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This programme contains very strong language.
In 1967, the Motor City was burning. The biggest riot in American history erupted in Detroit.
# Calling out... #
The riot wasn't the only revolution going on. The '60s saw Detroit create wave after wave of music,
that would capture the sound of a nation in upheaval.
# ..For dancing... #
In the early '60s, an aspirational record label would transcend Detroit's inner city,
to take black music to a national audience.
Once Motown became a major, major player,
the music industry, well, that also put Detroit more on the map.
People in the town were just so proud.
If they'd go to California or New York, they'd say, "Where you from?"
"I'm from Motown." They wouldn't say Detroit, they'd say Motown.
And in the late '60s, a bunch of surburban kids
would descend into the inner city, to create revolutionary rock
that expressed the rage of young, white America.
We wanted to rewrite society.
We wanted to build it from the ground up.
Just tear everything down and start over.
On the one hand we were serious political revolutionaries who wanted to overthrow the government,
on the other hand we were on acid!
Kick out the jams, motherfucker. They were, like, the ones we all got branded by.
Detroit, in the '60s, was a city on fire.
In the recording industry, there is a hot town.
And when one good thing happens,
They will swoop in from the coasts.
In the '60s, Detroit had its moment.
# ..So messed up
# I want you here... #
A Midwestern blue collar city.
Known as the Motor City since the '20s,
Detroit is the hard-working home of the American car industry.
# Well, my mother loved me... #
In the economically-prosperous '50s, four out of five cars in the world
were made in the USA.
Detroit became the city where they built the American Dream.
# She had to stay out all night long... #
This was the manufacturing centre of America and, thus, the world.
And if you wanted it built, we built it in Detroit.
# ..in the town, people
# I was walking down Hazel Street... #
Detroit, as a city, was a great city.
Er, it was a booming city.
You had a lot of people who migrated.
# I 'cided I'd drop in there that night
# When I got there... #
There were lots of factories there that had attracted
many black families from the south.
# They was really havin' a ball... #
Fuelled by migrant job seekers,
the city's population swelled to a record two million.
One of whom would become Detroit's first musical star.
ANNOUNCER: From Mississippi, it's that famous boom-boom boy,
John Lee Hooker.
Chicago was the home from home for southern blues men,
but John Lee Hooker bypassed the Windy City, in favour of its less glamourous neighbour.
# Boom boom boom boom
# I'm gonna shoot you right down
# Right offa your feet
# Take yer home with me
# Put yer in my house
# Boom boom boom boom... #
Hooker came to Detroit in 1948 looking for a job
and found one at the Ford Motor Company.
# When you're talkin' to me
# That baby talk... #
He passed through Detroit like so many working folk,
working their way up Highway 61, the famous highway Dylan memorialised,
which was basically the artery from the south up to the Midwest
and I think Hooker represents this kind of migratory spirit.
# Wa-a-a-a-a-a, babe... #
The southern disposessed, looking for a new life.
# Yes, ma'am... #
John Lee did for the blues, what nobody else was doing at the time.
He brought it out and with his style of music,
it was not traditional blues that he was playing,
it was different and it made everybody listen.
It just turned the blues scene around, in the city of Detroit.
Blues is such a three-chord thing.
His only had one!
It was like the drone. It was all rhythm.
You know, start the thump going.
John Lee Hooker's primitive style would become a benchmark for Detroit rock 'n' rollers.
But the next factory worker to put his stamp on music
would transform American pop.
Berry Gordy Jr worked briefly for the same car manufacturer as John Lee Hooker.
He took inspiration from his time on the line to set up a record label
with its sights on young America.
# The best things in life are free
# But you can give them to the birds and bees
# I need mo-o-o-ney
-# I need mo-o-o-ney
-That's what I want... #
The idea for an assembly line, starting with a frame
and ending up a brand-new shining car, was just fascinating to me.
# That's what I want
# That's what I want. #
So, when I started my operation, that's what I wanted.
A kid to come in off the street one door, an unknown person, and out another door a star.
Is there a letter In your bag for me?
# Please, please, Mr Po-o-ostman
Cos it's been a mighty long time
Since I've heard From this boyfriend of mine
# There must be some word today... #
Working out of his inner city home, Gordy named Motown after Detroit.
Like a production line, Motown sought to create pop records
that had a uniform sound.
# ..A letter for me
# I was standing here waiting Mr Postman... #
There was something about the first three or four records
that came out of Motown.
You didn't tie 'em together right away, but after a while -
Please, Mr Postman, My Guy.
Shop around and you realise, "Oh, there's something about these records."
You could tell, "Oh, these records are from the same place."
Gordy built Motown by exercising complete artistic control.
The acts had no say, as The Supremes,
a girl group from Detroit's Brewster project, would find out.
When Where Did Our Love Go? was brought to us...
..we said, "That doesn't seem like it's gonna be a hit,
"and we need a hit."
Give a little better feeling on those guitar fingers.
Also, the piano could add a little more...
We got them to do it. Although they were shattered - they hated it.
This didn't sound like a hit. You know, it was just hand clapping.
"Baby, Baby..." It was so simple.
# ...Baby don't leave me
# Oh, please don't leave me
# All by myself... #
you know, pissed off attitude about...
She was definitely letting you know she didn't like this song!
# Ooh, deep inside me... #
But it was just what the song needed.
# ..hurts so bad
# You came into my heart now... #
That was the first, Where Did Our Love Go?
13 number one songs that we alone, we wrote them.
Consecutive, one after the other. Bam, bam, bam...
# Nowhere to run to, baby... #
In-house song writers, Holland, Dozier, Holland were the engine that drove Motown.
They could even turn company secretary Martha Reeves
into a pop star at Ford, where Berry Gordy had worked.
He took us to the Ford Motor Company.
And no-one knew we were coming. The workers were saying,
"Get those women out, we're working!"
But the cars were being made and I don't think anyone else will ever have that privilege.
# ..I go
# Your face I see
# Every step I take
# You take... #
These guys were actually welding the fenders on
and putting the screws in the different places
and we were getting on and off of this car and we watched it go from start to finish
singing Nowhere To Run.
We got spray-painted! We almost got tripped by cords, wires and things.
# ..I know you're no good for me... #
It was a Mustang. And it was a wonderful experience.
# Each night as I sleep... #
I think that for Detroiters,
Motown was like the car industry, you know.
It became a brand that people loved.
And once Motown became a major, major player in the music industry,
that also put Detroit more on the map.
People in the town were just so proud, you know,
about having this place here in town.
"Yeah, I'm from Motown." You know.
They go to California or New York they say, "Where're you from?"
They'd say, "I'm from Motown." They wouldn't say Detroit, they'd say Motown.
# I got sunshine
# On a cloudy day... #
By 1965, Motown had become as its motto boasted,
the sound of young America.
Detroit dominated the mainstream US charts.
# I guess you... #
But Gordy's manufactured pop was not the sound of young, black Detroit.
# ..feel this way
# My girl
My girl... #
The campaign for civil rights had started in earnest in America
and Detroit had seen the largest march in history in 1963,
when Martin Luther King led the great march to freedom.
# I've got a sweeter song
# Than the birds in the trees... #
Black people were beginning to demand more,
but conditions in Detroit's inner city hardly met their expectations.
# ...You say
# What can
# What can make
# What can make me
# What can make me feel
# What can make me feel this
# What can make me feel this way?
# My girl
My girl... #
Overcrowding, unemployment and an aggressive all-white police force
had combined to create a ghetto, that left some inhabitants seething.
REPORTER: Do you hate white people?
Do I hate 'em? Yeah, I hate 'em.
Do you hate white people?
Tried to kill one of 'em.
You did try?
-I say, I would.
-You would try and kill one?
Would you fight white people, would you try and kill white people?
Mm-hmm. All day long.
All of us was caught up in the Motown sound.
I mean, all of us was in love with The Temptations and The Supremes
and The Marvelettes and Smokey Robinson and all that.
We all loved that.
They didn't necessarily voice songs that gave the movement strength,
but we liked them.
We did receive a lot of criticism say, being homogenised.
You know, being too white, or too this, or whatever.
But our, and I remember my brother, who was in Vietnam at the time
was saying, "Mary, why don't you wear an afro?"
You know. "Because that's just not our style."
# ..Baby love
# Oh, baby love... #
Motown's style was to aim for the burgeoning teenage market,
the demographic of youth, white or black.
Berry Gordy had created the world's first cross-over label.
# Baby love
# My baby love
# Why must we separate, my love... #
Berry gets a bad rap, I think, for being too slick
and having his artists too slick.
But people forget the social times, this was a revolutionary thing to do
and this was his way of bringing the audience together
and appealing to a diverse audience,
which really brought blacks and whites together.
If you have... If I sit down with a black woman from Detroit of my age,
we have the same musical taste
and that doesn't happen in a lot of generations.
When I was in high school, black music was your national anthem.
It was local music. Motown and Detroit was...
The singles came out and you went downtown to the Motown Revue
and saw these artists.
# ..but I love yer... #
Those were local anthems and for us it was important in a sense that,
at least for white surburban kids in this pasty surburban life,
This was exoticism. It was...sex.
# You really got a hold on me... #
# You really got a hold
# I... #
Our music was love music.
We knew that music soothed the soul.
We were giving our people what they wanted from us.
# But I need you... #
They stuck with us. The music has lasted
and it's part of history as being a love movement, as opposed to an uprising,
or a protest.
# ..got a hold on me
# You really got
# Oh, yes yer have
# A hold on me
# You really got a hold... #
We're not politicians and we weren't there to try and solve
the world's problems with a song.
You know, because, at best, we were trying to bring people together
with our music, Motown. It was the end of race music, you know.
# Hold me
# Hold me ple-e-e-ase... #
Well, I never thought of it in terms of black or white or answers,
I felt that the emotions of people are the same all over,
and quality is quality, you know.
Whilst Motown was putting inner city Detroit on the world map,
a group of white, working-class surburban kids,
known as The Motor City Five, also hoped to take the world by storm.
We came out of the surburbs. We all came from families that were working-class people,
like, my father started at Ford's in the 1940s.
Our vision was to create a music that hadn't been done before.
# ..Me want to hide... #
And Chuck Berry, probably, was the main influence on the MC5.
# I stood up on the stand
# With my eyes shut tight
# Didn't want to see anybody
# Feelin' happy
# Havin' a good time, now hey
# Doin' all right, doin' all right
# Doin' all right, Doin' all ri-ght... #
England, of course, was the focal point.
The British first wave had revolutionised popular culture.
The Americans were struggling to keep up.
The big American acts, all of a sudden, seemed hopelessly square.
# Run salt into the dancing crowd
# They'll like screaming out loud
# I saw you standin' there
# I saw you alone
# Saw you alone, hey-hey... #
And then New York, as always, had its, um, power.
And Los Angeles, of course, is the other centre, the other pole
of the American recording industry.
But no-one ever considered Detroit as part of that equation.
They were down river boys.
They were guys who lived in the disused parts of Detroit.
The industrial parts.
And, really, when you grew up in Detroit in those areas,
you had one of two ways to go. College wasn't the option.
It was usually, were you gonna work the line, in a tool and dye shop
and how many fingers were you gonna lose by the end of your career?
The MC5 were managed by John Sinclair,
a middle-class bohemian whose artist commune was based in the heart of the inner city.
I wanted to come here to be around the jazz players
and the beatniks and the dope fiends and the people who were not normal!
The young white people that came here, came here on purpose.
They came here to find urban adventure, you know.
White people had not shared in the largesse of America at this time
yet it was right there, beyond their reach. They wanted that.
Whereas, we were the children of people who had gotten the pay-off,
and found that, "So what?" You know, it wasn't what we were looking for.
We weren't looking for a life of total safety and ease,
we wanted some danger.
He had great weed.
And he had a great record collection.
# ..In school about freedom
# And when you try to be free They never let ya... #
Basically, we just wanted to hang out, you know, and be cool like him.
Sinclair was kind of like an agent provocateur.
He was just a guy who knew how to grab headlines.
He was a big, bearded presence and physically he was like a guru.
# And when we say the pledge of allegiance... #
Sinclair took MC5 from blue collar suburbs to the heart of the city,
getting them a residency at Detroit's psychedelic Gran De ballroom.
# The air's so thick
# It's like drowning in molasses
# I'm sick and tired of... #
The music scene in Detroit was born at the Grand De ballroom.
That was like our petri dish.
We put the bacteria in and watched it multiply!
We would come to the Gran De, take acid and freak out with the MC5.
It was very far out.
These kids would come from the suburban context, where they had seen The Beatles on television
and they thought that was great.
They would come here and this was a place that was a different world.
Maybe they'd get laid!
Oh, you would walk in,
you would park and it was a very dangerous neighbourhood,
so, if you made it through the doors intact, it was an accomplishment.
It was like an adult playground, perhaps.
# Yes, yes, yes, yes... #
People would be dancing and then at the back there'd be a platform
doing a light show.
Lots of people of all sorts,
all ages, different costumes, different kinds of dress.
It was freedom.
It had a tremendous amount of atmosphere. It was the perfect venue.
It was not on the street level, it was upstairs.
And here was this fantastic room
with these archways and a promenade around and a stage at one end
and it was, kind of, big and cavernous and mysterious.
It had... It was just full of atmosphere.
And we knew that the place had been used in previous decades
as a ballroom for swing dancing
and jitterbugging, it was so... It had all that charisma about it.
And here we were in the mid-'60s,
bringing something completely new to it.
It was our palace.
And I'm having the warmest memories of spectacular sex acts,
performed in various parts of this building.
Very warm memories!
Whilst the inner city was a playful adventure for the white kids,
conditions for the black population were becoming intolerable.
Trouble was on its way.
I mean, we had a police crew called the big four,
four big white guys who rode round in a big four-door sedan,
used to jump outta the car all the time, threatening black people standing on the corner.
# ..fire bomb bustin' All around me... #
And they'd jump out and say, "Go home."
We'd say, "We at home. You go home!"
POLICE SIREN WAILS
In our mind, it was inevitable that there would be a riot by black people in Detroit
because the conditions were so bad.
Because when Detroit was gonna blow, it was gonna blow!
On 23rd July, 1967, Detroit erupted into riots.
It was the hatred of the police department that sparked that.
I mean, the fact that they decided to raid
an after-hours joint and arrest everybody...
I mean, an after-hours joint was part of our life here in this city.
# ..Takin' my wife and my family
# And little Johnny... #
This is the street that the police brought their cruisers at
and parked out here to arrest all those people.
And that's where the first bricks were thrown, right here,
and begin to spread down 12th Street that way
then Lenwood, Dexter, you know, involved the whole city before it was over.
# ..The Motor City's burnin'
# Ain't a thing that I can do... #
The rioting lasted five days, during which 43 people were killed.
33 of whom were black.
Everybody sort of thought we were gonna have a riot
because there had been racial issues that had mounted up
and killings and aggravations by some police.
# They're dancin' in the street... #
This place was terrorised and there had to be a change.
# .. An invitation Across the nation... #
And it wasn't only the city that would be changed for ever.
Detroit's music would be profoundly affected by the riots.
Motown was dragged into this reality when one of Martha Reeves' old hits
became the unofficial anthem of the rioters.
# ..And DC now
# Dancin' in the street
# Can't forget the Motor City
# Dancin' in the...
The riots happened and Marvin Gaye,
who has been known to write revolutionary songs,
this is prior to What's Going On,
thought if he sang a song about dancing in the street, they would stop fighting in the street.
It was to quench the riots, not incite them.
# It doesn't matter what you wear
# Just as long as you are there... #
The civil rights movement had escalated, the riots had arrived.
Detroit had changed. It was no longer this idyllic little city.
We could no longer sing about the birds and the bees,
because that was not really what was on our minds.
I... The music had to change and it did.
# You think that I don't feel love
# But what I feel for you is real love
# In other's eyes I see reflected
# A hurt, scorned Rejected love child!
# Never meant to be
# Love child
# Born in poverty
# Love child
# Never meant to be
# A love child... #
The Motown artist who later became acclaimed for his social conscience
would be Marvin Gaye, whose 1971 masterpiece, What's Going On?
was a record that Berry Gordy tried to bury.
# Mother, mother
# There's too many of you cryin'... #
After the riots the factories closed down.
They closed down work, so no-one had any work.
So now you have poverty.
Now people are grasping for jobs, for money, for this, for that.
Drugs come into the picture.
So much was destroyed.
# ..Mother, mother
# We don't need to escalate
# War's not the answer
# For only love can conquer hate
Although the Motown sound had finally begun to diversify,
the label had outgrown the crumbling city of Detroit.
Berry Gordy had become interested in making films with Diana Ross
and Hollywood beckoned.
In the wake of the riots, Motown would ship out west,
leaving a gaping hole in the city.
Motown went to LA.
I was sad as hell cos I wanted the dream of Detroit to stay around,
but when they got Lady Sings The Blues...
Berry's eyes were set on the bigger picture.
And he didn't realise, at the same time, he still had all of us,
we could've kept Motown going with the new version.
And the white music scene would also be affected by the unrest.
The MC5 lived within the riot zone and were caught up in the chaos.
# Dealin' in debt!
# And stealin' In the name of the Lord... #
I was exhilarated. I wanted to overthrow the system
and I thought, "Man, they're taking it to the max!
"They're going up against them!"
You know. "We're going up..." I mean, I felt I was part of this.
NEWSREEL: Law and order have broken down
in Detroit, Michigan.
Pillage, looting, murder and arson
have nothing to do with civil rights.
# ..All he left us was alone... #
We lived right in the middle of the ghetto.
Our sympathies were with the rioters, completely.
Against the police - we hated the police.
Hated the police!
The Detroit police were becoming like the Gestapo.
They were coming, looking for it.
# You know the Motor City's burnin', baby
# There ain't a thing... #
Early one morning the police broke the door in
and arrested us all and they found a bow and arrow in the house.
They said we were snipers shooting the police with bows and arrows!
So, "OK, take 'em all in."
I walk out on the street and there's a US Army tank on my street
pointing its big gun at my door!
This is on my street, in my city!
In the face of relentless police oppression, the MC5 decided to form their own revolutionary group.
They called themselves the White Panther party.
The White Panther party was kind of a universal way of saying,
you know, "Hey, let's take this shit over."
I admired the Black Panther party.
To me they were heroes.
These guys were from the neighbourhood...and we all did.
They had a 10-point programme,
so we decided we'd have a three-point programme.
Point two is, total assault on the culture by any means necessary.
Including rock 'n' roll, dope and fucking in the streets.
You know, rock 'n' roll, dope and fucking in the streets.
You can't approach the White Panther party without a sense of humour.
On the one hand we were serious political revolutionaries who wanted to overthrow the government,
on the other hand, we were on acid.
My take in the MC5 was that we could express this frustration
with the slow pace of change, with the contradictions,
with the injustices that we felt.
And we could do it through our band.
Kick out the jams, motherfuckers!
# Yeah! I, I, I, I,
# I'm gonna!
# Ah, kick 'em out!
# Well I feel pretty good
# And I guess that I could
# Get crazy now, baby
# Cos we all got in tune
# And when the dressin' room
# Got hazy now, baby
# I know how you want it, child
# Hot, sweet and tight
# The girls can't stand it
# When you're doin' it right
# Let me up on the stand!
# And let me kick out the jam... #
I mean, we wanted to rewrite society.
We wanted to build it from the ground up.
You know, tear everything down and start over. Do it right this time.
# Yes I'm starting to sweat
# You know my shirt's all wet
# What a feelin... #
And motherfucker, of course, was not only a paean to the language of black Americans,
in which motherfucker is a key word.
Saying motherfucker was like dropping a 20lb bomb of shit in the middle of a church service.
# And let me kick out the jams... #
The MC5's Kick Out The Jams was actually a hit on local radio.
And at the time, you could burn herbs ceremonially,
on a lone road on the highway somewhere.
I remember a particular night when Kick Out The Jams came on the radio
and we beat the hell out of the dashboard.
And truly this was, you know, the id of the nation.
It was the screaming, angry, libidinous howl from...
It was Allen Ginsberg's howl to a beat.
I was part of an entire generation of people my age,
who believed the country was going in the wrong direction.
And then, to experience polarising events,
to go through the rebellion of 1967 in Detroit
and hear the city of Detroit at war for a week,
to deal with the contradictions in the Vietnam War.
Our government is saying we have to go there
and fight people that have nothing to do with us,
that have no impact on our lives, whatsoever.
If they're coming through the Windsor Tunnel, we're there!
But they weren't coming through the Windsor Tunnel.
The anger and frustration of young, white Detroit was part of a nationwide uprising,
a second front fought on home soil, in which American youth
went up against the authorities in cities across the land.
POLICE SIREN WAILS
The police were just the front lines, but the school principals,
the congressmen, the city council, all authorities...
The last thing they wanted was to turn on you.
They wanted you to turn off and go along with the programme.
We were under constant pressure from the Detroit Police Department
and later the state police and then federal government got involved.
The FBI -
we entered into their sphere.
The Detroit authorities decided it was time to take action
and take out the man they saw as the Pied Piper of the city's youth.
I believe they used the marijuana laws to silence him.
But if you give two joints to this little hippy chick,
who turned out to be an undercover agent, that gets you 20 to life.
That's what he was facing.
Sinclair was sentenced to 10 years in jail.
It was for two joints of marijuana.
Hardly a crime.
Certainly not something you need to keep someone segregated from the public for.
They took John away in handcuffs
and we were like lost sheep. We didn't ever expect that to happen.
We thought he'd get sentenced, get appeal bond and we'd get him out.
That didn't happen. they were so dead-set in locking him up
that, all of a sudden, we lost our leader.
He couldn't continue managing the band
and it was right at the time, right at the point, when the MC5 needed to make the step
from being a local band to being, you know, on a major label,
be on tour and make calculated, smart decisions
and there wasn't anybody there to make the decisions.
Whilst their leader languished in jail,
The MC5's progression was put on hold.
But the influence of their revolutionary, acid-drenched rock
had already reached some unlikely places in Detroit.
They used to call themselves the White Niggers.
They were really gone!
Kick out the jams, motherfucker.
They were like the ones we all got branded by,
but they were really the bad boys.
George Clinton had originally come to Detroit with the Parliaments to audition for Motown.
Our notion of black music, until George Clinton, was Motown.
Motown was our local music,
until, one of our school dances, this guy showed up with his band
and came to lip-sync I Wanna Testify in the upper gym of our high school
and we looked at him cross-eyed,
like this was the world's first black hippy, as far as we knew.
# ..Down so dog-gone low
# Had to look up at my feet... #
George is a genius. He takes from everything.
And they were just part of this wildness.
They were not your run-of-the-mill negroes.
They had another destination.
And then they saw the MC5 and then they started taking acid.
# Sure been delicious to me... #
Berry Gordy had turned the Parliaments down, so Clinton opted for a radical change of direction.
Yeah, the Temptations on acid. By the time Testify came out
Beatles and The Rolling Stones, the English invasion had started.
So, we realised we were a little bit late for Motown itself
and so we said, "It's time for us to change."
Combining rock and soul to create groundbreaking funk,
Parliament Funkadelic occupied a strange middle ground in Detroit's racial mix.
George Clinton is like the other side, in some ways, of the MC5 coin,
in that he took Detroit and spun it.
The Funkadelic wouldn't have been that without the flamboyance of white rock.
We were too black for white folks and too white for black folks.
But the audience that we did have stuck with us, period.
And every year there would be more and more of the colleges.
They'd always got a new set of kids every year.
Those were the people he mowed over -
stoned white kids. Black kids were listening to something else
as the mothership took off around the country.
What black musicians were doing
was just incredibly important to my group, The Stooges.
It was the only music that sounded better than the damn English music!
Which was so very good,
but blacks still sounded better.
It's still, they... They trumped it.
George Clinton wasn't the only act in Detroit to benefit from the MC5.
The five had a little brother band.
Another bunch of white kids from Detroit's metropolitan fringes.
As London has Oxford...
..Detroit has Ann Arbor.
The area functioned economically as an educational centre,
which fed the transport and war industries centred in Detroit.
# No funk
# My babe
# No funk... #
Hell of an easy place to get a band going.
There was loose money floating around the university.
There were church groups that were only too eager
to get the sinful activities under their roof, where they could watch!
And The Stooges played a lot of our early gigs at a Unitarian church.
# For another day... #
The Stooges opened for the MC5 at the Gran De ballroom,
but instead of revolutionary rock 'n' roll,
they were an avant garde outfit with a wild stage act.
We loved the MC5,
but there was no way we could be like the MC5.
We had to do something original, something of our own.
That was a big part of Iggy's job.
And he did a really good job at it.
We were as high energy, dedicated and driving
and tough, but different.
Some people really liked it and some people really didn't.
Then some people began to approach the stage, wanting to be our fans,
wanting to get near us and some other people
wanted to stand up and say, "Fuck you!
"This is wrong!" You know.
"You can't do..." It was really like, "You're ruining everything!
"We're on the verge of a new age here!
"We're taking over! We don't need you!"
# ..It's 1969, OK?
# War across the USA
# It's another year for me and you
# Another year with nothin' to do
# It's another year for me and you
# Another year With nothin' to do... #
It was just mayhem.
It was pretty much just having one riff and just going off on it
and letting it go where it goes.
# Now last year I was 21
# I didn't have a lot of fun... #
If there was a large crowd of people in the room
and they weren't sure how to let things happen to them,
then I had to give them a little help!
# Oh-my and-a boo-hoo... #
Or we would have had a non-event, which would have led to a non-career.
# ..I don't care... #
The Stooges would develop a totally new primitive sound,
inspired by Detroit.
When I was in elementary school, we had a field trip to the Rouge Industrial Complex.
There was a machine that would just drop a piece of sheet metal...
I wanted to make music. I thought it should sound like that.
And I loved it. It was so impressive. It was power.
# So messed up
# I want ya here... #
That one piano note, driving and driving.
And the sleigh bells putting those dins...
Putting that big din of sound over simple music.
It did have kind of an assembly line, robotic kind of feel to it.
# ..And I lay right down In my favourite place... #
Detroit people are good people, they're smart, but they're tough.
And the music they wanted was tough and hard and dry.
# ..I wanna be your dog
# And now I wanna be your dog... #
It was an answer to all the florid excesses of pop
and back to an elemental, primitive feeling, "I wanna be your dog."
To speak of Detroit, Motown was the apotheosis of the extended chord,
but Detroit rock 'n' roll came along and said,
"To hell with all this finery. Let's go back to the basics."
And I think Iggy was... That was as raw as it ever got.
The Stooges' primitivism harked back to Detroit godfather, John Lee Hooker.
But instead of inner city blues, their music oozed adolescent, suburban boredom.
# Outta my mind on
# Saturday night
# Rollin' in sight
# Radio burnin'
# Up above
# Beautiful baby
# Feed my love all night
# Till I blow
# Away... #
Yeah, Iggy was right.
When you look at what the concerns of youth are,
you have something that's really incredibly perceptive.
It's almost like poetry, you know, these little phrases
that capture the state of youth.
The somewhat monotony, the sense of closed doors.
The sense of rootlessness and boredom.
There was no way it would fit into FM radio or anything playing then.
There was a different definition of what music is
and of what rock 'n' roll is. The Stooges were that,
as the Ramones were that five or six years later.
The Stooges are totally the starting point
for what would become punk.
VOICEOVER: That's peanut butter.
Ahead of their time, The Stooges would not find due recognition until later.
Instead, it took an outsider to export the Detroit sound worldwide.
Consistently, for 50 years, there's been a phenomenon
in which, in the recording industry there is a hot town.
And when one good thing happens that lights up a town,
then, whoosh! They will swoop in from the coasts.
In the '60s, Detroit had its moment.
All sorts of people, you know, were gonna get signed
and I think that's why Alice Cooper went there and became a Detroit band.
Having been on the fringes of LA's rock scene in the late '60s,
Alice Cooper met with little success before moving back to Michigan.
# ..Like the rain
# I'll be back home again... #
In Los Angeles or New York, if you're going to a Ramones concert,
if you're gonna go to an Alice concert or a Kiss concert back then,
you'd come home from work, go home, put on your black turn-up Levis,
put on your leather jacket, mess up your hair, smear some make-up on
and go to the show.
In Detroit they would just come from work, cos that's what they wore.
# I'm 18 and I don't know what I want
# 18, I just don't know what I want
# 18, I gotta get away
# I've gotta get... #
They gigged with The Stooges, three months later they were neighbours!
You know, and all of a sudden it was, "Under my wheels",
and "18", and they...
..they killed us.
He was smearing peanut butter over himself and jump in the audience,
he was a show unto himself. Musically, they weren't theatrical.
The band just kind of stood there and played, Iggy did all the work.
Whereas Alice Cooper, every single song was a theatrical bit.
# Livin' in the middle of town
# I'm 18!
# I get confused every day
# 18 and I just don't know... #
They took our themes...
..articulated them well enough...
..threw all the crazy shit out.
Did very, very good song craft.
And good vocals. Good, strong, nasty rock vocals
and they did the units.
# School's out for summer... #
Alice Cooper took the Detroit sound and turned it into a lucrative pantomime,
leaving the uncompromising Stooges and MC5 in limbo.
# ..School's been blown to pieces... #
I think everyone went home to their respective mothers, basically.
That's what I did first.
We were all broke.
I was strung out.
I decamped home
until I was...
stabilised enough to go out and seek further employment.
And what happens is
it's a crushing defeat.
It's a blow to your ego.
One day you were the golden child,
and you're not any more, and it's painful.
And what I did was found the painkilling properties
of Jack Daniels and heroin.
It's a sad tale, that all the Detroit bands kind of ended badly.
You know, it's not surprising in terms of Detroit.
There is a sense that Detroit... will get you.
But there would be a happy ending for one person from Detroit's rock scene.
John Sinclair was two years into his sentence when fellow revolutionaries John and Yoko Lennon
got wind of his plight and came to Michigan.
Here's a song I wrote for John Sinclair. One, two, one, two, three, four...
# It ain't fair, John Sinclair
# In the stir for breathing air
# Won't you care for John Sinclair?
# In the stir for breathing air
# Let him be, set him free
# Let him be like you and me
# They gave him ten for two
# What else can Judge Columba do?
# Got to, got to, got to, got to, got to
# Got to, got to, got to, got to, got to... #
On the following Monday, John was free.
There was a person in the Corrections Department of Michigan
who made the decision to let John out three days after John Lennon came.
I mean, the coincidence...
It was just amazing.
# What else can Judge Columba do...? #
# Got to, got to, got to, got to
# Got to, got to, got to, got to, got to, got to set him free... #
I've been out of trouble for 35 years, since I got out of prison,
because I don't do that any more.
I don't give a fuck what they do!
I'm gonna sit here and have my joint, I don't care what they think.
I'm just gonna stay out of their way.
# ..Free! #
As the new decade arrived, Detroit started to resemble a ghost town.
Motown finally completed its move to LA in '72,
where a few of its more visionary artists pioneered a tougher new funk sound,
with a real grip on what the black inner city was becoming.
# A boy is born In hard time Mississippi
# Surrounded by four walls That ain't so pretty
# His parents give him Love and affection
# To keep him strong Moving in the right direction
# Living just enough
# Just enough for the city
# His father works some days For fourteen hours
# And you can bet He barely makes a dollar
# His mother goes To scrub the floors for many
# And you'd best believe She hardly gets a penny
# Living just enough Just enough for the city... #
What you had in Detroit was happening already before the riots.
You had a city that was going black at its core
and white people that didn't like that and were moving out
to surround the city.
Detroit continued to decline,
through the first Arab oil embargo,
and that's when Chrysler, GM and Ford got caught producing cars
that did nine miles to the gallon,
and the Japanese said, "We can make a car that gets 40 miles to the gallon!"
And so that was the beginning of the end in Detroit.
Life both rose and fell with the fortunes of the American auto companies,
and at that time, they left Detroit like an empty peanut shell.
They drained the life blood out of it, and the money disappeared
and the manufacturers disappeared to where the taxes were more favourable.
But whilst the city's industry has been decimated,
its music has survived. Today,
even some of those who may have overindulged in the '60s are still going strong.
The Stooges are playing now... They're more vital
and more fabulous than ever. Their audiences are bigger than ever.
People who weren't born then love them more than ever.
Finally it's gotten through. And if we look around now,
the Beatles are not the major influence.
It's more likely that the Stooges and the Ramones are.
As simple as the Stooges' music is, in a sense, probably now
it's far more popular than it was in 1969 or '70.
You know, even today,
with the kind of nouveau garage-ic sounds that come out of there -
the Demolition Doll Rods, the White Stripes...
# I'm gonna fight 'em all... #
These are bands that really bring it down to an elemental level.
# They're gonna rip it off... #
You've got a good riff, you've got a phrase to stick over it,
you whack the snare and there you are.
# ..I can't forget
# Back and forth through my mind
# Behind a cigarette
# And the message coming from my eyes
# Says leave it alone... #
And along with the White Stripes,
Eminem resides at the top of Detroit's musical pile.
The world's biggest hip-hop star,
Slim Shady, is another suburban white kid
upholding Detroit's musical tradition
for blending black and white.
# You'd better lose yourself In the music, the moment
# You own it You better never let it go
# You only get one shot Do not miss your chance to blow
# This opportunity comes Once in a lifetime... #
His songs bring to life the social problems of modern Detroit. Within its eight-mile road boundary
the population has now halved to under a million, over 80% of whom are black
and a third of whom live below the breadline.
# This world is mine for the taking
# Make me king
# As we move toward A new world order
# A normal life is boring
# But superstardom's close to post mortem
# It only grows harder Only grows hotter... #
You think of Detroit in the modern period
as a huge, vast African-American ghetto.
Take New Orleans after the flood -
Detroit has been through all this and they didn't even have a natural disaster!
It just got washed over by America, you know?
We stand here today...
Me and Chuck was just talking earlier.
Chrysler just signed a new contract two weeks ago, and today on the news
they announced they're laying off 12,000 people permanently.
Half of those 12,000 people are directly here in the city of Detroit,
which is gonna make things that much more devastating than it is now.
Everything has just been dismantled.
You ride down the streets here, it looks like Lebanon or something.
# No more games I'm a change what you call rage
# Tear this...roof off like two dogs caged
# I was playing in the beginning The mood all changed
# I been chewed up and spit out And booed off stage
# But I kept rhyming And stepwritin' the next cypher
# Best believe Somebody's paying the pied piper
# All the pain inside Amplified by the fact
# That I can't get by with my 9 to 5
# And I can't provide the right type of life for my family... #
Documentary looking at how Detroit became home to a musical revolution that captured the sound of a nation in upheaval.
In the early 60s, Motown transcended Detroit's inner city to take black music to a white audience, whilst in the late 60s suburban kids like the MC5 and the Stooges descended into the black inner city to create revolutionary rock expressing the rage of young white America.
With contributions from Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper, George Clinton, Martha Reeves, John Sinclair and the MC5.