With a sobriquet that dovetails with a perfected rock ’n’ roll aesthete, a sober effusiveness that rivals any drunken late-night raconteur and an obvious vulnerability to daylight, the glam-tinged Stirling (ne Alden Walker Gallup III) has been beguiling Detroit nights since 1970. And he’s never left.
From Bookies to Max’s Kansas City, Stirling has been described as a scenester on par with Warhol’s Factory-era glitterati. He once drove Lou Reed to a methadone clinic; watched cartoons and drank beer with Alice Cooper; he’s hung with Wayne, er, Jayne County. He’s traded rooster-hair hints with Rod Stewart and befriended Robert Plant and Led Zeppelin. He once visited his pal Iggy Pop in Berlin in ’78 (“he was actually in the Berlin phone book”), whereupon he befriended the Kinks.
Stirling has run clubs, promoted shows (his debut production was a ’75 Motor City Mutants gig at a Detroit VFW hall), and owned record stores. When video was in its infancy, he did crafty vignettes for galleries and commercial concerns of artists at work. Later he even recorded a locally embraced single called “Money, Marbles and Chalk.” He gave techno stalwart Derrick May his first gig in 1984 when he ran a club called Liedernacht (now the City Club).
The wispy, long-limbed gent — he bears an uncanny resemblance to Here Come the Warm Jets-era Brian Eno — presently directs the career of comely chanteuse Audra Kubat, and next month will enter Jim Diamond’s studio to do a single with musical support from the Sights.
What are Stirling’s pet passions of the Motor City? “Simple,” chirps the elder statesman of Detroit rock ’n’ roll, “the three things that have kept me here are the lakes, the elegance and decay of Detroit’s barren cityscape, and the re-emergence of Detroit rock ’n’ roll.”