Looking back, I figure it was some sort of twisted joke.
In the late 60s/early 70s, the biggest magazine display in the town of Stonington on Deer Isle, ME was at the drugstore on Main Street. There were all the titles you might expect to find, from the mainstreamers such as Look and Life to specialty titles like Field & Stream or Hot Rod … but there was also a patch of mags like Crawdaddy, Creem, and later on, Rock Scene. And these weren’t just jammed in the rack once as a mistake by some bored and/or half-drunk delivery guy who couldn’t wait to get back on to the mainland, either. Nosiree – these titles were faithfully updated every issue for years.
The thing was, I’m pretty sure I was the only one buying those publications on a regular basis. The drugstore may have sold the occasional Rolling Stone to one of the scattered University of Maine alumni on the island – but I’m pretty sure I was the sole regular purchaser of the other titles. And at that point, I was a kid, thrilled to be riding my bicycle downtown.
So maybe somebody was just trying to weird out the folks who ran the drugstore – that’s what I believe. Or maybe there was a long-running clerical error in the standing rotation of publications for that particular magazine rack – that’s possible, too. Regardless, Thursdays were magazine days and I’d be awaiting my sole connections to the rock and roll world. (Unless we made one of our rare trips over to Ellsworth on the mainland – a solid hour’s drive each way – where there was a Mr. Paperback. And a record store.)
I can’t tell you for sure whose pages first exposed me to The Stooges, but it’s likely that it was Creem. (Creem was probably my favorite. They had the writers: they had Dave Marsh and Richard Meltzer. Best of all, they had frigging Lester Bangs. Boy Howdy, indeed.) You had your furry freaks and your wild rockers; you had your power poppers from far-away England and your acidheads from the West Coast – but there wasn’t anybody like The Stooges. Their hair was long, but they weren’t hippies; they had the sneers, but they weren’t greasers; they acted like they didn’t give a shit, but they were deadly serious.
And then there was their frontman/lead singer, Iggy Pop. I was old enough to know that there was something going on when Mick Jagger slapped his belt on the stage to the beat of the slow hip-thrusts in the middle of “Midnight Rambler”. What Iggy Pop did was something else altogether. Jagger teased his audience from the edge of the stage, always staying just beyond the reach of their pleading fingers – Iggy launched himself right into their faces. Jagger’s seduction was a dry hump (not that I knew what that meant back then) while Iggy was not going to be satisfied unless every soul in the crowd got sprayed, splashed, or slathered with some of his sweat, spit, or whatever. And all the while he was being tossed and thrashed and tumbled on a sea of groping hands, The Stooges would be wailing away at their instruments – with Scott Asheton laying down the absolute defining beat of a different drummer. And when Iggy would lunge back onto the stage, he’d be dancing even wilder and singing even fiercer than he had before. Stooges shows on the average only lasted 30 to 40 minutes back then, but it was okay – there was nothing left to give or take by that point.
None of this may mean much to you, but let me give you a bit of context: The Stooges released their self-titled debut album in 1969, okay? It would be another 8 years before I staggered home with a copy of the Sex Pistols’ first record. 8 years. Think about it. Iggy and The Stooges didn’t cop any moves off anyone else; there was no one else doing what they were doing.
There’s a certain amount of messy stuff involved in any birthing and that’s exactly what The Stooges were to punk rock: the messy stuff at the birthing.
The whole point of me telling you this is that even a kid on a rock off the coast of Maine could feel the reverberations of Iggy Pop’s crash landings as he hurled himself off the stage at Max’s Kansas City in New York. I’d ride my bike home with my new copy of Creem in my carrier, anxious to dig into it … but knowing that I probably shouldn’t leave it out on the kitchen table. (Those pictures of that wild-eyed peanut butter-slathered madman gouging at his bloody chest just might cause my mother some worry.)
And I definitely knew that I shouldn’t sing “I Wanna Be Your Dog” around the house, either.
This essay originally appeared on Jambands.com on 4/30/10