Jonathan Chait

The Doors In Ann Arbor

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Great story about a 1967 homecoming concert gone very wrong:

Then it was time for the Doors, who took the stage to enthusiastic applausebut without singer Jim Morrison. The other three band members launched into the opening riff of their song "Soul Kitchen," which they proceeded to play over and over while everyone waited for Morrison to appear.

After a while it started to get uncomfortable," says Fred LaBour. "There was scattered booing." LaBour recalls that the band withdrew and then returned about half an hour later, this time accompanied by their charismatic bad-boy vocalist, who seemed in no condition to be on stage. "Morrison could barely stand up. He was practically falling on his face every few moments."

The Long Island Sound's Steve Welkom, who had stayed to hear the Doors, remembers Morrison lurching up to the microphone and making weird sounds that the audience soon realized were wordsand that the words were f-bombs.

"At the time it was kind of an outrageous thing to say," explains Welkom. "The girls started to blush, and guys were putting their hands over the girls' ears. These were guys with crew cuts. They were football players. It wasn't the hippest dance you could possibly imagine."

There was, however, an important post-script to the debacle:

At least one person in the crowd thought differently, howevera U-M dropout named Jim Osterberg, who had recently started his own rock band. Like most others, Osterberg watched in astonishment as Morrison stumbled around the stage, making strange noises, swearing, and generally antagonizing the audience. Except instead of being annoyed by the singer's behavior, Osterberg thought it was cool.

Inspired by what he had witnessed, the former member of the Ann Arbor High debate team adopted the nom de guerre of Iggy Pop, and with his band the Stooges went on to alter rock and roll history. His outrageous onstage antics and heedless, often belligerent attitude toward his fansas well as his apparent lack of musical abilityhelped encourage a generation of young rebels to pick up guitars and launch the punk rock phenomenon of the late '70s.

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