I just spent several hours on the Internet, searching for Iggy Pop’s entire acceptance speech following the Stooges' induction (finally – “It’s about fucking time!” Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong bellowed at the end of his excellent induction speech) into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last night. Can’t find it yet and there aren’t any decent videos on Youtube yet, either. Too bad because even though we’re a little prejudiced over here at Metro Times, all biases aside, it was the greatest acceptance speech ever delivered by anyone at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
It took eight ridiculous tries for the band to finally get into the stodgy institution
and many fans felt that the group should have done exactly what the Sex Pistols did several years ago by telling the Hall of Fame honchos to go fuck themselves and not showing up. But Iggy did the Pistols one better by showing up to accept the award
and then basically telling the honchos to go fuck themselves by giving the assembled crowd a long, double middle -fingered (as in “the bird”) salute
before greeting the crowd with a boisterous “Let’s fuck it up!”
“Roll over, Woodstock!” he added. “We won,” an insult that some may interpret as a dig at Rolling Stone publisher-editor and one of the main men behind the Hall of Fame, Jann Wenner. Iggy's speech was almost performance art, as he held up note cards with large lettering containing some of the same words he was speaking (which we’ll have to paraphrase for now until someone sends us the actual text, which we’ll post immediately). Iggy mentioned that the honor would have meant a lot to the late Ron Asheton, adding, sarcastically: “He was pissed off that you didn’t induct him while he was alive. But I imagine Ron is up in heaven right now, sitting at a table with Brian Jones, drinking martinis and flicking cigarette ashes on all our heads.” Iggy also made a snide comment about the record industry’s decline over the last decade or so, adding: “Music is life
and life ain’t a business!”
The Igster also mentioned and thanked a lot of the “cool people,” including the MC5 (the Stooges' Michigan roots were also acknowledged during the film clips that were shown before the induction speech, which included two CREEM Magazine covers but none of Rolling Stone
which could also be interpreted as another middle finger to Mr. Wenner and crew) , former A&R man and punk rock instigator Danny Fields, and especially "the Stooges fans" who stuck with the band through thick and thin. “I don’t imagine many of them could afford the $1200 it cost to get in here,” he quipped, pointing to the balcony of the Waldorf Astoria ballroom and joking that maybe two or three were up in the cheap seats...and maybe one or two on the main floor. In that same vein, he also thanked “all the poor people who actually started rock ‘n’ roll."
Then things got very moving and emotional when Iggy ended the speech by noting that he and the other two members onstage with him – guitarist James Williamson and drummer Scott Asheton -- were the sole survivors of the Stooges. He choked-up and his eyes welled with tears when he said: “I think it was [F. Scot] Fitzgerald who said there are no second acts in American life. But this particular group of friends had the luxury of a lovely second act. So thanks.”
Scott Asheton also moved those watching at home when he mentioned his late brother, stating: “I've got to say that I really miss making music with him and I probably will for the rest of my life.”
Williamson joked about how long it took the band to be accepted into the HoF ("We were beginning to think we would have to take pride in holding the longest record for not getting in”), as Iggy began stripping off his jacket, tie and shirt behind the guitarist, preparing for the night’s most dynamic live performance. They then delivered a simply stunning version of “Search & Destroy,” proving that Williamson hasn’t lost one terrific lick during his years away from the stage; it was the first performance in the U.S. of this particular reunited version of the Stooges, by the way. And then it was time for “I Wanna Be Your Dog.” Iggy did what Iggy does best, jumping into the crowd and literally taunting the folks at the expensive tables in their tuxedos and gowns, stopping just short of leaping onto one of those tables. Most of the crowd looked extremely – how you say? – uncomfortable, to say the least.
"C'mon, rich people!” Iggy roared. “C'mon, let's get some rich ladies up here! Show me you're not too rich to be cool! Let’s get the Upper East Side up here!” Only a few took him up on the offer – including Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder and Jeff Ament and Green Day’s Mike Dirnt – joining the band onstage and dancing with wild abandon and childlike joy.
It was rock ‘n’ roll (as opposed to the more formal rock and roll) in action. And the fact that it took this band – who are the very definition of the term, with a lead singer who is the very embodiment of rock 'n' roll – eight years to get into this institution makes one question the validity of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame all over again
especially when Billie Joe mentioned a multitude of bands and solo artists who would've never existed without this crew’s influence. As Iggy joked to me more than a decade ago when discussing the subject of the Hall of Fame and his chances of joining the elite crew: “Well, maybe if I titled one of my albums Fucking Heroic Young Record Executive or something like that
but it’s hard to name many any cooler than Michigan’s own Iggy Pop. Little Steven Van Zant later began his induction of the Hollies by stating: “Iggy Pop is cool
” and it’s damn hard to disagree with that sentiment. At 60-plus, he was a damn sight cooler than anyone else in that room last night. As Scott Asheton declared at the end of his speech: “God loves the Stooges!”
Fuse TV will rebroadcast an edited version of the ceremony throughout this week. Check their website for times and dates...but take my word for it -- you can stop watching after the Stooges' segment because nothing else is quite as rock 'n' (or and) roll. Not even close...