Iggy Pop

 Iggy Pop

 Iggy Pop – circa 2006

 “Here comes Johnny Yen again / With liquor and drugs / And the flesh machine / He’s gonna do another striptease” – ‘Lust For Life’ (Iggy Pop, David Bowie)

The crowd shrieks.  This is not the adulation that love-struck teenagers shower on the latest pop star pin-up; these people are genuinely terrified.  Iggy Pop is on stage – and the rest of the world better beware!  “Sometimes the audience would literally just go nuts and they’d usually get very demonstrative,” he recalls.  “Sometimes they’d all pass out.  Sometimes…they’d all press themselves in groups against the wall as far away as they could get from me…They’d watch in horror…but they’d be sort of fascinated…”

The man who would come to be known as Iggy Pop is born James Newell Osterberg, Jr. on 21 April 1947 in Muskegon, Michigan, U.S.A.  [Note: Some early biographies list the artist’s middle name as Jewel.  While this sounds appropriately outlandish, it’s apparently incorrect.]  His father, James Osterberg, is an English teacher.  Osterberg Senior is of Irish and English descent.  The surname Osterberg is a legacy of Iggy’s Dad having been adopted by a Swedish-American family.  James Osterberg’s wife, Louella Christensen, is of Danish and Norwegian ancestry.  James and Louella Osterberg raise their son in a trailer park (or caravan park as it may be described in other countries) in Ypsilanti, Michigan.  “I grew up in a fairly isolated rural area,” Iggy says.

“I was a pretty nice kid…kind of quiet.”  By this, Iggy Pop means he wasn’t running around starting fires.  On the other hand, “I had a big mouth…I was a creative type…I was on the debate team.  I wrote poems.”  James Osterberg, Jr. attends Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  While there, he forms his first band, The Iguanas.  The name of this group is the source of his stagename: Iggy as in Iguanas.  Notably, to his friends and close associates, he is always Jim or Jimmy.  Iggy Pop is a larger than life character that he dons like a costume.  There is a real separation between the private individual and the public figure.  Iggy is not the frontman of The Iguanas; he plays drums.  “I joined a rock band…and suddenly there was travel, there was an excuse to stay out late, there was an identity and I started to go…crazy.”  Iggy reflects that, “By the time I was about 16, I started to slide away from everything else, as I knew I wanted to be a musician.”

After graduating from high school in 1965, Iggy Pop forms The Prime Movers, a more bluesy group.  He makes a desultory attempt at higher education at the University of Michigan, but Iggy’s heart isn’t in it so he soon drops out.  A move to Chicago, Illinois, follows.  There, Iggy joins up with Sam Lay, who played drums for noted white blues musician Paul Butterfield in the early 1960s.  Iggy too seeks to play the blues at this time, but it just doesn’t work out.

Drifting back to Detroit, Michigan’s State capital, Iggy Pop puts together a new act in 1967, The Psychedelic Stooges.  This quartet consists of Iggy Pop (vocals), Ron Asheton (guitar), Dave Alexander (bass) and Ron’s brother, Scott Asheton (drums).  By 1968, psychedelic music is passé, so the group name is wisely abbreviated to The Stooges.  Iggy usually performs naked from the waist up.  In autumn 1968 representatives of Elektra Records in Los Angeles visit Detroit because they are interested in signing another of that city’s bands, The MC5.  While they are in town, the boys from Elektra take in a show by The Stooges and Danny Fields decides to put them under contract too.  Fields also becomes The Stooge’s de facto manager.

The music of The Stooges is, at first, difficult to classify.  Given Iggy Pop’s flirtation with the blues, that may seem like a logical starting point, but it is ill-fitting.  Equally, The Stooge’s own early allegiance to psychedelia quickly falls by the wayside.  For want of a better tag, they are initially lumped in with heavy metal.  There is certainly a link there with the bludgeoning drums and noisy guitars, but The Stooges have no truck with metal’s supernatural or fantasy lyrical imagery.  Instead, they ‘embody rock ‘n’ roll as animal savagery at the most purely atavistic…level.’  Or, to put it another way, they perform ‘track after track of three-chord, banal, slobbering rock ‘n’ roll.’  What they really create is punk rock…except punk is not officially invented until the mid-1970s.  The Stooges have definitely seen the future, but is the rest of the world ready?  Since their music predates punk, let’s call it proto-punk.  Iggy Pop says the sound is born from “the industrialism in Detroit [which is known for automobile factories]…what I heard walking around…boom boom bah – ten cars…boom boom bah – twenty cars…I get a lot of my influence from the electric shaver.”  Iggy has great respect for The Stooges musical abilities.  “That band could kill any band at the time and frankly can just kill any band that built on this work since…just eat any of those poodles.”  Or, more succinctly, “I thought we sounded pretty cool.”

Three acts in particular influence The Stooges: The Velvet Underground, The Rolling Stones and The Doors.  New York’s Velvet Underground (1966-1972) was at odds with the peace-and-love hippie vibe of the late 1960s.  They were all about darkness and perversion and a raw, unpolished sound.  ‘Iggy wanted The Stooges to be a Neanderthal version of The Velvet Underground.’  The Rolling Stones (formed 1962) were a British band famed for their notorious frontman Mick Jagger.  A gangly, rubber-lipped creature, Jagger redrew the boundaries for male beauty and The Stones’ bad boy image equated them with sex and drugs and all manner of decadence.  Iggy Pop absorbed all these lessons.  The Doors (1967-1973) were from Los Angeles and were signed to Elektra, the same label that now has The Stooges under contract.  Lead vocalist Jim Morrison’s slinky sexuality was coupled with daringly degenerate imagery.  ‘Seeing The Doors in concert…inspired Iggy Pop.’

Iggy Pop’s antics on stage are the stuff of legend.  “I didn’t plan it,” he insists, “things just happened…I couldn’t dance either…but [I thought] if I take some L.S.D. and smoke a few [marijuana] joints, I’d dance…and I did.”  At least some of his ‘craziness is fuelled by his addiction to heroin.’  So what is it that Iggy Pop does on stage that provokes at least some audience members to “watch in horror”?  He is reputed to have carried out the follow acts: (1) been beaten up by members of the audience; (2) used a broken drumstick to probe his chest and draw blood; (3) rolled around in broken glass; (4) contorted himself, bending backwards almost to the ground; (5) crowd surfed – that is, thrown himself into the audience and had his prone form passed from hand to hand above the heads of the crowd [Iggy arguably invented this ritual at the Cincinnati Summer Pop Festival in 1970, though many have subsequently emulated him]; (6) cut himself with a broken bottle; (7) indulged in fellatio with members of the audience; (8) dripped hot wax on himself; (9) humped the guitar amplifiers, simulating sexual intercourse; (10) insulted the audience; (11) mutilated himself; (12) gone naked; (13) smeared himself with peanut butter (“I was crowd surfing in a baseball stadium and somebody handed up a jar of peanut butter”); (14) smeared his body with raw meat; and (15) vomited on stage.  “There are so many stories around about all the things I’ve done,” Iggy marvels.  “They certainly cover a wide range of human behaviour, and I’m not sure [if] I’ve done them all or not.  It doesn’t really matter.  I may be mildly crazy, but at least I’m not some d*** who never did anything.”

Iggy Pop writes or co-writes most of the songs he sings.  Frequently he improvises words to the tune written by somebody else.  For this reason, the quality of his songwriting tends to vary depending on the abilities of his collaborators.  When Iggy does compose by himself, he plays guitar left-handed – though if he has ever played on stage, it would be a very rare instance.  Iggy starts to explain that, “My music is just basically…” and then he trails off, before concluding, “I look for things to tear apart.”  This makes him sound like a protest singer, which is wide of the mark.  Iggy Pop articulates boredom, frustration and the malaise of modern society.  Like his proto-punk music, Iggy’s lyrical themes anticipate a world of rising unemployment where communities collapse into isolated individuals suffering from a sense of disconnection.

In 1968 Iggy Pop marries Wendy Weissberg.  The marriage lasts for ‘several weeks’ before it is annulled later in the year.

Danny Fields, the man who signed The Stooges, leaves Elektra in January 1969.

The debut album, ‘The Stooges’ (1969) (US no. 106), is released in August.  On the sleeve, Elektra bills the vocalist as Iggy Stooge, ‘much to Iggy’s chagrin’, because he has already established the Iggy Pop persona.  The album is produced by John Cale, who has just left The Velvet Underground.  The songs on the recording are all credited to the team of the four Stooges.  ‘1969’ is Iggy’s state of the nation address to the accompaniment of rattling riff rock: “Well it’s 1969, okay? / All across the U.S.A. / It’s another year for me and you / Another year with nothing to do.”  The spectre of boredom returns to collide with nihilism on ‘No Fun’, wherein Iggy is so fed up that he thinks he will “Maybe call Mom on the telephone.”  But Iggy Pop’s all-time best song is ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’.  It’s such a simple image, yet Iggy finds layers of ambivalence in it.  A dog is man’s best friend, so does he want to be our buddy?  A dog is something less than human, something that is kept on a chain, so does he want to be debased?  When he sings, “I lay right down in my favourite place,” that’s gotta mean somebody’s lap, right?  The possibilities for perversion are boundless, yet it is expressed in such a basic manner that it could be taken on face value as (almost) innocent.  Musically, it is equally intriguing.  Ron Asheton’s distorted guitar solo is a marvel.  John Cale enhances the song with a nagging one-note piano line that recalls The Velvet Underground’s experiments with drone rock.  The incongruous sleigh bells provide a fascinating counterpoint to the brutish guitar.  ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ is a definitive mix of The Stooge’s reductive rock and an undercurrent of something more (or less?) that suggests there is greater depth in the piece.  Iggy Pop says of the album ‘The Stooges’, “It’s fresh and it made certain breakthroughs that no one had ever done before.”

‘The record stiffs.’  Iggy Pop and commercial success are terms that are not usually found in the same sentence.  Commercial success and artistic success are two different things though.  The shadow Iggy casts across the future of rock is disproportionately huge in light of his record sales.  He will never really be a big hit, but his reputation and legend will grow.  In 1969, the year of the hippie peak of the Woodstock Festival, The Stooges seem horribly out of step.  “I think I helped wipe out the ‘60s,” Iggy says wittily.

Don Galluci acts as producer on the second Stooges album, ‘Fun House’ (1970).  A veteran of garage rock band The Kingsmen for whom he played keyboards, Galluci basically records the band live in the studio.  There’s a fifth Stooge, saxophonist Scott Mackay, on this album.  Now correctly billed as Iggy Pop rather than Iggy Stooge, the vocalist lets loose some of his most unhinged yowls on ‘Down On The Street’ where “A thousand lights / Look at you.”  Scott Asheton pounds his drumkit like a smithy at his anvil.  “I stick it deep inside,” Iggy boasts on the vibrating ‘Loose’.  ‘TV Eye’ finds him raving, “See that cat / Down on her back? / She got a TV eye on me,” while practically frothing at the mouth.  ‘1970’ updates Iggy’s fireside chat with America.  Again, all the compositions are credited to The Stooges as a group.

‘Offstage, [Iggy Pop] does little else other than shoot heroin and have promiscuous sex.’  In 1970 Iggy Pop becomes a father for the first and – so far as is known – only time.  Eric Benson (born 1970) is the product of Iggy’s liaison with Paulette Benson.  In the same year, Iggy Pop becomes involved with Sable Starr (born Sable Hay Shields, 15 August 1957-18 April 2009).  A ‘baby groupie’, she reportedly loses her virginity to the rock star when she is 13.  It is probably Sable Starr to whom Iggy refers when answering a question about why he cut himself with a bottle on stage: “Yeah, that was because I’d done something really foolish the night before and I was ashamed.  I had left this 13 year old girl stranded at the airport on the east coast and she was from the west coast.  That wasn’t right to do that to her.”  By 1971 Iggy Pop is the boyfriend of Irina Brook, an actress and theatre director.

In 1971 The Stooges are dropped by Elektra ‘due to the public’s disinterest and the group’s growing addictions to hard drugs.  Pop’s continuous death-defying acts also worry the label.’  “You know, when people tell me I changed their lives, or they started a band because of our albums, I want to say, ‘Where were you when ‘Fun House’ came out?  When Elektra dropped me….?” Iggy says.

At this point British rock star David Bowie enters the picture.  In 1971 Bowie is not as famous as he will become.  He has had some success in the U.K., but is still comparatively obscure there and virtually unknown in the U.S.A.  He will achieve his big breakthrough with ‘The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars’ (1972), an album whose title character is at least partially inspired by Iggy Pop.  In 1971 Bowie had heard The Stooges’ albums but never seen Iggy perform.  When he first sees some of the act’s concert footage, he is shocked at the violence.  Still, it doesn’t affect his appreciation for the artist and he seeks out Iggy Pop.  “[I met David Bowie] in a bar in New York [in 1971].” Iggy recalls.  Iggy had been ‘cutting lawns, playing golf, living with his parents, and stalking the streets.’  With the sponsorship of Bowie and the Englishman’s manager Tony DeFries, the ‘newly clean and sober’ Iggy Pop is shipped off to England and a record deal is set up with Columbia.  With Bowie acting as producer, Iggy is put together with guitarist James Williamson and Ron and Scott Asheton.  Saxophonist Scott Mackay and bassist Dave Alexander are history.  Generously, Ron Asheton switches from guitar to bass to facilitate James Williamson’s presence.  Columbia initially rejects the recordings and wants the tapes remixed to make them, in Iggy’s words, “more palatable.”  Iggy rails against the niceties of the recording studio: “There’s life in some of those records and I fight, try to beat back the producers and engineers so there’s not an excess of stuff used to squeeze my voice to make it artificial.  There’s a person in there.  And people will listen if they hear someone speak to them.  They’ll listen because it’s lonely out there.”

Despite its difficult birth, ‘Raw Power’ (1973) (US no. 182, UK no. 44), is Iggy Pop’s best album.  It is credited to Iggy And The Stooges rather than The Stooges.  All the songs are co-written by guitarist James Williamson and Iggy Pop (who around this time sports silver-dyed hair…but it’s not a look that lasts).  “’Raw Power’ is, by far, the most advanced of all The Stooges albums,” Iggy claims.  Though he may have been ‘newly clean and sober’ when producer David Bowie found him, it’s not a state Iggy maintains.  “I was pretty f***ed up,” he says of his condition at the time of ‘Raw Power’.  The album’s high point may be ‘Search And Destroy’.  Amid fuzz guitars, Iggy Pop claims, “I’m a street-walking cheetah / With a heart / Full of napalm / I’m a runaway son of the nuclear A-bomb / I am the world’s forgotten boy / The one who searches and destroys.”  “I’m real proud of that song,” says Iggy.  Describing it as his favourite from the album, it is noted that the lyrics were written while he was sitting under a tree in Kensington Gardens snorting rocks of Chinese heroin.  ‘Gimme Danger’ introduces some knife-sharp acoustic guitar as Iggy mourns, “There’s nothing in my dreams / Just some ugly memories.”  The title track, ‘Raw Power’, benefits from a romping, bumptious riff.  The album also encompasses ‘Penetration’ and ‘Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell’.  Some rejected cuts from the sessions surface in other formats in 1977: ‘I Got A Right’ backed with ‘Gimme Some Skin’ appears as a single and ‘I’m Sick Of You’ turns up on an EP.  ‘Raw Power’ was created with the intent that it ‘would be so powerful, so sonically over the top, that it would physically hurt the listener.’  Even in its remixed form, it is still full of ‘hellbent ferocity.’

When ‘Raw Power’ ‘sinks without a trace’ commercially, The Stooges ‘take another self-inflicted dive into the compost.’  In 1973 Iggy Pop has a relationship with notorious groupie Bebe Buell.  By 1974 he is ‘back into the world of heavy drugs.’

In 1975 Iggy Pop records some material with James Williamson but it is set aside for a couple of years.

‘Metallic K.O.’ (1976) is ‘a shoddy collection of live Stooges performances including the group’s infamous last gig.’

After a ‘brief spell homeless on the streets of Hollywood,’ Iggy Pop ‘checks himself into the Neuropsychiatric Institute in Los Angeles.’  This action is taken primarily to address the singer’s tendency to perform acts of self-harm.  He later casually acknowledges, “I’ve had treatment for that sort of thing.”

Again it is David Bowie who rescues Iggy Pop from the netherworld, bringing him along on a retreat to Berlin, Germany, where Bowie seeks breathing space from the pressures of his own burgeoning career.

‘The Idiot’ (1977) (US no. 72, UK no. 30), released in March, is the first official Iggy Pop solo album.  The Stooges are nowhere in sight.  David Bowie produces the album, co-writes the songs, and plays keyboards.  Bowie’s regular guitarist, Carlos Alomar, also plays on the album.  The rhythm section is two brothers, Tony Sales (bass) and Hunt Sales (drums).  Bowie’s fingerprints are all over this set, but the combination of the cerebral David Bowie and the instinctual Iggy Pop is a good one.  Their talents complement each other.  Although the title could refer to Iggy’s behaviour, it’s probably no coincidence that it also evokes the cryptic novel ‘The Idiot’ (1868) by Franz Kafka.  The hollow-eyed howl of ‘Funtime’ finds Iggy narrating, “Last night I was down in the lab / Talking to Dracula and his crew / All aboard for funtime.”  An appropriately oriental keyboard motif adorns ‘China Girl’.  Iggy tells his Asian lover, “My little China girl / You shouldn’t mess with me / I’ll ruin everything you are.”  David Bowie has a hit in 1983 with his cover version of ‘China Girl’, but it is Iggy Pop who records it first.  ‘Nightclubbing’ is a spooky zombie ode to night life while the Bowie/Pop songwriting team is joined by guitarist Carlos Alomar for the disjointed ‘Sister Midnight’.  ‘The Idiot’ is issued on RCA, the label for whom Bowie records.

David Bowie puts his own career on hold to tour as keyboardist in a low-key capacity on Iggy Pop’s U.S. and U.K. tours to promote ‘The Idiot’.  The Sales brothers are also along, but Ricky Gardiner, rather than Carlos Alomar, plays guitar on the tour.

By this time, punk rock is in full flower.  Iggy Pop could be forgiven if he was bitter about these upstarts reaping the benefits of his pioneering work.  Instead, he views the leading lights of punk with genuine warmth: “I though The Sex Pistols were very, very good and The Ramones also.”

‘Lust For Life’ (1977) (US no. 120, UK no. 28) in September largely repeats the formula from ‘The Idiot’, though some songs are co-written with guitarist Ricky Gardiner instead of David Bowie.  For example, Gardiner’s strange rhythm guitar is the foundation for ‘The Passenger’ where Iggy Pop declares, “I ride and I ride / I ride through the city’s backside / See the city’s ripped insides.”  Gardiner, Bowie and Pop are responsible for the cock-eyed optimism of ‘Success’.  However, it is Bowie and Pop who provide the jagged ‘Some Weird Sin’, the dramatic, swinging ‘Tonight’, and the album’s highlight, the pulse-pounding title track, ‘Lust For Life’.  “Well, I’m just a modern guy,” Iggy sings, but then goes on to explode, “I’m worth a million in prizes” and promise that, “Yeah, I’m through with sleeping on the sidewalk / No more beating my brains / With liquor and drugs.”  The singer later tells an interviewer, “I’ve got a little more lust for life than I can get away with.  Always been a problem for me.”  He grins.

Emboldened, Bomp Records issues ‘Kill City’ (1977) (US no. 204) in November.  This is the shelved Iggy Pop/James Williamson sessions from 1975.  The title track, like most of the album, is co-written by the duo, and slams about with purposeful abandon.  “If I have to die / First, I’m gonna make some noise,” Iggy declares in the lyrics.

Iggy Pop moves to Arista Records for ‘New Values’ (1979) (US no. 180, UK no. 60), ‘Soldier’ (1980) (US no. 125, UK no. 62) and ‘Party’ (1981) (US no. 166).  Although these works may be a bit ‘inconsistent’, they all contain some interesting songs.  ‘New Values’ supplies the Iggy Pop manifesto, ‘I’m Bored’: “I’m the chairman of the bored / I’m a lengthy monologue / I’m livin’ like a dog.”  “That’s a pretty rockin’ song,” Iggy comments approvingly of this piece of self-composed punk perfection.  The brooding ‘The Endless Sea’ hails from the same album.  The low-rent sustenance of ‘Dog Food’ comes from ‘Soldier’ as does ‘I Need More’, the latter co-written with former Sex Pistol Glen Matlock.  In another piece of self-mythology, Iggy affirms he needs, “More venom / More dynamite / More disaster / I need more than I ever did before.”  The best moment on ‘Party’ is the horny ‘Pleasure’, co-written with guitarist Ivan Kral.

‘Zombie Birdhouse’ (1982) is issued on Animal Records, the label created by guitarist Chris Stein, a member of the punk / new wave outfit Blondie.  Stein produces the album and plays on it as does his Blondie colleague, drummer Clem Burke.  This album yields the chattering ‘Run Like A Villain’, co-written with guitarist Rob Du Prey.

In 1982 Iggy Pop releases his autobiography, ‘I Need More’, named after his song from 1980.

After this, Iggy Pop ‘begins succumbing to his vices once again’ and is out of the public eye for a time.

In 1985 Iggy Pop marries Suchi Asano.

David Bowie returns to co-produce (with David Richards) ‘Blah Blah Blah’ (1986) (US no. 75, UK no. 43).  Bowie also co-writes most of the album with Iggy Pop.  The Sex Pistols are now history, but their guitarist Steve Jones, co-writes three tracks with Iggy, including the standout, ‘Cry For Love’.  This album also includes ‘Shades’ (UK no. 87), an ode to sunglasses, and a cover version of Australian rocker Johnny O’Keefe’s 1958 song ‘Wild One’ under the revised name of ‘Real Wild Child’ (US no. 27, UK no. 10).  ‘Blah Blah Blah’ is the first of two Iggy Pop albums released on A & M; the other is ‘Instinct’ (1988) (US no. 110, UK no. 61).  The noted experimentalist Bill Laswell acts as producer on ‘Instinct’.  Steve Jones again co-writes three pieces as well as continuing to act as guitarist.  His serrated chords adorn the harsh ‘Cold Metal’, which, like most of the album, is a solo composition from Iggy Pop.

In July 1990 ‘Brick By Brick’ (1990) (US no. 90, UK no. 50) is released on Virgin Records, beginning a long association for Iggy Pop and that label.  Don Was of the quirky act Was/Not Was is the producer of this set.  Again, Iggy Pop writes most of the songs himself including the buffeting gust of metal called ‘Home’ (UK no. 84) and the ‘surprisingly tuneful’ ‘Candy’ (US no. 28, UK no. 67), a catchy duet with Kate Pierson from wacky new wave act The B-52’s.

Iggy Pop records another duet, with Deborah Harry of Blondie, for the A.I.D.S. charity project ‘Red, Hot + Blue’ (1990) in November.  Iggy and Debbie have a laugh with a version of the 1939 Cole Porter song ‘Well, Did You Evah!’ (UK no. 42).

In the rest of the 1990s, Iggy Pop releases three albums: ‘American Caesar’ (1993) (UK no. 43), ‘Naughty Little Doggie’ (1996) (UK no. 77) and ‘Avenue B’ (1999) (UK no. 105).  Iggy writes the bulk of these albums by himself, but there are still some co-written pieces and cover versions.  Guitarist Eric Schermerhorn co-writes the best track from ‘American Caesar’, ‘Wild America’ (UK no. 63), a colourful chronicle of a decadent nation.  On the other hand, Iggy alone writes ‘Look Away’ from ‘Naughty Little Doggie’.  This is an almost delicate account of Sable and Thunder.  Sable is based on Iggy’s former acquaintance, Sable Starr.  [Note: Sable Starr dies of brain cancer on 18 April 2009]  Don Was returns to produce ‘Avenue B’ which features the venom-dripping ‘Corruption’ (co-written with guitarist Whitey Kirst and bassist Hal Cragin) and the odd story-song ‘I Felt The Luxury’ (composed with keyboardist Bill Medeski, bassist Chris Wood and drummer Billy Martin).

In 1999 Iggy Pop and Suchi Asano divorce.

For ‘Beat ‘Em Up’ (2001) Iggy Pop begins acting as his own producer.  He also works with a combo he dubs The Trolls: Whitey Kirst (guitar), Lloyd ‘Mooseman’ Roberts (bass) and Alex Kirst (drums).  Whitey Kirst co-writes most of the album, but the band as a whole co-writes three tracks including the brutal rock of ‘Mask’.  ‘Skull Ring’ (2003) is largely recorded with The Trolls, but Iggy also records songs with the offbeat Peaches and latter day punks Green Day and Sum 41.  Most importantly, for four songs Iggy reunites with The Stooges (i.e. the Asheton brothers, Ron pulling double duty on both guitar and bass).  As the air raid siren rock of the song ‘Skull Ring’ proves, The Stooges have not mellowed.

With Mike Watt as bassist, The Stooges begin performing live again in 2003.  Watt also joins Iggy Pop, Ron Asheton and Scott Asheton in the recording studio for The Stooges’ album ‘Weirdness’ (2007) (US no. 130, UK no. 81).

In November 2008 Iggy Pop marries his long-time girlfriend Nina Alu.  A half-Nigerian, half-Irish flight attendant, she met Iggy in 1999 and they moved in together in 2000.

Ron Asheton of The Stooges passes away on 1 January 2009 after a heart attack.

Iggy Pop tries another couple of solo albums.  Iggy describes ‘Preliminaires’ (2009) (US no. 187, UK no. 200) as “a quieter album with some jazz overtones.”  This is issued on the Astralwerks label.  ‘Apres’ (2012) is an album of cover versions of French standards, though it also includes a few ring-ins such as The Beatles’ 1965 song, ‘Michelle’.  Virgin Records releases the album, ‘Après’.

The Stooges reconvene for ‘Ready To Die’ (2013) on the Fat Possum label.  The line-up is Iggy Pop, Mike Watt and Scott Asheton, joined by old colleagues, Steve Mackay (saxophone) and James Williamson (guitar).  The latter produces the album and co-writes with Iggy Pop.

In 2013 Iggy Pop views the twenty-first century and declares, “This has been a great century for me – the last century really f***ing sucked.  I think maybe society and I have met halfway for a little while now.”

‘Leaves Of Grass’ (2016), released on 19 February, is co-credited to Iggy Pop, Tarwater and Alva Noto.  ‘Post Pop Depression’ (2016) (US no. 17, UK no. 5), issued on the Loma Vista label on 18 March, is produced by Josh Homme (from Queens Of The Stone Age).  All the tracks on this album are co-written by Iggy Pop and Josh Homme.  The nominal (non-charting) single from this set is ‘Gardenia’, a big-boned love song.

It’s a long way for the man who once caused audiences to shriek in horror.  Iggy Pop was regarded as ‘The Godfather of Punk’ (“That was really embarrassing,” he said of the accolade).  Iggy was ahead of his time with punk rock.  The first three Stooges albums are classic stuff.  Iggy’s work with David Bowie is probably the best of his latter efforts, but there is a thread of interesting material through almost all his recordings.  His record sales may never have been impressive, but the mark he made on rock history is more indelible than many artists with higher sales figures.  Ultimately, Iggy Pop’s brand of creative art triumphed.  Iggy Pop was a ‘legendary rock ‘n’ roll wild man and substance abuser.’  ‘Detroit’s Stooges powered garage rock minimalism to ear-splitting industrial strength capacity.’

Sources:

  1. ‘The Dinah Shore Show’ (U.S. television program) – Iggy Pop and David Bowie interview conducted by Dinah Shore (June 1977)
  2. ‘The Illustrated New Musical Express Encyclopedia of Rock’ by Nick Logan, Bob Woffinden (Salamander Books, 1978) p. 185
  3. ‘The Illustrated Rock Handbook’ edited by Roxanne Streeter, Ray Bonds (Salamander Books, 1983) p. 107
  4. Notable names database – nndb.com – as at 16 September 2013
  5. wikipedia.org as at 16 September 2013, 3 January 2017
  6. Internet movie database imdb.com as at 3 November 2013
  7. clashmusic.com – Iggy Pop interview conducted by Simon Harper (30 March 2010)
  8. ‘7.30’ (Australian television program, ABC Network) – Iggy Pop interview conducted by Monique Schafter (30 March 2013)
  9. classicrockrevisited.com – Iggy Pop interview conducted by Jeb Wright (27 September 2011?)
  10. allmusic.com, ‘Iggy Pop’ by Greg Prato as at 2 November 2013
  11. ‘The History of Rock’ by Mark Paytress (Parragon Books, 2011) p. 163, 317
  12. ‘A Million In Prizes – The Anthology’ – Sleeve notes by Danny Fields (Virgin Records, 2005) p. 2, 3
  13. ‘The Rolling Stone Illustrated History Of Rock ‘N’ Roll’, ‘Heavy Metal’ by Lester Bangs (Plexus Publishing, 1992), p. 462
  14. ‘Friday On My Mind’ by Ed Nimmervoll (Five Mile Press, 2004) p. 79
  15. ‘A Million In Prizes – The Anthology’ – Sleeve notes by Lenny Kaye (Virgin Records, 2005) p. 12, 13
  16. ‘A Million In Prizes – The Anthology’ – Anonymous sleeve notes (Virgin Records, 2005) p. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11
  17. ‘The 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time’ – ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine (February 2004) p. 51, 56, 57
  18. lyricsfreak.com as at 29 October 2013
  19. iggypop.narod.nu (a Russian website) as at 5 November 2013
  20. dietcokeandsympathy.blogspot as at 22 May 2011
  21. ‘A Million In Prizes – The Anthology’ – Anonymous back cover information (Virgin Records, 2005) back cover
  22. ‘The Independent’ (U.K. newspaper) – Iggy Pop interview conducted by Simmy Richman (28 October 2013) (reproduced on independent.co.uk)
  23. whosdatedwho.com as at 5 November 2013
  24. ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ (Sydney, Australia newspaper) – Article by Jane Rocca (24 March 2013) (reproduced on smh.com)
  25. ‘The Chicago Tribune’ (Chicago, U.S.A. newspaper) – Article by Catherine Bremer (10 May 2012) (reproduced on chicagotribune.com)
  26. ‘The Herald Sun’ (Melbourne, Australia newspaper) – Iggy Pop interview conducted by Kathy McCabe (21 March 2013) ‘Hit’ liftout p. 5

Song lyrics copyright Thousand Mile, Inc. with the exceptions of ‘1969’, ‘No Fun’, ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’, ‘Down On The Street’ (all four – Elektra Entertainment Group); ‘Loose’, ‘TV Eye’ (both Virgin Records America, Inc.); ‘Search And Destroy’ and ‘Gimme Danger’ (both BMG Music Entertainment, Inc.); ‘Kill City’ (Bomp Records); ‘I’m Bored’ (BMG Eurodisc Ltd.); and ‘I Need More’ (BMG Special Products).

Last revised 11 January 2017

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