50 Years Ago Today The Stooges Played Their First Show

50 Years Ago Today The Stooges Played Their First Show


Iggy Pop of the Stooges. Photo by Tom Copi/Michael Ochs Archive/Getty Images.

It was 50 years ago today… All Hallow’s Eve, 1967. Iggy & the Stooges made their first public appearance. Only they weren’t called Iggy & the Stooges or even just the Stooges. It was the Psychedelic Stooges. The ‘Psychedelic’ part was self-explanatory I guess. ‘Stooges’ was in honour of the band’s favourite farcical comedy trio of the ‘30s & ‘40s. Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton, ever respectful, had even contacted original Stooge Moe Howard to see if he minded.

Early Stooges. Take from the book TOTAL CHAOS: The Story of the Stooges by Jeff Gold, on Third Man Books https://totalchaosbook.com/

Even at the height of their ‘success’, when they were known as Iggy & the Stooges and being produced by David Bowie, the Stooges were hardly a conventional rock band. But at the start, Scott Asheton was playing a kit made from oil drums and Iggy played a Hawaiian guitar with every string tuned to E. Later guitarist Ron Asheton played bass, and later bass player Dave Alexander basically played with Ron’s amplifier, manipulating the sound of what Ron was playing.

The performance took place at a party at the house of Scott Richardson, leader of then prominent Detroit underground band the SRC, and it was attended by the MC5. The MC5, who became the Stooges big brother band (and ultimately helped get them signed to Elektra), were known for their increasingly radical politics and their increasingly out-there sound, which combined hard rock with free jazz. They’d found their match with the Stooges!

Within a year the band had signed to Elektra, and by mid-1969, their debut album, The Stooges, was in stores and causing something of a stir in the rock press. Within 7 years, although the band was long gone, their influence was being felt the world over in the stirrings of punk. The Sex Pistols, the Ramones, the Saints, Radio Birdman – you name it and if they were remotely associated with punk they were influenced by the Stooges.

The band went on to be inducted into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame in 2010. By that stage, two of its original members were no longer with us. Dave Alexander had died in 1975. Ron Asheton had only recently passed, in 2009, having lived not just long enough to see the band’s influence change music but to take place in a well-received and lucrative reunion that lasted from 2003 till his death. (After Ron’s death, the guitarist who had originally replaced him for their 1973 album Raw Power, James Williamson, again took his place.)  Following the Hall of Fame induction, Ron’s brother, drummer Scott Asheton also passed way (in 2014 – he was clearly not in great health sadly when interviewed for Jim Jarmusch's Stooges documentary Gimme Danger), leaving Iggy as the only member of the original band left.

To celebrate the band’s early days and later reformation, we give you a couple of great clips. The first is the legendary Cincinnati Pop Festival performance from 1970. This is clearly the best of what little footage there is of the original band. And their performance is so extreme that the presenter takes to commentating it like a sporting event. This is also the show in which Iggy was famously held aloft by the crowd as he smeared peanut butter over his chest.

We’ll finish off with a rarely heard track from the Iggy, Ron and Scott reformation. Originally an outtake, the track ended up running over the closing credits of the biopic of the band’s beloved Three Stooges in 2012. It’s a bit of a throwaway, but lyrically it sums up the endurance and commitment of the Stooges (and the Three Stooges) simply and succinctly.

Of course, you can also listen to the Stooges two classic Elektra albums on Spotify too – The Stooges and Funhouse.

Here's some studio dialogue captured during the making of the Funhouse album...


If you haven’t seen it already, check out our feature on the Stooges’ influence on Australian rock’n’roll here.

- DL

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