The Cult’s Billy Duffy Recalls Impromptu ‘Sonic Temple’ Collaboration With Iggy Pop
Monday night (Sept. 16) will feature the return of Above Ground, one of the more intriguing and entertaining music benefits on the schedule as developed by Dave Navarro and Billy Morrison. The event finds a wealth of musicians coming together to salute and recreate two classic musical works, all while raising funds for MusiCares. This year's Above Ground benefit finds an all-star cast chipping in to perform David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars as well as The Stooges' self-titled debut album.
Some of the performers for the evening include Perry and Etty Lau Farrell, Jack Black, Ministry's Al Jourgensen, Billy Idol and Steve Stevens, Bush's Gavin Rossdale, Prophets of Rage's Brad Wilk, Steve Vai, Stitched Up Heart's Mixi Demner, Juliette Lewis, MC5's Wayne Kramer, Prong's Jason Christopher, Jane's Addiction's Chris Chaney, Deadland Ritual's Franky Perez, Velvet Revolver's Dave Kushner and The Cult's Billy Duffy among others. As one of the musicians on the bill to actually tour with both Bowie and Iggy Pop, we spoke to Duffy about his recollections of both musicians and the impact they had on him as an impressionable youth.
The guitarist recalls of Pop, "I had a girlfriend who was obsessed with him and we'd go to every single gig. I think I first saw Iggy in '77 or '78 doing Lust for Life. I broke into a gig in Manchester at the Apollo, which funny enough The Cult were going to play in again next month, but I was an Iggy obsessive. Raw Power was a massively influential album for me and my brethren in the early punk rock days."
The Stooges leader not only shared bills with The Cult, he also appeared on the song "New York City" on The Cult's now 30-year-old classic Sonic Temple. Duffy recalled, "It was cool of Iggy to sing on the record. It's a true story that Ian [Astbury] rode Iggy on the back of his bike from a gig to the studio. Iggy played in Vancouver and I played on "I Wanna Be Your Dog," and Ian got Iggy on the back of his Harley and took him to the studio and they did a late session doing that track 'New York City.'"
As for Bowie, Duffy recalls, "Bowie was an omnipresent god in the U.K. long before he blew up in America. He was like a huge underground star, which was bizarre because in England he was literally as big as you could get. He sort of helped shape and push boundaries in the U.K. in the early '70s."
He adds, "I suppose if you stick around long enough you get to meet a lot of people and I was fortunate enough to spend some quality time with Davie Bowie and Iggy Pop, which was a total bonus for me, and they turned out to be super cool guys, which is not always the case when you meet your idols."
Given his appreciation for both musicians, Duffy will perform during both segments of the evening, telling us he's "super thrilled" to be playing on "Search and Destroy" to honor The Stooges, while he has the honor of joining Bowie's keyboardist Mike Garson as a guest on "Star" from the Ziggy Stardust album. "It's kind of a sleeper," says Duffy of the deeper cut, "But I really like it and it's short, so that's even better. It gets the job done in three minutes."
"It's fun," says Duffy of the Above Ground benefit. "You can tell even now that people are going to want to show up and hear those albums. It'll be great."
Navarro and Morrison promise unique stage sets and production for each performance. The Above Ground benefit will be taking place Monday (Sept. 16) at the Fonda Theatre in Hollywood.
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