2010 Rock Hall Inductee: The Stooges

IGGY POP indulges in a rare acoustic performance. Pop was, and still is, The Stooges’ front man. Robert Matheu photo
IGGY POP indulges in a rare acoustic performance. Pop was, and still is, The Stooges’ front man. Robert Matheu photo
In 1970, and for a good few years after that as well, the idea of Iggy Pop and The Stooges being invited to any halfway respectable function would have struck many as being like asking Genghis Khan to bring a few friends around for tea.

Only Genghis probably wouldn’t have poured candle wax over his bare flesh, swung from the chandelier and then face planted into a heap of broken glass, while a handful of miscreant admirers smeared peanut butter over his half-naked torso.

Or maybe he would. Either way, The Stooges weren’t simply the band that a lot of media observers loved to hate; they were the band that they hated full stop. Slobbering nihilism, screamed one of their critics. Talentless slop, yelled another. Two albums, an eponymous pile of banal riff-a-rama in 1969 and an impenetrable heap of sub-metallic zeros in 1970, had passed unnoticed and unheralded by all but a handful of brain-damaged cretins. And while the emergent David Bowie claimed to love everything the band ever stood for, even he could only stand to listen to their latest record for two days before he walked out of the studio where he was supposed to be mixing it and left the band with a pool of unlistenable mud.

And the fact that Raw Power, the resultant platter, would later be seized upon as a signal influence on early punk rock just shows how little good music mattered to that crowd, as well. In short, The Stooges have about as much business being in the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame as … oh, think of your own analogy. I’m too disgusted to bother. Or …

The idea of letting The Stooges into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame simply shows how out of touch with its own raison d’etre that benighted pile of bricks really is. At a time, the late 1960s, when rock in general was nothing more than the flaccid bleatings of a heap of burned-out hippies, all on a suicidal collision course with earnest singer-songwriter fame, The Stooges burst out of Ann Arbor, Mich., to remind us that it really didn’t have to be that way. That we didn’t all have to go to San Francisco with flowers in our hair, and then sit around a muddy field in Woodstock hoping that the acid would wear off before Buffy Sainte-Marie came on.

The Stooges in their original form, the four piece that producer John Cale wrangled into creating the most atypical album of the entire 1960s (and who followed it up by creating the defining presence of the decade after that), were napalm for the senses. They may have been crude, they might have been sloppy and they were certainly a danger to both themselves and their audience, but the songs they recorded looked back to the very birth of rock ’n’ roll and stripped away all the nonsense that had been steering it off course ever since.

Leave a Reply