Cover photo (C) 1970 Kurt Ingham, The Stooges live, San Francisco, 1970
This was one of the first if not the first nation-wide cover stories on The Stooges seen in a mainstream multi-arts magazine, not just a regional, music-based one. This centerpiece article by John Mendelsohn featuring lots more natural stage light, live performance photos (which took great skill then and a close, personal relationship with a pro lab that would push film beyond recommended specs) by Kurt Ingham (AKA singer Mr. Twister) (and future Mr. Fastfilm) extolled Stooges virtues that we all now consider Gospel right as they happened for the first time. And back in the day, it took someone like Mendelsohn to spot the appeal and potential of The Stooges beyond Detroit.
Forty years ago, Mendelsohn was characterized as a rather prickly character by our late mutual friend Shelley B. However, he was a genius pop culture writer of witty style, full of himself and well-employed: a Los Angeles Times staff music writer in additional to Rolling Stone and Creem music reviewer (The Who and The Kinks were indebted to his efforts instrumental in their finally breaking the US market.) He mattered in the press, and didn't just like but loved the Stooges as kindred subversives. He trumpeted same to anyone who'd read or listen, particularly like-minded, quirky new friends such as visiting rookie musician David Bowie. (Here in L.A. as with most of the world in the pre-internet Pleistocene, absolutely no one beyond Midwestern zip codes had any prior Stooge exposure.)
(Fun factoid: Bowie's first trip to the USA during which Mendelsohn introduced the former to the Stooges' music (Paul Trynka's Iggy bio "Open Up and Bleed," pg. 148) found David without a work visa coming through. Consequently his only live performance was with Twister and John's bandmate's guitar, solo in a living room for assorted insiders. I wasn't one of them.)
Mendelsohn, a contrarian by hobby (just try engaging him in discourse on the Facebook Christopher Milk Fan Club) instantly had adored all the deliberate antagonism aspects of the Stooges, both musically and stagecraft-wise. Remember, all Iggy's then new in-your-faceness and Ron Asheton's snarky simplicity were years before punk.
John then incorporated rather a bit of it into his own band Christopher Milk with his sardonic between-song patter, and wanted lead singer Mr. Twister to attain more Iggy-esqueness. Twister liked the wild abandon aspect but not the mimicry, and opted to try more originality. After he photographed the Stooges 1970 gig in San Francisco for Entertainment World, espying that the Ig also ran around into the audience on table tops and biting people, Twister upped the ante by setting his own bare torso on fire onstage (with movie special effects chemicals.) This stunt wasn't repeated not due to Fire Dept. Safety intervention but because the band lacked a professional lighting system necessary to illuminate the flames atop his skin.
When the Stooges evolved musically with new guitarist James Williamson into the blast furnace aggression/ innovation/ nastiness/ speed of light musicality of "Raw Power," John, perhaps preferring any band's antagonism be more like his own verbal version, just wasn't as interested. He now spells his name with an additional "s" and blogs here at LINK Nepotism disclaimer: I know/ have met/ have worked with all of the people mentioned in this treatise, and forthwith now apologize both to them and all readers for any injustices perceived or merely abstractly inferred.
Photo at bottom right for the curious: Mr. Twister and John Mendelsohn in Christopher Milk 1970, photographer unknown