Christopher Sebela

writer, wronger, rearranger

It is Saturday, July 5, 1969, a clear, balmy day in Pottawattamie Beach, and as the Stooges finish their opening number, the brilliantly lame-brained “1969,” Iggy Stooge looks blankly at the Saugatuck festival audience and announces, “I’d like to dedicate the set today to Brian Jones, the dead Stone. Oh well, being dead’s better than playing here.”

As they battle their way through their set, perhaps a quarter of the audience — high school dropouts, a smattering of intellectuals, assorted misfits — is entranced, the remainder indifferent or actively hostile. One fan, Cub Koda of the band Brownsville Station, stands by the side of the stage to admire the spectacle of the free-form feedback-saturated jam that closes out their twenty minute performance. As uncontrollable shrieks squeal out of the PA stacks, Dave Alexander takes the neck of his Mosrite bass and jams it into the gap between two Marshall cabinets, then starts to hump them. Ron Asheton, in aviator shades and a leather jacket, tosses his Fender Stratocaster to the stage; it moans and howls as he bends the whammy bar with his foot. Drummer Rock Action pounds out a Bo Diddley jungle rhythm on his tomtoms before suddenly losing the beat and, in a fit of childish frustration, starts kicking over the kit.

Iggy Stooge, meanwhile, simply writhes on the floor, in what looks like some shamanic trance, or even an asthma attack, blood trickling from his bottom lip where he’s smacked himself with the microphone. 

Koda looks on, entranced, as Iggy leans over and starts to throw up in the middle of the stage, when suddenly he senses someone leaning behind him, trying to get a better view. He glances behind and sees that it’s Muddy Waters, the grand patriarch of Chicago blues, who will be playing the headlining set in a couple of hours. 

Muddy watches, fascinated and perhaps appalled, for a few seconds. Then he shakes his head, points at the stage and shouts over the feedback: “I don’t like that. Those boys need to get themselves an act!” 

"Muddy!" laughs Cub. "That is the act!”

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