The Stooges, who have now been turned down for the Rock andRoll Hall Of Fame no less than seventimes. The blow is all the more bitter in the light of the recent death of RonAsheton, the man who carved out their sound, for there was no man morededicated to the cause of rock 'n' roll than he.
As a Brit, this seems incomprehensible. Fromwhere I stand, the Stooges are self-evidently more important than many of thosewho have preceded them into the Hall Of Fame. As John Lennon once asked aboutfans who yearned for The Beatles to reform, what more could they do? How muchmore influential could a band be? And how much more could anyone suffer fortheir art?
Let us remember, when the Stooges blasted forthout of Detroit,they were praised by a few decadent souls, but mocked and vilified by themasses. When the Stooges crashed and burned in 1971 (and again in 1974)succumbing to a slow death by indifference, heroin and audience-thrownprojectiles, some of the blame was their own. Yet much, if not all, of theself-destructiveness of the Stooges' last stand derived from a disconnectbetween the band's sense of their own importance, and that of the musicindustry that considered them irrelevant.
Thirty years on, it's obvious the Stooges wereright, and the industry was wrong. From the Ramones, whose primary inspirationwas a Stooges show at New York'sElectric Circus, to the Sex Pistols, who covered No Fun, to Kurt Cobain, who sofrequently inscribed the name of RawPower in the list of favorite albums he confided to his journals, theStooges have shaped today's musical landscape. The Stooges, and their acolytes,have helped the music business accumulate billions of dollars--which makestheir rejection even more of an insult.Iggy Pop, Ron and Scott Asheton, plus the estimable Mike Watt,whip huge audiences into a frenzy that few mainstream bands could match. No,the Stooges didn't sell masses of records. Nor did Little Richard compared toPat Boone, yet which one sounds crucial today? Why should this band be rejectedso many times in favor of bands like The Yardbirds or the Dave Clark Five--orthis year's complement of Jeff Beck and Little Anthony & The Imperials?Fine acts as they are, neither can possibly claim to have changed the musicallandscape as did the Stooges.
Of course, none of this would matter if RonAsheton were still with us. This was a man steeped in the mythology of rock 'n'roll, who gave himself up to it. His untimely death over the holiday periodrobs him of the chance to enter an institution which celebrates it.
In the short term, there is some solace.Injustices have a way of bringing people together, and James Williamson, theman who replaced Ron as lead guitarist in the Stooges but who has hardly spokento his ex-colleagues in the last 30 years, has made up with Iggy Pop. "If theStooges do make it into the Hall of Fame, I want to play," he told me. "And Iwould like to do one of Ron's songs. As a tribute."
If the opportunity continues to eludeWilliamson, as it did Ron Asheton, it will be a reflection not on him, but onan institution that features "Rock And Roll" in its title, but clearly does notunderstand it.
Wave your freak flag at www.Mojo4music.com. PaulTrynka is the author of Iggy Pop: Open Up And Bleed.