City Slang: Früt plays Frutstock this weekend

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On Friday and Saturday this weekend, Grande Ballroom rock veterans Früt play the annual reunion show at the Rec Bowl in Mt. Clemens. Also on the bill is Strat Axis featuring Little Leon. There’s no cover, and two great posters for the event have been designed, by Gary Grimshaw (above) and Carl Lundgren (below). I spoke to Früt front man Norm about the event a couple of years ago and, to celebrate Früt coming out of retirement yet again, here’s the transcription in its entirety.

When did Früt form?

Früt formed in 1967 and went through the psychedelic phase, the blues phase, and we were called Früt Of The Loom. What happened was that we got together with Mike Quatro Productions, and he was our agent for many years. He enabled us to do a lot of cool things, like play with Jimi Hendrix, tour with Creedence Clearwater, and we even backed up Chuck Berry one time when his band didn’t show up. We had this beautiful house in the middle of Warren and we’d practice there while playing these beautiful gigs around Detroit with the Stooges and the MC5, and then all of a sudden a couple of the band members quit. My old bass player wanted to do ‘50s stuff. He found the humor in it. It was tongue in cheek, rather than angst-ridden. So we got some guys together and still called ourselves Früt Of The Loom. I was still the lead singer, going by the name Panama Red. Of course, that was the best weed you could get back then. We started playing, and we were absolutely terrible. People came to see us to see who would fall off the stage first, rather than to listen to our music. That made us one of the most popular live bands in Detroit. Pretty soon we started opening up our own clubs, and we would get all of our buddies like the Stooges, the MC5, Bob Seger, Ted Nugent and all of those guys to come and play for us. A few years back, a friend called me up and suggested a Früt party, and from that we decided to play a few songs. All of a sudden, there were 500 people there going crazy. From 1999 to now, once a year, anybody that is still alive gets together and does a show. Unfortunately this year, our original drummer Snidley Whiplash contracted cancer and I had to get a different drummer.

Is Snidley the only member from the classic line up not present?
No, that’s the other thing. My lead guitar player Crunchy Cristals shows up once in a while but he has respiratory problems so he can’t play so much. We have three chicks singing with us, the Warblettes. Nowadays, people show up just to see the chicks.

Why do you think Früt Of The Loom don’t have the status of the likes of the MC5 or the Stooges?

I’ll tell you why – we liked to get high. Iggy used to buy his stuff from my background singers. The MC5 were the same way. But we were more interested in what chicks were going to be around after the show and what drugs would be available, then we would play our music. When the MC5 got picked up by Elektra Records, they took the Stooges with them, not us. Actually, that was their downfall. They went off the deep end. At least we’re still pretty much alive. Aside from that, it’s just a case of wrong place, wrong time. That first MC5 album, Kick Out The Jams, is absolutely fabulous, and I really like the picture of the band that you put on the cover of your book (MC5: Sonically Speaking, available now on amazon.com). I tell you what - everybody looked like that back then. It was so much fun and we were lucky to be a part of it.


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