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40 Years Ago: Iggy & the Stooges Record ‘Metallic K.O.’ Show

Skydog Records

One of rock’s most harrowing and authentically violent recorded documents was captured live 40 years ago today when Iggy and the Stooges unknowingly committed their last will and testament to tape (as an active ’70s band, anyway) by performing the show that would go down in infamy as ‘Metallic K.O.’

Almost from the very start of The Stooges’ controversial career, singer Iggy Pop had been redefining the role of rock frontman: from eager-to-please entertainer to caustic provocateur, gleefully antagonizing unsuspecting audiences that failed to grasp the wanton debauchery and sheer aggression of his band’s proto-punk assault.

Even so, this combustible artist/audience interaction would reach historic heights on the night of February 9, 1974, whereupon the fast disintegrating Stooges made their final concert stand at Detroit’s Michigan Palace before a particularly hostile crowd.

As the story goes, days earlier, Iggy had taken to local radio airwaves to denounce a local biker gang for causing trouble at an earlier Stooges gigs; vociferously offending them as only he knew how, and probably giving little thought to the prospect that they could well come back for more.

And that’s precisely what they did, that fateful Thursday, spearheading the hostile crowd into pelting Iggy, guitarist James Williamson and the sibling rhythm section of Ron and Scott Asheton with ice, coins, beer bottles … pretty much any projectile they could lay their hands on.

For their part, the tough nut Stooges pushed through their reliably loud, loose and ragged selection of future classics (including ‘Raw Power’ and ‘Gimme Danger’), obscure latter-day originals (‘Head On,’ ‘Cock in My Pocket’), and even ‘Louie Louie,’ with their usual disregard for life and limb.

But when a typically reckless and inebriated Iggy decided to jump off the stage and face one of the bikers head on, the songs recorded for posterity that night became “enhanced” with the less familiar sounds of him getting his ass kicked by the angry mob!

As the remaining Stooges looked and played on (for a time, at least), their fearless leader was efficiently beaten to a pulp and finally knocked out, so that his rock and roll sacrifice could duly give its name to ‘Metallic K.O.’

Thus was born another major piece of Iggy Pop lore. While the Stooges would not play another concert until 2003, one can at least say their original, criminally underrated career run was nailed shut with a bang (or two, or several), instead of a whimper.

That, my friends, is what punk rock legends are made of…

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