For Kurt Cobain: February 20, 1967 – April 5, 1994
Before Nirvana, the Spin Doctors, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Pearl Jam, no one knew the meaning of grunge, or even cared where Seattle was: flannel was a fashion no-no. Do you remember the days of post-modern and cutting-edge rock, when everyone wore black and they were always depressed? Remember the days when Gen-X’ers were confused, unable to decide if they were “alternative” or “progressive,” so they stumbled through the X-decade, trying to be both?
Well before those incoherent flannel days of Seattle, when a muddy, grunge wave swept across America—and while the West Coast was frolicking in the Fillmore to the sounds of the Summer of Love in 1967—Detroit was rippin’ out a hard-driving, gritty and raw sound from the four walls of the scene’s epicenter: The Grande Ballroom.
The Grande is where the likes of the MC5, Iggy & the Stooges, and Ted Nugent & the Amboy Dukes got their start. The Grande also served as the main-Midwest concert stop for legendary acts such as B.B King, Cream, Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and the Who. Then there’s the local Detroit bands that made it to the biggest stage in town—some signing record deals, that you may have never heard of—such Dick Wagner’s the Frost, Frigid Pink, Dave Gilbert’s of the Rockets precursor Shakey Jake, SRC, and Arthur Pendragon’s Walpurgis (aka Phantom’s Divine Comedy).
The Grande is the dance hall that started it all. Some of the world’s best bands came from Detroit from 1967 to 1980 and Louder Than Love is the story of those times—of The Grande—as told through the artists who graced her stage.
Filmmaker and music historian Tony D’Annunzio is currently offering a free stream of the U.S. PBS-TV broadcast version of the film (60-minute running time) on his You Tube page. While there’s no online streams of the feature-length version (80-minutes/1 hour and twenty minutes), you can purchase DVDs of that theatrical/direct-to-video version—released in 2016—at various brick-and-mortar and online retailers such as Walmart, Target, and Amazon.
The tales from Detroit Rock City continue with the life and times of Suzi Quatro and Sugar Man Rodriquez in the frames of Suzi Q and Seaching for Sugar Man, as well as CREEM: America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine.
And since this is Kurt’s special day . . . take a moment to remember him with the Seattle documents 1991: The Year Punk Broke on Daily Motion and Hype! on TubiTv. And, while you may not know him, could you take a moment to remember the unsung career of Detroit’s Arthur Pendragon with his lone album.
About the Author: You can read the music and film reviews of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his work on Facebook.