023 alongside a group of such profoundly ‘articulate’ women and outstanding ‘articulate’ Black artists along with all of the other music masters here tonight,” he said.