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Posted on Sat, Aug 1, 2009 : 6:05 a.m.

After 40 years, "The Stooges" — local band's landmark album — still strikes a chord

By Roger LeLievre


Forty years ago this month, the album “The Stooges” was released by the Ann Arbor band founded by Iggy Pop, to nearly non-existent sales and generally scathing reviews. Still, it has survived the test of time as one of the — if not the — records most often cited as inspiring the punk rock movement.

The album consisted of just eight songs. Of these, “1969,” “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and “No Fun” achieved the most notoriety, with “Dog” ranked number 438 on Rolling Stone magazine’s 2004 list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. In 2005, Q magazine placed “I Wanna Be Your Dog” at number 13 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks.

Listen to The Stooges' "I Wanna Be Your Dog" (MP3).

With its driving riff using only the G, F# and E chords, “I Wanna Be Your Dog” has been covered by many artists, from Red Hot Chili Peppers, Slayer, Sonic Youth and Uncle Tupelo to Weird Al Yankovic (sort of), who recorded a tribute parody called “Let Me Be Your Hog.”

Another seminal punk band, the U.K.-based Sex Pistols, were known to cover “No Fun” at many shows and released a studio version as a B-side. It was the last song performed by the group before breaking up.

Listen to The Stooges' "No Fun" (MP3).

Wrote Stephen Thomas Erlewine and Mark Deming for the All Music Guide:

“The Stooges were raw, immediate, and vulgar. ... In essence, The Stooges were the first rock & roll band completely stripped of the swinging beat that epitomized R&B and early rock & roll. ... Following three albums, The Stooges disbanded, but the group’s legacy grew over the next two decades, as legions of underground bands used their sludgy grind as a foundation for a variety of indie rock styles, and as Iggy Pop became a pop culture icon.”

We took the opportunity afforded by this anniversary to ask some local musicians and those involved in the music scene about “The Stooges” and offer their thoughts on the record when it was released and why the record is still considered relevant today.

Scott Morgan (Ann Arbor guitarist from the late 1960s Ann Arbor rock band The Rationals, as well as later groups such as Sonic's Rendezvous Band, The Scott Morgan Band, Dodge Main, Scott's Pirates, Powertrane and the Hydromatics): “It was a great album. None of [The Stooges] albums really sold very well, but they were very influential. ... The way [Stooges drummer] Scott Asheton put it, they went to New York, they didn’t really have songs, they were just kind of jamming. They wrote some stuff in the hotel, went in and recorded it. [They] slapped it together, but it was a great album. That’s the way they used to make albums. As you look back on it now, that stuff is great. ... "I Wanna Be Your Dog," it’s so primal. I think that [bassist] Dave Alexander had a lot to do with that album and of course Ron [late guitarist Ron Asheton] and Scott and Iggy. I think they got the idea for "I Wanna Be Your Dog" from Yusef Lateef’s "Detroit." If you listen to "Eastern Market," the song fades out [and] the bass player goes into a primal riff. Iggy turned me on to this album. He was working at Discount Records and said ‘Scott, buy this record.’”

Patrick Pyne (a member of the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti band Wide-Eyed and Encore Recordings staff):
“There was a rawness and approachability. [I thought] I could do that ... a three-minute song that jumps out and beats you down and lifts you up, all at the same time. ... At that time, if you told people that The Stooges, The Velvet Underground or Black Sabbath would be highly influential, they would have looked at you like you were an idiot.”

Kathleen Asheton (sister of The Stooges' drummer, Scott Asheton, and guitarist, the late Ron Asheton):
“I remember he first time I saw The Stooges play their first gig at [Detroit’s] Grande Ballroom. I couldn’t believe it was my brothers. What they were doing was beyond anything I could have imagined. Then everything happened so fast and they were off to record their first record. I was so excited for them, but I also thought, what if I don’t like it? I was totally blown away when I heard it. How that album changed my life was in a very personal way. Suddenly I was the little sister of two rock stars. I was so proud of my big brothers. They were then — and still are — my favorite band.”

Thumbnail image for 073009_BERRY MI THEATER 1-1 LON.jpg
Lee Berry (marketing director for the Michigan Theater; former concert promoter with Prism Productions and Eclipse Jazz): “When it came out I was in middle school. The group of guys I ran around with, everyone got this album. All the people who had bands started playing these songs. Any time you went to a party in 1969, "I Wanna Be Your Dog" was a standard. The record wasn’t a big hit, but in the Detroit area, in the youth culture, music circles it was huge. ... The bands I knew, these guys weren’t virtuoso players. These songs were songs anyone could play — that was the key to their appeal.

Martin Bandyke (morning host on Ann Arbor’s 107.1 FM, musicologist: [It was] hugely influential. ... I don’t think you can overrate how important it was. It was so primitive on so many levels. There were lots of dirty sounding garage rock bands, but just the minimalism of it. It was avant-garde in the way that it was so stripped down to the elements. And that wasn’t even taking into account what their live show was like ... Sonically speaking, this John Cale production matched with this music was kind of like being punched in the gut. It was very physical, visceral, primal rock and roll on a level that not really been done before.

There was no attempt to be commercial with what they were doing — this was something they were driven to do. Whether people loved it or hated it, there’s an authenticity to the music that transcends generations.

Gary Quackenbush (guitarist for the late 1960s Ann Arbor/Detroit rock band SRC): “All these myths about [The Stooges] being great - they were horrible. ... That’s the thing people don’t understand. They were a pariah on the local scene. They were tolerated but they got high and they got into hard drugs and Iggy was just a [expletive] freak show. The scene was wide open; Osterberg [Pop's real name is James Osterberg] buttered up Elektra [Records] when they came to town to sign the MC5, and [The Stooges] got a deal. Musicians hated them because they were so insane. I’m not going to mince words, and I love the guys, but it’s the cold hard truth. How they got that record recorded I don’t know. That record was a late bloomer - as time passed it proved to be a very seminal and influential record. [But] among musicians who weren’t trying to destroy or be negative it was awful.”

Excerpt from an Ann Arbor News interview with the late Ron Asheton, guitarist for The Stooges, in 2007:

A lot of bands cite The Stooges as being a big influence. How do you guys feel about that?

It’s a good feeling ... but you don’t think of it at the time. It was only when there was no Stooges and I was struggling as a musician living here in Ann Arbor, traveling and playing for $15 bucks a night ... That’s when I started hearing people go, "I just read in this magazine that so and so says you’re an influence." ... It was a really a nice feeling. So it turned out well because when we play now, everyone’s really familiar with the tunes and it’s really become something. ... The French love The Stooges so much that "I Wanna Be Your Dog" is the new French national anthem. I did a TV show and the guy said [Asheton adopts a French accent] "Yes it is. It is a good idea." So finally it’s all paid off, the hanging in there, the waiting, and a lot of help from people like Kurt Cobain saying Stooges [were influential] and a lot of people that were successful that would actually say something good about us.

The Stooges perform "TV Eye" and ("Fun House" track) "1970" live in Cincinnati:

Roger LeLievre is a free-lance writer who covers music for

Lee Berry photo by Lon Horwedel.



Thu, Aug 20, 2009 : 8:01 a.m.

Hi all, Natalie Schlossman who used to run the Stooges fanclub is co-authoring a book which looks back at all Stooges concerts from 68-74. If anyone has accurate memories of gigs they attended, tracks played, incidents, etc could you drop me an email (with gig locations+dates if you remember) to so I can pass your details on to Natalie. Regards, Rupert

Eric P

Wed, Aug 5, 2009 : 8:26 p.m.

I fear I might not have been as clear as I could with my last post. Let's try it this way: Dee Dee's complaint was about spoiled rich kids, Iggy has said he was inspired by the way that Jim Morrison and the Doors pissed off the football team (spoiled rich kids) when they played homecoming in the 60s. Both were seeing the same problem. Another thing that Ann Arbor has to face up to is that it's filled with people who talk a good radical game but are really conservative.

Eric P

Wed, Aug 5, 2009 : 7:37 p.m.

Mr. Glenn: I have to disagree, Ann Arbor when Dee Dee hit town in the late 80s (so only 20 years later) was still very much in the thrall of the Baby Boomer Culture war that the Stooges were reacting to. It was still a divided community with spoiled rich kids seemed to fill the University, a number of affluent locals and their kids had some sway, but a lot of townies were second class citizen-- to me and a lot of my peers, that was what The Stooges were reacting to. Iggy grew up in a trailer park, the Ashton brothers lived in a very middle class neighborhood-- their songs were often about how those things made them outsiders in this town that supposed to be so radical and so open to those who didn't fit in.

Alan Goldsmith

Mon, Aug 3, 2009 : 2:55 p.m.

Roger, Thanks for the great article!


Sat, Aug 1, 2009 : 11:02 a.m.

Having known Scott and Ron before they made it big and then after as well. I was so happy and proud of them. I always thought how Proud Kathy their sister had to have been of her brothers. They were a close family and it is was a pleasure growing up with them and then watching them soar into the sky to stardom. I trust Ron is looking down on them and he has his big smile going on.

Eric P

Sat, Aug 1, 2009 : 10:40 a.m.

Nice to see The Stooges getting some attention on I have to say that it's a little disappointing to see that you only talked to Baby Boomers about the album and it's impact. As a kid growing up in Ann Arbor I never heard of or about the Stooges in the 80s and early 90s (despite attending high school with Scott Ashton's step kids). It wasn't until the late 90s when I was part of the then current local (and international) Hi-Energy Rock scene that a friend from DC told my brother and I that we had to check out The Stooges and the MC5 that I even knew there had been this local proto-punk scene in the town I grew up in. As for the impact of the Stooges LP, on my and my friends, it was shocking that these guys were from Ann Arbor, they were singing about the culture around them (which hadn't changed all that much in the 25 years between then and when we were listening to the record). It was primal, it was urgent, it was angry and it rocked. Dee Dee Ramone once wrote of his time in Ann Arbor: I never knew there was a class system in America until I moved to Ann Arbor Michigan. This town was populated dominated might be a better word- by rich, spoiled college students. I can see how Liverpool gave us the Beatles, but Ill never understand how Ann Arbor gave us Iggy and the Stooges. -Dee Dee Ramone, Lobotomy: surviving the Ramones. P. 255 My peers and I understood perfectly how the Stooges were a reaction to the culture in Ann Arbor, and how their howl at the world had shaped punk and hard rock since then. It should also be noted that the albums didn't sell when they first came out, but they sell more copies now than ever before, and often times more copies than the records that were topping the charts when they were released.

Kevin Ransom

Sat, Aug 1, 2009 : 8:44 a.m.

Ha. I was just posting Stooges lyrics on FB yesterday "Last year I was twenty-one.....Didn't have a lot of fun. Now I'm gonna be twenty-two....I say, 'Oh my, and a, a boo-hoo."

hockey dan

Sat, Aug 1, 2009 : 8:19 a.m.

It was either 1969 or 1970 when the Stooges opened for Timothy Leary (sp?) at Hill Auditorium. An Awesome show, and in my mind, it had to be one of their best performances. The crowd was so psyched! Does anybody else out there remember that one???... Iggy sliding through his own puke into the first rows.....???? I don't remember a word of what Leary said, but the Stooges were UNREAL!!