Without a doubt, the one contribution that the Cincinnati Summer Pop Festival gave to Rock history was capturing on film for posterity the performance of a young Iggy Pop and the Stooges, the godfathers of Punk Rock.
The footage shot by WLWT cameras shows Iggy, then 23, performing the songs “T.V. Eye” and “1970.” He dives into the audience, gets lifted by the crowd and then stands upright, held up by a sea of hands. He’s shirtless with his taut muscles exposed to TV viewers and every face on the field turned toward him.
Iggy later said at that moment he thought that possibly he was Jesus Christ. The next moment, Iggy received a large jar from an audience member and proceeded to smear peanut butter all over his bare chest and face, then threw huge globs of the jar contents out into the crowd.
The Stooges’ record company would later distribute photos from the performance, and it remains the defining image of Iggy Pop.
The late Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton had a different memory of their set: “All I remember from that was the big video camera guy didn’t care about anyone on stage. I had to follow him, his wires were hooked up to my lead cords, and he’s dragging my fuzz tone and wah all across the stage. For me that was a pain in the ass.”
The highlights were turned into a 90 minute documentary aired by AVCO Broadcasting in Cincinnati and NBC for outer areas. The festival was also simulcasted on local FM radio stations in stereo, but no tapes are known to exist of the mixes.
Not on the TV show were sets by such other acts on the marathon bill as Bob Seger, Mott the Hoople, Ten Years After, Zephyr, Savage Grace and more. (There was a heavy Michigan presence on the bill, as the festival’s promoters — Russ Gibb and Michael Quatro — were from there.)