This Ain’t No CBGB

Several blocks uptown on Bowery (and notably, north of Houston), Target opened its new East Village location with a temporary storefront emulating that of the long shuttered “birthplace of punk,” CBGB.

Playful homage or sacrilege? Personally, I think it’s the former, but many, including the blog Jeremiah’s Vanishing New Yorkbelieved, “they have committed what might be the most deplorable commodification of local neighborhood culture I’ve ever witnessed.”*

Has punk rock become so sacred that it is now heresy to toy with one of its historical sites? How un-punk is that?

It’s not like CBGB itself has not long commodified itself. Just months after closing CBGB at 315 Bowery in late 2006, owner Hilly Kristal opened a storefront a few blocks away at 23 St. Marks Place to sell CBGB merchandise, including the ubiquitous CBGB t shirts, along with baby bibs, doggie clothes and even shower curtains. In 2005, the last full year the club was open, Kristal sold over $3 million of merchandise. (I have my t-shirt, bought at a friend’s band’s gig there, and belt buckle, bought long after it closed.) Although retaining the outward appearance of a historical marker, the current CBGB website exists primarily to sell club merch (alas, the shower curtains are no longer available).

Cue the outrage, even from the Old Gray Lady, hardly an early supporter, never mentioning CBGB, or even punk rock, until 1980, long after the club opened in 1973 and started booking (soon to be labeled) punk bands in 1974.

But wait, there’s more! Kristal initially planned to move CBGB, lock, stock and urinal, to Las Vegas:

We want to take a lot of this stuff with us, and I think we’re going to move to Las Vegas. . . . [The Vegas CBGB] won’t be the same size or the same shape, but I am going to have all the things that matter there. I am taking the bars with me, I am taking the stage — I’m taking the urinal that Joey [Ramone] pissed in with me. I’m going to take a lot of things — anything that makes this place CBGB.

I’ll make it CBGB, and even more so.

The simulacrum would become more real than the real.

That never happened. Instead, John Varvatos moved into 315 Bowery, preserving, under glass, the club’s, let’s call it, “distressed” decor.

The urinal ended up in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s New York Annex, just outside the museum’s real bathroom. Marcel Duchamp must be smiling.

I’m not sure where the fixture ended up after the Annex closed just over a year later.

Has anyone checked the restrooms at Newark Airport, where the CBGB LAB (Lounge and Bar) opened in 2015?

(Gotta love the generic EDM-lite Holt Construction Corp chose to showcase their recreated punk club.)

The bar and lounge has got a pretty lousy Yelp rating. How punk!

That’s a pretty amazing legacy for a club that never intended to book punk rock in the first place. Those initials on those CBGB OMFUG t-shirts stand for Country, BlueGrass, Blues, and Other Music for Uplifting Gourmandizers.

In an upcoming post I will look at the idea of punk in museums overall.


* Target played it safe and issued an apology:

We often host a one-day celebration that shows the neighborhood how excited we are to be part of their community. We sincerely apologize if some eventgoers felt it was not the best way to capture the spirit of the neighborhood. We always appreciate guest feedback and will take it into consideration as we plan for future opening events.

Salon des Refusés: T. Rex

In 1863, the Salon des Refusés was launched to counter the conservative aesthetics enforced by the Academy of Fine Arts in the annual Paris Salon. That year, the “rejects” included such later revered painters as Manet, Courbet, Whistler, Pissarro and Cezanne. Perhaps it is now time to establish a Salon des Refusés for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame‘s rejects.

The rules of eligibility for induction to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame include:

Besides demonstrating unquestionable musical excellence and talent, inductees will have had a significant impact on the development, evolution and preservation of rock & roll.

And yet many artists who have had huge impacts on the development and evolution of rock & roll have been snubbed over and over, including: Kraftwerk, Chic, Big Star, Roxy Music, Brian Eno, New York Dolls, T. Rex, Television, The Slits, X-Ray Spex, Sonic Youth, Joy Division.

Technically, T. Rex is nothing but a “one hit wonder” in the United States:

However, the band’s leader, Marc Bolan, was a full blown teen idol in the U.K. And his band’s influence has been huge on both sides of the pond. Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductees Blondie covered that “one hit,” “Bang A Gong (Get It On).”* In Shock & Awe: Glam Rock and Its Legacy, from the Seventies to the Twenty-First Century, Simon Reynolds declares Electric Warrior, the album on which the hit originally appeared: “Bolan’s finest album by far, an almost perfect platter” (p. 58). Every serious collection of rock music should contain Electric Warrior. Maybe I should delete the word “serious,” since that is one of the criticisms so often thrown at T. Rex and other groups that appeal to young girls: They aren’t serious! As if serious is, or should he, a defining characteristic of rock.

T. Rex began in the late ’60s as the very serious Tyrannosaurus Rex, which played faerie music, as in music about faeries, and dragons and unicorns inhabiting ancient Albion. To tell the truth, I’ve listened to very little of that dinosaur music, really just the last album released under the name in 1970, A Beard of Stars. Replacing Steve Peregrin Took with Micky Finn on percussion began the shift from progressive folk albums to hooky pop-rock singles:

The follow-up, T. Rex, may have abbreviated the band’s name, but the songs were still about wizards and seagull women. The new sound was fully realized on the following, non-LP single “Ride A White Swan,” which reached a whole new audience . . .

. . .  which Bolan consolidated on 1971’s essential Electric Warrior:

This album taught Joan Jett, leader of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductees Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, how to rock:

My mother bought me a cheap Sears electric with a little Gibson amp which cost twenty dollars for the combination. I took lessons for about a month. The guy kept trying to teach me ‘On Top Of Old Smokey’ but I wanted to learn to play rock and roll. So I went home and played with my records in my room. I really taught myself. I’d set up the stereo and amp and tuned my guitar to whatever song I wanted to play. I’d play things like T-Rex songs off the Electric Warrior album, or ‘Honky-Tonk Woman’ really loud. I was thirteen, fourteen years old.

The following album, The Slider, is almost as good. As Johnny Marr attests:

The influence of T-Rex is very profound on certain songs of The Smiths i.e. ‘Panic’ and ‘Shoplifters.’ Morrissey was himself also mad about Bolan. When we wrote ‘Panic’ . . .

. . . he was obsessed with ‘Metal Guru’ and wanted to sing in the same style. He didn’t stop singing it in an attempt to modify the words of ‘Panic’ to fit the exact rhythm of ‘Metal Guru.’ . . .

. . . He also exhorted me to use the same guitar break so that the two songs are the same!!!”

Bauhaus covered “Telegram Sam” from the album and Alejandro Escovedo named his one-off side project Buick Mackane. Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductees Guns N’ Roses covered the song with that title.

T. Rex, along with other British Glam Rock bands that followed in its wake, was a major influence on L.A.’s hair metal scene.

There were a few more great singles, like “Children of the Revolution” . . .

. . . and “20th Century Boy,” . . .

. . . which has been covered by Def Leppard, The Replacements, Placebo and Siouxsie and the Banshees, but these were followed by a very steep decline that ended with the fatal car crash that took Bolan’s life.**

The music has lived on, though, in covers like The Bongos‘ “Mambo Sun” . . .

. . . and Portugal, The Man‘s “Main Man,” . . .

. . . along with the many bands directly influenced by Bolan’s glam sound, such as Opal . . .

. . . David Vandervelde on his The Moonstation House Band album, Butch Walker and the Let’s Go Out Tonites and Louis XIV:

If, as Anton S. Trees has written, “Louis XIV don’t wear their influences on their collective sleeve; you’d need an entire fucking wardrobe to fit them all there,” T. Rex would take up major space in that closet.

T. Rex centrality is acknowledged in a hit song Bolan’s friend and rival, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductee David Bowie, gifted Mott the Hoople to revive their moribund career, “All the Young Dudes”:

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductees The Who also paid homage to “the sound of old T. Rex” in “You Better You Bet,” . . .

. . . as did Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductees R.E.M. in “The Wake-Up Bomb,” where Michael Stipe sings of practicing his “T. Rex moves”:

T. Rex surely deserves to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, both for its “unquestionable musical excellence” and its “significant impact on the development, evolution and preservation of rock & roll.”

If not, clearly, “it’s a rip off”:


* Well, that’s the song’s title in the U.S., where “Get It On” was changed to “Bang a Gong (Get It On)” in order to avoid confusion with a then-recent, but now largely forgotten minor hit, “Get It On” by Chase:

** Although many of Marc Bolan’s songs focused on cars, he never learned to drive. His girlfriend Gloria Jones was driving the purple Mini when it crashed on September 16, 1977. It was not until very recently that I realized this was the same Gloria Jones who sang the original 1964 version of “Tainted Love,” . . .

. . . which would later be covered by so many others, including Marc Almond of Soft Cell, who was inspired to change the K in his first name to C, just like his idol Mark Feld had when he became Marc Bolan.

Salon des Refusés: Big Star

In 1863, the Salon des Refusés was launched to counter the conservative aesthetics enforced by the Academy of Fine Arts in the annual Paris Salon. That year, the “rejects” included such later revered painters as Manet, Courbet, Whistler, Pissarro and Cezanne. Perhaps it is now time to establish a Salon des Refusés for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame‘s rejects.

The rules of eligibility for induction to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame include:

Besides demonstrating unquestionable musical excellence and talent, inductees will have had a significant impact on the development, evolution and preservation of rock & roll.

And yet many artists who have had huge impacts on the development and evolution of rock & roll have been snubbed over and over, including: Kraftwerk, Chic, Big Star, Roxy Music, Brian Eno, New York Dolls, T. Rex, Television, The Slits, X-Ray Spex, Sonic Youth, Joy Division.

Big Star is pretty much the definition of a cult band, not very well known, but absolutely worshiped by its fans, including many much better known rockers such as The Replacements, The Bangles, and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductees R.E.M.

If you are not (yet!) a fan you may still have heard at least one of their songs. “In the Streets” was the opening theme for That ’70s Show . . .

. . .  but it was performed by Todd Griffin in the first season and Cheap Trick in the other seven. Here is Big Star’s own, complete version of that Alex Chilton-Chris Bell composition:

As you can easily hear, Big Star kind of merged the sounds of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductees The Beatles and The Byrds. However, since The Byrds were also influenced by The Beatles, Big Star tilted just a bit more towards the invading Brits. Alex Chilton and Chris Bell modeled themselves on the Lennon-McCartney partnership, but filtered the band’s music through their native Memphis sensibility, as can be heard in songs such as “The Ballad of El Goodo”:

Big Star quickly became critics’ darlings, but rave reviews never translated into sales (at least partially due to marketing and distribution problems which made the record very hard to find). Many remain befuddled as to why the album did not live up to its title, #1 Record, and turn the band’s name into fact instead of irony (by the way, the name was not purely hubris; they named themselves after a Memphis area supermarket chain).

Chris Bell left the band after the first album out of frustration. He struggled with depression the rest of his short life, but continued to record music. Just one single, “You and Your Sister,” . . .

. . . was released, and then only on an obscure indie label, shortly before a fatal car crash earned him entrance into the notorious 27 Club in 1978. Compiled from his solo recordings, Bell’s I Am the Cosmos album was hailed upon its release 14 years later.

Alex Chilton, Andy Hummel and Jody Stephens labored on. Some consider their next album, Radio City, even better than the first, possibly a perfect pop-rock album.

It opens with “Oh My Soul” . . .

. . . (does that riff make you want to “cut loose, footloose, kick off your Sunday shoes”?), continues with “Back of a Car” . . .

. . .  and ends with “I’m in Love with a Girl”:

And then there were two, when Andy Hummel left the band shortly before the album’s release.

In many ways, Big Star’s 3rd (later reissued as Sister Lovers, the band name Chilton and Stephens briefly adopted at this time) is actually an Alex Chilton solo album. It contains the beautiful chamber pop of “Stroke It Noel” . . .

. . .  and the amazing sound design of “Kanga Roo,” . . .

. . . but the album was never finished.

Although recorded in late 1974 and early 1975, 3rd was not officially released until 1978, by which time its creators had long since moved on. The album has been reissued a number of times since, each time with a slightly different title and a completely different track listing (most recently as the three disc Complete Third, which follows every track from its rough beginnings to its final masters).

Alex Chilton had already been a “big star” as the 16 year old singer for The Box Tops, whose first single, “The Letter,” was a #1 hit in 1967:

This brush with stardom left Chilton deeply ambivalent about success. Big Star’s lack of recognition (at least during its lifetime) led to an even deeper withdrawal from the “star-maker machinery behind the popular song.” Chilton would spend the rest of his life dodging fame, sometimes engaging in what others might consider self-sabotage. He followed his own idiosyncratic interests, producing records by outsiders such as The Cramps and Tav Falco‘s Panther Burns, even briefly joining the latter band as a lowly sideman, and releasing a string of increasingly eccentric solo records.

Of course, this just endeared him more to his cult followers, who congratulated themselves for recognizing their leader’s perverse genius. His fans can, and do, debate whether albums such as Like Flies on Sherbert (sic) or Live in London are masterpieces or disasters (or both), but only a devoted fan would ever care enough to sit through all of either one. For anyone else, a single compilation culling the worthy tracks scattered across his vast solo discography should suffice. But even as Chilton was digging himself deeper into obscurity, his Big Star was rising.

Brian Eno famously said of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductees The Velvet Underground, “I was talking to Lou Reed the other day and he said that the first Velvet Underground record sold 30,000 copies in the first five years. . . . I think everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band! So I console myself thinking that some things generate their rewards in a second-hand way.”

The same could be said of Big Star.

Big Star helped lay the foundation for a whole strain of indie power pop (along with The Velvet Underground, whose “Femme Fatale” Big Star covered). Chris Stamey played bass behind Alex Chilton in 1977. By the following year, he, Peter Holsapple, Will Rigby and Gene Holder would be spreading the gospel of Big Star in their new “jangle pop” band, The dB’s:

R.E.M. recorded in Memphis’s Ardent Studios because Big Star produced all of their records there, and released a cover of 3rd‘s “Jesus Christ” as a 2002 fan club single:

Big Star’s sound also resonated through L.A.’s “Paisley Underground” bands. The Bangles recorded Big Star’s “September Gurls”:

Apparently Katy Perry spelled “California Gurls” with a U in honor of Alex Chilton’s then-recent death.

The Replacements recorded the homage “Alex Chilton” while their hero was still alive:

As Paul Westerberg sings: “I never travel far, without a little Big Star.”

Big Star’s legacy certainly traveled far, though. In his essay “The Great Crusade: Birthing The Cult Of Big Star,” included in the book for the Big Star box set Keep an Eye on the Sky, Bob Mehr wrote:

Meanwhile, on the other side of the pond, Scottish rockers Teenage Fanclub released their widely acclaimed masterpiece Bandwagonesque — an album so in thrall to Chilton, Bell, and company that some critics have taken to calling it ‘Big Star’s 4th.’

You can understand why when listening to such tributes as “Star Sign” and “Alcoholiday”:

Teenage Fanclub named its next album, their fourth album, Thirteen after the wistful Big Star song:

Big Star surely deserves to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, both for its “unquestionable musical excellence” and its “significant impact on the development, evolution and preservation of rock & roll.”

Salon des Refusés: Chic

In 1863, the Salon des Refusés was launched to counter the conservative aesthetics enforced by the Academy of Fine Arts in the annual Paris Salon. That year, the “rejects” included such later revered painters as Manet, Courbet, Whistler, Pissarro and Cezanne. Perhaps it is now time to establish a Salon des Refusés for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame‘s rejects.

The rules of eligibility for induction to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame include:

Besides demonstrating unquestionable musical excellence and talent, inductees will have had a significant impact on the development, evolution and preservation of rock & roll.

And yet many artists who have had huge impacts on the development and evolution of rock & roll have been snubbed over and over, including: Kraftwerk, Chic, Big Star, Roxy Music, Brian Eno, New York Dolls, T. Rex, Television, The Slits, X-Ray Spex, Sonic Youth, Joy Division.

This year, Nile Rodgers will be honored with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s Award for Musical Excellence, presumably for his work on records by everyone from Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductees Diana Ross (as part of The Supremes), Madonna and David Bowie to Sister Sledge, Duran Duran and Daft Punk. And yet, Chic, the band Rodgers formed with Bernard Edwards, has been overlooked yet again. Always a nominee (11 times), never an inductee.

It’s understandable why Rodgers finds this a bit disconcerting:

It’s sort of bittersweet. I’m a little perplexed because even though I’m quite flattered that they believed that I was worthy, my band Chic didn’t win. They plucked me out of the band and said, “You’re better than Chic.” That’s wacky to me. The only reason why I met Bowie and Madonna and Duran Duran and INXS is because they all loved Chic.

Chic‘s biggest hit was “Le Freak”:

What began as a bitter response to being denied entrance to the notoriously exclusive Studio 54, even though headliner Grace Jones had invited them, “Le Freak” would become one of disco’s defining songs after the “fuck off” chorus was changed to “freak out.”

But the band’s most influential track was certainly “Good Times”:

It would later be appropriated* as the backing track for Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight,” arguably the first true rap record:

And with only the slightest of modifications, it became the bass line for Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductees Queen‘s “Another One Bites the Dust”:

As Chic’s bass player Bernard Edwards explained:

Well, that Queen record came about because that bass player… spent some time hanging out with us at our studio. But that’s O.K. What isn’t O.K. is that the press… started saying that we had ripped them off! Can you believe that? ‘Good Times’ came out more than a year before, but it was inconceivable to these people that black musicians could possibly be innovative like that. It was just these dumb disco guys ripping off this rock ‘n’ roll song.

And that may explain why Chic has not been welcomed into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Chic played disco. And disco has never gotten the respect it deserves. Especially in 1979.

At the height of the “Disco Sucks” movement, DJ Steve Dahl organized the “Disco Demolition” between games of a baseball double-header at Chicago’s Comiskey Park (well, it was supposed to be between games, but the second game was forfeited after rioting tore up the field).

It is hard to miss the racism and, especially, homophobia inherent in the anti-disco movement, which pitted “gay” dance music against “manly” rock and roll. (Richard Dyer wrote a well argued “In Defence of Disco” at the time, but an article in Gay Left, a British “socialist journal produced by gay men,” was not likely to be read by, much less persuade this crowd.)

And that is the social context in which Rodgers and Edwards wrote and produced the Diana album. They were aware of the anthemic possibilities of the song “I’m Coming Out,” . . .

. . . but Rodgers claims they downplayed that reading of the song to “Miss Ross”:

We went to this transvestite club but everyone went there. I went to the bathroom and I happened to notice on either side there were a bunch of Diana Ross impersonators. I ran outside and called Bernard and told him about it and said, ‘What if we recognize Diana Ross’s really cool alignment with her fan base in the gay community?’ So we sat down and wrote, ‘I’m Coming Out.’ Meanwhile Diana took a rough mix to the top DJ in the country who hated it and she came back really down in the dumps and she asked us, ‘Why are you trying to ruin my career?’ She asked us point blank if this was a gay record and if people were going to think she was gay. It’s the only time in my life I’ve ever lied to an artist. I looked her straight in the eye and said, ‘Are you kidding?’

The Motown diva was still hesitant, though, and the song was remixed before it was released, downplaying the disco horns and chicka-chicka guitar, accentuating the drums, and shortening the intro before her vocals come in:

Still an amazing song, but a bit less disco.

There was a time I, too, thought “disco sucks,” but Chic, along with Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Donna Summer‘s “I Feel Love,” unlocked the groove for me, leading me to finally hear the similarities between disco and other repetitive music I appreciated by “serious” musicians like Steve Reich, Neu!, Suicide and Spacemen 3. I realized the distinction between “listening music” that appealed to the mind and “dance music” that appealed to the body was an artificial and elitist distinction. Plus, what’s so bad about appealing to the body anyway?

My girlfriend at the time I was reacquainting myself with disco and filling in the large gap in my music collection claimed to hate disco, yet even she loved “At Last I Am Free” when I played it without telling her it was Chic:

Chic surely deserves to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, both for its “unquestionable musical excellence” and its “significant impact on the development, evolution and preservation of rock & roll.”


* Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards had to sue for co-writing credit, the first of several battles involving the song: many corroborate early South Bronx MC Grandmaster Caz’s claim that the song’s lyrics were stolen from him and two past members have sued so they can use the name Sugarhill Gang, along with the all too usual fights over royalties.

Salon des Refusés: Kraftwerk

In 1863, the Salon des Refusés was launched to counter the conservative aesthetics enforced by the Academy of Fine Arts in the annual Paris Salon. That year, the “rejects” included such later revered painters as Manet, Courbet, Whistler, Pissarro and Cezanne. Perhaps it is now time to establish a Salon des Refusés for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame‘s rejects.

The rules of eligibility for induction to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame include:

Besides demonstrating unquestionable musical excellence and talent, inductees will have had a significant impact on the development, evolution and preservation of rock & roll.

And yet many artists who have had huge impacts on the development and evolution of rock & roll have been snubbed over and over, including: Kraftwerk, Chic, Big Star, Roxy Music, Brian Eno, New York Dolls, T. Rex, Television, The Slits, X-Ray Spex, Sonic Youth, Joy Division.

Kraftwerk is arguably the most influential group in popular music since Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductees The Beatles. In order to craft a more European rock sound, many of the late ’70s and ’80s new wave and synth pop artists like Eurythmics, Ultravox, Gary Numan and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark turned to Kraftwerk, . . .

. . . Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductee David Bowie‘s “Berlin Trilogy,” which was also greatly influenced by Kraftwerk and other Krautrock bands (reinforcing their influence secondhand), and Roxy Music (though in that case it might have been as much Bryan Ferry’s visual style as the band’s music).

The robotic Germans . . .

. . . also begat some of the most dominant post-rock genres, so they may have actually been more influential than the Fab Four, whose British empire did not shine far beyond rock and pop.

Afrika Bambaataa and the Soul Sonic Force’s trendsetting early hip hop 12″ “Planet Rock” . . .

. . . mashed up two Kraftwerk songs, “Trans Europe Express” . . .

. . . and “Numbers.”

Pretty much all of electro grew from “Planet Rock”‘s roots.

Derrick May (AKA Rhythim is Rhythim), generally regarded as the creator of techno music, famously described the genre’s sound as “The music is just like Detroit, a complete mistake. It’s like George Clinton and Kraftwerk are stuck in an elevator with only a sequencer to keep them company.”

Sure, it could be argued that hip hop, electro and techno are distinct, non-rock genres, so much of Kraftwerk’s “significant impact” falls outside of rock & roll. However, the Hall of Fame has been very inclusive in their past use of the label. The brick and mortar (actually, more glass and concrete) Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is currently hosting an exhibition titled “The Roots and Definition of Rock & Roll,” which is introduced on the website with the following statement:

Each year, with the announcement of the next class of nominees for induction, a debate swirls as to what music is consider ‘rock and roll.’

The debate really flared up when rappers began being inducted, including Tupac in the latest batch. In response to the 2016 induction of N.W.A., Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductees KISS‘s Gene Simmons said, “[I] respect N.W.A, but when Led Zep gets into Rap Hall of Fame, I will agree with your point.” (That is one of the more polite things Simmons said.)  The Induction Process page now prominently features this pull quote from Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductees N.W.A.’s Ice Cube’s acceptance speech:

Rock & roll is not an instrument; rock & roll is not even a style of music. Rock & roll is a spirit. … It’s been going since the blues, jazz, bebop, soul, R&B, rock & roll, heavy metal, punk rock and, yes, hip-hop. And what connects us all is that spirit. …Rock & roll is not conforming to the people who came before you, but creating your own path in music and in life.

In the mind of the Hall of Fame, “rock & roll” clearly refers to popular music associated with rebellious youth, both as creators and consumers. Which means Kraftwerk surely deserves to be honored, both for its “unquestionable musical excellence” and its “significant impact on the development, evolution and preservation of rock & roll.”

Jimi Hendrix: From FBI File to US Stamp

Mick Jagger ended his Rock & Roll Hall of Fame acceptance speech by quoting French filmmaker, novelist, playwright, etc., Jean Cocteau:

Americans are funny people. First you shock them, then they put you in a museum.”

Or on a stamp.

The FBI opened a file on Jimi Hendrix shortly after his 1969 drug bust in Toronto.  Now, 45 years later, the United States Post Office has put the legendary guitarist on a stamp:


The stamp has also been issued in a full sheet that looks like a record sleeve:

Hendrix is the fourth in the Post Office’s “Music Icons” series, following Tejano music star Lydia Mendoza, country music legend Johnny Cash and soul music innovator Ray Charles.

ps — many old FBI files are now accessible through The Vault, including those of many popular culture figures, from alleged gangster Frank Sinatra to gangsta rapper “Biggie Smalls.”  The Bureau was particularly active in investigating 1960s rock and roll.  They even spent 20 months, documented in a 119 page file, trying to figure out whether the Kingsmen’s recording of “Louie Louie” violated laws against the interstate transport of obscene materials; they never did decipher the lyrics.