10: Iggy Pop – Louie Louie

Posted: February 8, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

The original, an 1955 R&B song, written and performed by Richard Berry, concerned a Jamaican sailor returning to his girlfriend on the island. When it was recorded by The Kingsmen, from Oregon, in 1963, it lost that meaning (in fact it lost all meaning – and the FBI even investigated the song for possible obscenity) but it became the standard for garage bands everywhere.

In the early 1980s, I was booking the bands and running the concerts at Leeds University. This short extract below from my autobiography, No Off Switch, recalls an unforgettable Louie Louie moment at an Iggy Pop gig I staged in the legendary University Refectory (the Refec) on Thursday 2nd July 1981. The photograph is of Iggy on stage that night. Now read on…

 

Iggy

If we had reason to expect misbehaviour from any visiting rock star, it was Iggy Pop. Less than ten years on from the mayhem in Detroit, caught on his Metallic KO bootleg, there were lurid accounts of riots at other Stooges gigs, Iggy slashing his own chest on stage, a troubling heroin appetite and a fondness for pulling out his considerable plonker. He was the embodiment of true punk and, allegedly, a genuine Wild Man of Rock.

On the afternoon of the gig, approaching soundcheck time, I saw the familiar huddle that was always the band’s arrival making its way down the Refec towards me and my Crew buddies by the stage. I stepped forward to introduce myself. It was Iggy all right and I extended my hand and said hello to him and his band members. He was charm itself.

During the soundcheck we were standing together by the stage, Iggy waiting to try out his vocals.

“Do you still do Louie Louie?” I asked him.

It was one of my favourite rock & roll songs, I explained, fail-safe in its simplicity, that I collected versions of it and I told him how much I’d enjoyed his reading of it on Metallic KO.

“Nah, I’m afraid not,” he said. “We haven’t played that in a long time.”

Cut to seven hours later and the Refec floor is bouncing and booming as thousands of feet pound the parquet for an encore. The band climbs back on stage, the crowd goes wild again and Iggy, now stripped to the waist, leans on the microphone stand and leers at his disciples. There is a hush. He looks across at me, winks, and turns to the band.

“Okay, you guys. How about we give ’em Louie Louie and get outta this goddam fucking whorehouse?”

BA-BA-BAM, BA-BAM, BA-BA-BAM…

The Refec goes nuts.

A few minutes later, winding past my position by the house lights, and on his way downstairs to the dressing room, Iggy gave me a hard, friendly punch in the chest. And a big grin.

“Betcha the best fucking gig we ever played, Andy!”

Iggy Pop – Wild Man of Rock. And an absolute poppet.

The same could not be said of Bob Geldof…

 

Do Share this extract if you enjoyed it. And get the whole book, via the BUY THE BOOK link on top menu bar, for just £6.29…

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