Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

The Stooges—
Crosley Field, 1970


Released 1970 on Unknown
The Seth Man, July 2005ce
Spot the shaman: Iggy points forward, lost in the future.
This remarkable photograph was shot at exactly the right moment -- the moment it happened.

June 13, 1970.
Cincinnati Pop Festival.
Crosley Field.
Cincinnati, Ohio.
USA.
Planet earth.

Televised nationally as “Midsummer’s Rock Festival”, this pop festival had many moments of intensity, but nothing on the level of The Stooges as they are first caught blasting their way through “TV Eye”, already in progress. Due to the quality of network television sound reproduction in 1970, the mix is a typically “pop” one: with the vocals WAY up and all the instruments thrown in the back. And Iggy’s voice is a strangulated cry from the depths of frustration: spitting out the lyrics like discharging all the venom that was building inside but releasing not anger, but a freeing, demon-dispelling release.

And although the music is thrown to the very back of the mix, it STILL cuts through and it’s just as tight as Iggy’s own pants. It sounds like ‘Fun House” but not because it’s just a duplication of it. The energy’s all there and spilling out into that packed Midwestern baseball stadium and into everybody’s ears, their hearts, their minds and their bodies. Mostly everybody is moving along to it, but much of the audience seems plain stunned.

Iggy’s wearing nothing but silver opera gloves up to where opera gloves usually extend to, a dog collar, the belt (pulled so tightly around his waist as to leave a considerable amount of the unused portion to flap around as though a swollen penis a half minute away from immediate erection), old and tight blue jeans and those same black boots he wore in the gatefold of “Fun House” (and come to think of it: the back sleeve of “Raw Power”, too.) And bare-chested, wide-eyed and sweaty, he flails his arms, dances a thumping, stomping frenzy (which gets picked up on the recording as though they’re performing on a soundstage, so everything is drowned in a sea of ten foot tall giant clodhopping steps going BOOM-BOOM-BOOM-THUD-BOOM) and then jumps down into the audience from the stage. You hear a voice off-camera caught saying, “We’ve just lost the sound” but you can still hear “TV Eye” blaring. Hmm... It’s weird enough they’re doing a song called “TV Eye” in front of a thicket of television cameras, but to say “we’ve just lost the sound” just a few seconds before the plug gets pulled for a commercial?) The camera is trained on the audience right in front of the stage where Iggy has disappeared into and it’s a couple of seconds later that it cut off so it was probably due more to a producer’s panic at something spinning out beyond his control, choosing to rather lamely blame it on some fictitious technical problem.

Cut back to The Stooges. Iggy’s back onstage and they’re already headlong into “1970.” He’s lost his left glove and is now on his knees crawling around the stage prowling like an untamed animal, looking for the last kick to be had. The Stooges are swirling all around him musically, now joined by Steve McKay on public saxophone, and he propels himself into the audience for the final time after being informed by Mr. Previous Cold Feet Bystander that Iggy’s been in and out of several times and at this point even HE seems to be getting into the proceedings. Iggy is now baying RIGHT into their surrounding faces:

“OUTTA MAH MIND ON SAT-DAY NOIGHT/NINTEENSEVENTAH/ROLLIN’ IN SOIGHT!”

Which is perfect, because the evening of this event -- June 13, 1970 -- WAS Saturday night, as well as being RIGHT smack dab in the middle of 1970.

Soon, he’s caterwauling the refrain:

“I FEEL AWLROIGHT!
I FEEL AWLROIGHT!
I FEEL AWLROIGHT!
I FEEL AWLROIGHT!”

Picked up through Iggy’s microphone is an innocent girl’s voice asking sweet with concern, “Are you alright?” (Earlier, another young thing can even be spotting doing an action sketch of Iggy while sitting by the side of the stage, which is just so classic.) Right then, Iggy begins to clamber and heave-ho himself up on two, then several members of the audience, who soon give him a hand in ascending to their shoulders, head, the heavens, whatever. And before you know it --

He is UP.

He is standing up and above the audience.

Wearing those black boots while supported by the shoulders of his Midwestern brothers and sisters.

He gains balance easily, surveys his people and then points directly forward into the future. It’s fucking great. He and his provincial brethren have ascending into a place far, far, far away from a baseball stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio and into a place they have christened as their own forever. The cops ringing the outer edges of the audience look mighty nervous as they behold wild dancing to the throb of The Stooges, joined by Steven McKay’s blistering freeform sax and the whole place feels like it could break apart and crack a fissure in the earth right down to the molten core of planet earth...

Soon, a jar of peanut butter is in Iggy’s right and gloved hand, passed up to him by some concertgoer who had no idea his typical American picnic spread would soon be plastered all over the chest of this sweaty kid wearing a dog collar towering over his peers. Iggy smears it all over his chest and then he starts flinging it all over the place. It doesn’t really fly far because he’s throwing it UP and it’s landing wherever. And in doing so, consecrates the whole stadium and everybody without singling out any one person.

He is soon lifted down from his mighty perch as “1970” draws to a hurried conclusion. And arms akimbo, Iggy is passed back to the stage with a reverence that is something else to behold. The moment is over but never forgotten by those inhabitants of the provincial Inland Empire.

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