A 20-year-old Ohio native whose accomplishments include dropping out of several universities, consuming as many drugs and as much alcohol as she can afford, and alarming her parents, is perusing a magazine stand at a shopping mall when, to her astonishment, she comes across a recent issue of the British music weekly New Musical Express. Long obsessed with everything British, she devours the issue as soon as she gets home. What strikes her most is an article by a young British writer about Iggy Pop, who has just performed with the Stooges in London. “At King's Cross,” one paragraph begins, “Iggy proved he was as wild as ever. Dressed only in silver lamé jeans, complete with silver blonde hair and black make-up, Iggy started off demonstrating his own demented version of the boogaloo, progressing to some particularly impressive acrobatics and then into his audience assault numbers.” From the article, she cuts out a photo of Iggy in his silver hiphuggers and puts it up in her room. Less than a year later, not knowing what else to do with her life and worried about the sexual claims made on her by the local Hells Angels chapter, she decides to move to London. She takes with her only a few changes of clothing, $200 in cash and a trio of talismanic records: White Light/White Heat by the Velvet Underground, and two albums by the Stooges, Raw Power and Fun House.
One evening, after various adventures and misadventures but still somehow surviving in London, she is given the address of a party in the residential suburb of Acton. The party turns out to be a dud, thick with students and held in what looks like the house of someone’s parents. The Ohioan makes up her mind to leave but before she can something unexpected happens. As she is complaining aloud that someone has stolen her treasured Iggy and the Stooges albums from her bedsit in Clapham, a voice from across the room pipes up: “I know Iggy.” She spends the next hour deep in conversation with the owner of this voice, an “emaciated oddball in leather jeans, sporting a tooth earring.” He confesses he doesn’t have any place to sleep that night so she invites him back to her flat. They are intrigued with each other. He explains that he is moving houses and asks if he can leave a few things at her place. She says yes. Two days later a van full of his stuff shows up and he moves in.
His version is rather different. At the party he notices her: tall, skinny, dressed in blue denim, speaking with a Midwest American accent and a somewhat whiney tone. “Who is this badly dressed harridan and why should I be even remotely interested in listening to her sorry lamentation?” he writes in a memoir published decades later. In his telling, after discovering their mutual Iggy-mania, she invites him to share a taxi back to her flat. He denies the “van full of stuff” story and says it was two months before he moved in, and only after she explicitly invited him to do so.
The skinny stranger, who also sports pink nail varnish and black eyeliner, turns out to be a music journalist, but it takes a few weeks for her to learn that he is the author of the Iggy Pop article she had chanced upon back in Akron, the very article that helped propel her to London. (In his version, this amazing coincidence is discovered the night they meet.) They form a bond over their love of the Iggy-Bowie-Velvets line of rock, and begin to hang out together, eventually falling in love. At a pub one night they are sitting with the flamboyant journalist’s editor who, after hearing the American spout off passionately about some band, invites her to write for the NME. She accepts and, despite her lack of writing skills but very much because of her vehement opinions, becomes a valued contributor to the paper. All goes well until she is asked to write a piece looking back at the Velvet Underground. She loves the Velvets but hates the idea of looking back, and is also tiring of her own negativity. “I’d spent a year slagging off bands, saying everything was shit, and I was sorry. I wanted to love music again,” she later recalls. Declining the assignment, she pulls the plug on her writing career to continue on her meandering path to rock stardom.
(Chrissie Hynde, Nick Kent, Ian MacDonald)