Most shocking thing about Stooges' Hall of Fame induction: it happened
The punk-rock pioneers from Ann Arbor had been nominated 7 times before without getting in. And Monday’s ceremony emphasized just how amazing it is that it finally came to pass at all.
The Stooges’ moment came early in the proceedings. Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day, a good choice, made a nice speech about the band’s primal impact and far-reaching influence. Then the three surviving core Stooges — Iggy Pop, Scott Asheton and James Williamson — spoke. Aside from Iggy’s opening double-bird-flipping to the entire audience, all three were thankful, gracious, and even humble — with lots of credit to the deceased band members, Ron Asheton and Dave Alexander, and to others who made contributions along the way.
Then they started playing. And that performance — or, rather, the reaction to it — brought home just how remarkable an achievement this was. Iggy ripped off his shirt and the band roared to life. And the audience pretty much just sat there.
The band started with “Search and Destroy,” and despite the black-tie surroundings and the palpable lack of response from the crowd, they managed to sound like themselves. I think there was some polite applause. Then they launched into “I Wanna Be Your Dog.” And while the band sounded great, it was hard not to wince when Iggy sang “Now I wanna ,” turned the microphone to the crowd, and was met with stone faces and silence rather than the shouted response “Be your dog!”
Maybe there were some in the audience who got into it, but it was hard to see any on TV. I can’t remember the last time I saw a more uncomfortable looking group of people. You could almost read the thought balloons: “I can’t wait for this to be over.” “Please make them stop.” “Bring out the Hollies.”
Iggy did his best to engage the crowd. “Come on, rich people!” he yelled (as if he’s not one). “Show us you’re not too rich to be cool!” A couple of the rich people did get up on stage and looked absolutely ridiculous, but I guess they deserve some credit. The song crashed to a close and the TV cut to an insurance commercial. And then it was on to the other inductees.
The names of those who vote on Hall honorees are kept secret, but I think it’s safe to assume there were some voters in that crowd. At the very least, the audience and the voters are part of the same institution — and that’s exactly what the Hall of Fame is. The point has been made many times that there’s something strange about the whole idea of a museum devoted to a phenomenon rooted in anti-establishment sentiment. Yet this time, the voters managed to get past whatever had held them back previously and inducted one of the most anti-establishment acts of all.
It took much too long for The Stooges to take this step; Ron Asheton really deserved to be there. But ultimately, the thing that should have happened did happen. The Hall showed Monday that despite its flaws, it can get things right in the end.