Paper covers rock, but it can also buy your way into it. As revealed in Jann Wenner’s new course correct of a memoir, Like a Rolling Stone, the music-magazine demiurge and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame co-founder appears to harbor some anger about Irving Azoff getting inducted into the Hall in 2020, the year after Wenner retired as chairman. While Wenner doesn’t directly use Azoff’s name, his timeline and descriptors don’t make any attempts to be coy. (We’ve reached out to both Wenner and Azoff for comment and will update when we hear back.)
Wenner writes that this vexation occurred after entertainment exec John Sykes, an “old friend” and fellow music fanatic, took over the role of the Hall’s chairman in late 2019, which allowed Sykes to guide the selection of the 2020 class. Along with the induction of established performers such as the Doobie Brothers, Nine Inch Nails, and Whitney Houston, Azoff was the recipient of the Ahmet Ertegun Award for industry professionals that year, with the Hall christening him “the ultimate rock manager.” Wenner likens the induction to an unworthy sneak attack:
My only worry was the pressure to compromise the integrity of the nominating and voting. I should have known better; I should have played the game better, seen people a little more cynically than my nature allowed. As soon as I resigned, I was told that one of the business executives on the board was going to be inducted. I had not heard of a single contribution this individual had made to the creative side of music, which was the explicit criterion. But he had accumulated influence and wealth. It was done behind my back. That was fast.
Azoff, perhaps best known for managing the Eagles, is currently the chairman of his family-run Full Stop Management and Global Music Rights. Prior to that, he was the chairman and CEO of your most-loathed concert provider, Ticketmaster Entertainment, as well as the chairman of Live Nation Entertainment. He is very, very rich and, indeed, had been a Rock Hall board member for several years prior to his induction. That year’s other Ahmet Ertegun Award recipient, the producer and critic Jon Landau, is written about quite warmly by Wenner throughout his memoir; they had been peers and collaborators since the 1960s. “He had helped me put together Rolling Stone when he was a college kid,” Wenner reminisced, “and had been my longtime éminence grise and counselor on the Hall of Fame as well.”
For performers who have yet to be inducted into the Rock Hall, Wenner admits that Warren Zevon has been frequently brought up by others as a glaring oversight. Recently, Jackson Browne told him, “I owed it to him to put Warren Zevon into the Hall of Fame,” a statement Vulture wants to 100 percent endorse, ideally over a game of pool at the bar.