Saturday, March 13, 2010
I PHOTOGRAPHED THE 2010 ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES THE STOOGES, GENESIS, JIMMY CLIFF AND JEFF BARRY, just not on their induction night
In his worthy Retrokimmer blog, Deniz Tek claimed The Stooges make the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame look good, not vice versa. I'll add: if it's fast, loud, wild, proactive, sexy, hard, wicked, half-naked and confrontational, any rock music matching this description probably was incubated by The Stooges. They did it all at once simultaneously, and first. The singer? He invented in your face. Drummist? Totally gonzoid. The guitarists? Drone-y weirdness personified in the late, beloved Ron Asheton, then once and current Stooge James Williamson, a guitarist so creative he's credited with the template for every hard rock genre that came after him. And for just one release's eight songs! Iggy said it better recently: "James came from no known musical vocabulary."
I'm glad the H of F, after a shamefully dissing seven tries, finally was embarrassed (by fellow Detroit-er Madonna no less!) into inducting them on March 15, 2010. I also hope Iggy stage dives into their audience, clambers onto the $3K a seat tables and spills drinks onto their tuxedos while being broadcast-bleeped for screaming obscenities and fondling the hotties all the while. He owes them.
Is this any way for grown men to behave? Of course! It's called performance. Anything this subversive is always a clarion wake-up call in the arts, and believe me, all rock music thereafter was awakened, even if its progenitors, for the ensuing forty years, suffered ignominy (bad pun) from their peers until this one Hall of Fame night.
The Stooges once scared their audiences, but some of us were always elated. (Little Art School Girl here certainly knew who Chris Burden was.) Check out the sublimely thrilled audience faces on Tom Copi's iconic shot of Iggy walking on a sea of hands. I chose my above stage pic of them between songs at the Whisky A Gogo, 1973 because it's never been published before and it shows three who'll be performing at the H of Fame, from left James Williamson, Iggy Pop and Scott Thurston. The portrait of Iggy for a magazine cover session dates from 1990, and the one of James, with the same guitar as he used in my 1973 shot, is from 2009.
My Genesis shot at the Roxy, L.A. highlights original lead singer Peter Gabriel, he of the bat wings, whose insistence on bizarro personae matching his unique vocals mirrored the outre Glam of the day. This of course is the incarnation I prefer since Gabriel's the-weirder-the-better lyrical stance far better complemented their innate musical complexities. Phil Collins' Genesis may have been the chart-toppers, but Gabriel to this day still retains all the real cred.
Jimmy Cliff, my pic of him circa 2006 as he's still a dynamic performer, quite simply mainstreamed Reggae for the entire world at large from his starring role as musician/outlaw in the revolutionary Jamaican film "The Harder They Come." (see previous blog for immediate effect of this movie on your truly. I later even wrote a book on Bob Marley and the Wailers.)
Jeff Barry? Fabulous songwriter of whom I can't find my Avedon-esque black and white portrait (in which he artily would have resembled a vastly taller version of present day Phil Collins.) He was once married to my Westlake classmate, the beauteous Elizabeth Gaunt. Partnering with Ellie Greenwich and now disgraced Phil Spector, Barry wrote the classic "Be My Baby" for the Ronnettes amongst thousands more. That'll do.
Parting words are from my 1978 "Punk Rock 'n Roll" book, first overview on the subject published in the U.S. which, for bonus fun, included music tablature and went to press right the same week as the Sex Pistols broke up. These four sentences constitute the least I wrote on any of its featured artists because I felt the strongest about them and felt they spoke for themselves: it also inaugurated the very first instance of the subjective "I" in any of my writings, also because I felt so strongly about same:
"...More than any other selection, "Search And Destroy" constitutes the most seminal song in this entire notated repertoire. Virtually every Punk-inclined group to date claims the Stooges central to its inspiration and proffers one Stooges' song in its set, usually this one. James Williamson's scorching guitar work in this song coupled with Iggy Pop's havoc-wreaking imagery and overall savage abandon laid the foundation for ALL of the music that concerns us here. There is nothing I could say about Rock 'n' Roll in this book that "Search And Destroy" does not articulate already by itself."
My final thought having watched the Stooges play (and talk) on the televised Rock&Roll Hall of Fame show. I thought that given the artifice of the entire situation, the Stooges came off as very, very honest in their music, their attitude and their recognition of such a hard-won, lifetime triumph.