During his concert last night at New York’s Beacon Theatre, Bob Dylan mentioned Jann Wenner’s recent ouster from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation’s board of directors. “All right, like to say hello to Jann Wenner who’s in the house. Jann Wenner, surely everybody’s heard of him,” Dylan said, according to audio captured from the show. “Anyway, he just got booted out of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and we don’t think that’s right; we’re trying to get him back in.”
Pitchfork reached out to a representative for Dylan to ask for context on his remarks, as the musician is known to banter playfully during shows. For example, he said at a concert not long ago that the Sylvester Stallone action movie Rambo: Last Blood “should’ve won an Academy Award.” In addition, one apparent attendee of the New York show said that Dylan delivered his Wenner remarks “with a big ole grin” on his face. Dylan’s representative had no further context or comment to share.
Jann Wenner helped co-found the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in the 1980s. He stepped down as the chairman of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation in 2020, and he was removed from the foundation’s board of directors this past September after he made comments in a New York Times interview that were widely seen as sexist and racist.
Wenner spoke with The Times’ David Marchese about his new book The Masters: Conversations With Dylan, Lennon, Jagger, Townshend, Garcia, Bono, and Springsteen. As the title suggests, Wenner interviewed Bob Dylan and others for his book, and he said it was an “intuitive” choice to speak exclusively with white men. “Insofar as the women,” Wenner continued, “just none of them were as articulate enough on this intellectual level.” He went on to say that Black artists like Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and Curtis Mayfield “just didn’t articulate at that level” to be deemed “masters.”
Bob Dylan was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. He is still on tour in support of 2020’s Rough and Rowdy Ways.