Born in San Diego in 1950, Michael Page was playing bass in local bands when a friend from New York City told him about Greenwich Village and the Bowery. The New York Dolls played at Max’s Kansas City, the Ramones at CBGB. Rock and roll was changing, and New York was the heart of the change. Page moved cross-country, met Sylvain Sylvain, and hung out with the Dolls until the band broke up. Sylvain and Page played in a group called the Criminals; then Page auditioned with Chubby Checker.
When Page got the gig, it was a dream come true.He toured the world, shook James Brown’s hand, and played the Chicago Fest with Little Richard, Chuck Berry, and Bo Diddley. But the endless travel took its toll and Page finally said no más. Ready for a rest, he heard that Iggy Pop was auditioning bass players, and when Page walked into the audition, he was told, “You’ve got the gig.” Four days later he was on tour: playing soccer stadiums in Europe, hanging out with groupies, drinking grappa with Iggy Pop and David Bowie in a Berlin nightclub. The next year, he played bass on Iggy Pop’s Party album. Michael Page was a part of rock and roll history. His story continues below.
When Iggy and I were in San Diego for our short vacation, something happened that I still hear about. In fact, I heard about it the other day.
What happened was that Iggy and I went down to Windansea. We were bodysurfing, enjoying the sun, and drinking a bit. A homecoming was happening at La Jolla High School,and my little buddy Markey McCoy showed up.
Markey I knew from San Diego. One time I visited San Diego, and when I returned to New York, I brought Markey with me. We drove his car from San Dad’s Got History Diego to New Orleans, and then on to New York City.
Markey started getting a little career going in rock and roll.But he eventually ended up back in San Diego, and he was playing in a band at this homecoming. When he saw us down at the beach, he asked if Iggy would like to come and play a song with his band, and Iggy said yes. So we walked up from Windansea. By then, we’d been drinking a little bit and had been in the sun all day.
We made it to the football field, where the big event was, and it was all La Jolla alumni with their family and friends. Everyone was out on the football field having a big picnic. It was a family-oriented thing, and there were a lot of people there. Markey’s band was playing, and I think at that time he was into a Christian band, or whatever. So we sat and watched the band play.
Then Markey announced that he had a special guest that was going to play a song. I don’t think that he announced that it was Iggy Pop. And that was a cool thing to do, because we didn’t want that to happen. We just wanted to make it a casual jam.
Now, the only song Iggy knows to play with guys he hasn’t played with before is “Louie Louie.” So Iggy went up onstage in front of all these families, the kids and the whole thing, and sang this quadruple, double X-rated version of "Louie Louie," using unadulterated pornographic lyrics in front of all these families. And it was his way of saying, “Sure, I’ll come and jam with you, but you’ve got to take what you’re going to get.”
I remember being in the audience and watching it happen. I looked at the reaction of the people, and it was, like, oh,my God! Iggy was doing every vulgar swearword that you could do. He just made up his own swearwords to “Louie Louie.” And he did it as a mockery, because the original lyrics to “Louie Louie” are not filthy like everybody thought. When we were kids and “Louie Louie” came out, everybody invented their own words for the song that had nothing to do with the song. “Louie Louie” was about a banana plantation and was a Jamaican song.
But the song was immortalized, even though nobody knew the words.
So Iggy used “Louie Louie” as his banner, his example of what rock and roll was all about. The words to “Louie Louie”were never bad, but people somehow had made them bad. And guess what? If you’re under the assumption that the words are bad, I’ll show you what bad is all about, and I’ll give you my version!!
Well, his version was absolutely disgusting. With all the families that were there, it was the biggest insult that you could do. Half the people were, like, “Oh, my God,” and they’re putting their hands over their kids’ ears. The other half were just dying of laughter. They couldn’t believe it.Well, they pulled the plug on him halfway through and told him to get out, and Iggy was banned from La Jolla forever.
But I still hear about it to this day. I heard about it last week, and I heard about it yesterday when I went to Guitar Center to pick up an amp simulator. A guy at Guitar Center asked me my name so that I could get a discount, or whatever. When I told him I’m Mike Page, he said, “Oh, you’re that guy. You’re that guy who played with Iggy. I’ll never forget it for the rest of my life. I graduated from La Jolla High, and I was there at the football field when Iggy Pop sang ‘Louie Louie.’”
And he said, “That was the wildest thing that ever happened to me. I couldn’t believe it. My parents were there, and they died and freaked out,and me and my friends all freaked out. It was the coolest thing I’d ever seen happen.” So here you go again. Half the people think Iggy’s the coolest thing they ever saw, and the other half were ready to have him arrested and sent to jail.
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