Sunday Morning: No Fun For The Stooges

As usual, legendary group remains outcasts.

How fitting that, for the second year in a row, The Stooges, one of the most important rock 'n' roll bands of all time, won't be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Back in 1969, the year The Stooges -- singer/frontman Iggy Pop, guitarist Ron Asheton, bassist Dave Alexander and drummer Scott Asheton -- released their first album, they weren't invited to the big doo that took place that year: Woodstock. While the big hippie bands of the day played to the peace and love crowd, The Stooges were up in Detroit jamming on proto-punk dirges like "1969," which opened their first album with the now classic punk declaration: "Well it's 1969, OK/ All across the U. S. A./ It's another year for me and you/ Another year with nothin' to do."

Supposedly, over 1000 rock 'n' roll "experts" vote on a handful of artists selected by a nominating committee comprised of a much smaller group of "experts." (To their credit, that group at least got The Stooges on the ballot.) But as for that other group, of which I'm a member, what kind of experts are most of them, if they voted in The Mamas and the Papas and Fleetwood Mac, while pissing on The Stooges?

Don't get me wrong, I've a had more than a few good times with "Monday, Monday" and "California Dreamin' " playin' in the background, and Fleetwood Mac certainly gave us a couple of great pop albums.

But when you consider the HISTORY OF ROCK 'N' ROLL, something this Cleveland-based Hall of Fame (for which I once acted as a curator -- hey, we lay ALL our cards on the table here at ATN) is supposed to document, you gotta wonder what at least a few 100 of these voters were smokin' when they filled out their ballots.

Punk has been one of the most influential movements of the past twenty-plus years. No punk, no R.E.M. No punk, no U2. No punk, no Nirvana. No punk, No Pearl Jam. No punk, no Smashing Pumpkins. Get the idea...

And if not for The Stooges (and a few others like the Velvet Underground and the New York Dolls), NO PUNK.

Simple as that.

Now, by contrast, let's look at how the pop songs of Fleetwood Mac have changed the face of anything. At this point, there is a long, long silence. Now I haven't talked to any of the other voters who participated in this year's Hall of Fame election. I don't know if Lindsey Buckingham personally went around and slapped each one (except me) on the back and offered them a fine cigar, or if they just put on their old scratched copies of Rumours and got all teary-eyed remembering the first time they got laid or whatever.

All I know is that, somehow, they managed to vote for some exceedingly marginal acts (historically speaking), while giving The Stooges the shaft. And I have to think that most of these voters, back in 1969, were either wishing their mama and papa would let them go to Woodstock, or were sittin' around smokin' dope, growin' out their hair, trying to imitate the hippies they saw in the photo spreads that had run in Life and Look magazine.

One thing I can bet you they weren't doing was listening to The Stooges. You know they weren't singin' along to "I Wanna Be Your Dog" or even "Real Cool Time."

I would suggest, even, that they were hummin' "Monday Monday," that they were "California Dreaming."

And there's nothin' wrong with any of that. Hey, I'm not tossin' out value judgments here. I'm not tryin' to imply that an enormous number of folks who get to vote in the Hall of Fame poll are losers. Were always losers, and will go to their graves as losers.

No way.

I just hope, somehow, while the members of The Stooges are still alive, that they get inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And not just for the benefit of those band members, either. For until The Stooges are inducted, no one who really gives a damn about rock 'n' roll can take the Hall of Fame seriously. I mean, what would you think if the National Baseball Hall Of Fame didn't include Babe Ruth.

Know what I mean?

[Sun., Oct. 26, 1997, 9 a.m. PDT]