“Why build an audience for the Ramones or the Pistols or the Clash? Why institutionalize them if they’re just going to be destroyed, if it’s their nature to destroy others and to destroy themselves?”
I have no idea how Iggy Pop is alive.
It took Bowie’s death to remind me that I’d wanted to read this book for years. I was not disappointed….this was a wild ride. I was hooked from the opening two paragraphs, where we start off with Lou Reed and the formation of the Velvet Underground. The book moves on to Iggy and the Stooges, the New York Dolls, the Ramones, and touches on the Sex Pistols and the British punk scene.
As the title promises, this is an oral history…each chapter is a collection of excerpts from decades of interviews with the main players in the American punk scene. The chapters move in chronological order, but the huge cast of characters makes it a bit hard to track, especially if you “meet” someone in the early chapters and then don’t hear from them again for a period of years. Thankfully, there’s a handy list of bios in the back so you can keep everyone straight.
I know nothing about punk, so as a non-fan I can still say that I thoroughly enjoyed this history lesson. Nothing is held back about the trysts and drug use. I find the music culture of the early seventies fascinating…the way in which these people became legends is insanely streamlined compared to what people go through today. My favorite passage concerned Iggy and the Stooges’ first gig and their creativity in the face of a lack of instruments. And I honestly have no idea how any of them are alive (most aren’t). Everyone was sleeping with everyone, no drug stone lay unturned, no regard for personal safety ever seemed to come into play.
While the structure took some adjusting, this is a solid recommendation for fans of rock, countercultures, or really seedy stories.
4 stars out of 5.