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Vernon Reid of Living Colour Blasts ‘Rolling Stone’s’ Jann Wenner

Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone infamy is facing heat for his bigoted comments—rhetoric which Vernon Reid of Living Colour calls “not surprising”.

On Monday, the guitarist from the legendary Black rock group expressed his views on the Rolling Stone co-founder’s disparaging comments about Black and female musicians in an interview with TMZ. “Well, I’m actually a little grateful he said the quiet part out loud,” Reid began. “He basically told us about his position. A lot of it is about class. A lot of it is about access. He’s talking about his friends, and that’s okay.”

He continued: “But when you call musicians “The Masters” in this certain context and you leave out a Stevie Wonder, then the questions have to be raised. How do you say that when Joni Mitchell is still alive? How do you say that with Chrissie Hynde? How do you not engage with Meshell Ndegeocello, who’s built one of the most impressive bodies of work in the last 20 to 30 years?”

“It’s staggering, but kind of not surprising. It’s always been a part of the hierarchical, top-down structure of what is considered worthy of attention,” Reid concluded. When asked if white legends such as Bono or Bruce Springsteen should speak out, he was direct. “Let it be real. If this upsets them, let them talk about it, but don’t be performative,” he said.

Wenner came under fire after the comments, which were made in a New York Times interview concerning his book of Rolling Stone interviews The Masters, were revealed. When asked why he didn’t have interviews with Black musicians and women musicians, he responded: “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 would follow that up by speculating that he should’ve included one of those interviews to avoid criticism. “Maybe I’m old-fashioned and I don’t give a (expletive) or whatever.”

The backlash led to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame issuing a statement on Sunday (September 17th) saying “Jann Wenner has been removed from the board of directors of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation.” Wenner has since issued an apology to CNN, saying “I totally understand the inflammatory nature of badly chosen words and deeply apologize and accept the consequences.”

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