Happy Birthday to Iggy Pop, punk rock progenitor and undiluted, unreformed (well OK, maybe sort of) rock & roll rabble-rouser. Although this piece originally ran as a tribute to fallen Stooges drummer Scott Asheton, both my intro and the concert review that follows are both really meditations on the critical mass and paradoxically enduring legacy of a fast-flameout band who, hurling themselves head first and headlong into Woodstock Nation, exploded like an angry hand grenade, leaving the smoldering, scattered pieces of a jagged new music in their wake. It would take several years more for bands like the Ramones, Buzzcocks, and Sex Pistols to discover those shattered fragments of “Funhouse,” “Raw Power,” and the remains of the belligerent, buzzed, and bored-in-the-suburbs first LP that would set the template for what a new generation named “Punk.”
Before I had heard even one note from them, I was always a little afraid of the Stooges. But once I came to know and fiercely love the music of these Ann Arbor, MI. misfits — comprised of singer Iggy Stooge (nee James Osterberg), guitarist Ron Asheton, drummer Scott Asheton, and bass player Dave Alexander — I realized that this was exactly, precisely, the response they reveled in.
I came a few years late to the punk party of 1977, discovering all of that exotic, life-altering music in college. But even loud, confrontational, establishment-antagonizing bands like the Clash, Ramones, Sex Pistols, Voidoids et. al didn’t prepare me for what the Stooges had brought to lurid life out of their basements nearly ten years earlier. The four sullen young thugs with leathers and long hair staring back at me on the…
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