Iggy Pop

Members: Iggy Pop

Active: 1960's - present


James Newell Osterberg, Jr. (born on April 21, 1947 in Muskegon, Michigan), better known by his stage name Iggy Pop, is an American rock singer and occasional actor. Although he has had only limited commercial success, Pop is considered one of the most important innovators of punk rock and related styles. He is sometimes referred to by the nicknames "the Godfather of Punk" and "the Rock Iguana", and is widely acknowledged as one of the most dynamic stage performers of rock. Pop was the lead singer of The Stooges, a late 1960s/early 1970s band that was highly influential in the development of hard rock. The Stooges became infamous for their live performances in which Pop leapt off the stage (thus inventing the "stage dive"), smeared raw meat and on one occasion peanut butter over his chest and cut himself with broken bottles. Many subsequent performers have imitated Pop?s antics.

Although he would never revisit the primal vitality of his days with the Stooges, Pop has had varying degrees of success in his 25 years as a solo artist. His best-known songs include "Lust for Life", "I'm Bored", Top 40 hit "Candy" and "The Passenger" (the latter based on a poem written by Jim Morrison).

A film about Pop's life and career titled The Passenger is currently in production.


Pop was born in Muskegon, Michigan to Newell Osterberg, a former debt collector, and Louella Christensen. His father, who was adopted by a Swedish American family, was of Irish and English descent, while his mother was of Danish and Norwegian ancestry. He began his music career as a drummer in different high school bands in Ypsilanti, Michigan. One band was the Iguanas, where he acquired the name Iggy. After exploring local blues-style bands he eventually dropped out of the University of Michigan and moved to Chicago to learn more about blues. Inspired by Chicago blues as well as bands like The Doors, he formed the Psychedelic Stooges and called himself Iggy Pop. He got the name Pop because he once shaved his eyebrows for a show, after which he looked like a friend with the last name Popp who had recently undergone chemotherapy and was eyebrowless himself. The band was composed of Pop on vocals, Ron Asheton on guitar, Asheton's brother Scott on drums, and Dave Alexander on bass. After almost two years they made their debut in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


One year after their debut, and now dubbed the Stooges, the band were signed to Elektra Records in 1968. The Stooges' first two albums, The Stooges, produced by John Cale, and Fun House, sold poorly, although they had a lasting influence on the burgeoning punk movement. Shortly after the new members joined the band broke up because of Pop's growing heroin addiction.

David Bowie salvaged Pop's career by producing an album with him in England. With James Williamson signed on as guitarist, the search began for a rhythm section. However, since neither Iggy nor Bowie were satisfied with any players in England, they decided to re-unite The Stooges. It would not be a true reunion, in that Dave Alexander would not play on the album. He had become a full-on alcoholic, unable to play on the record; he died in 1975. Also, Ron Asheton grudgingly moved from guitar to bass to make way for Williamson to play guitar. The recording sessions produced the punk rock landmark Raw Power, in 1973. After its release Scott Thurston was added to the band on keyboards/electric piano and Bowie continued his support, but Pop's drug problem persisted. The Stooges' last show ended in a fight between the band and a group of bikers, documented on the album Metallic K.O.. Drug abuse put his career on hold for a couple of years.


After the second breakup of the Stooges, Pop made some recordings with James Williamson, but these weren't released until 1977 (as Kill City). The record was credited jointly to Pop and Williamson. Pop was unable to control his various drug habits, however, and checked himself into a mental institution to try and clean up. David Bowie was one of his few visitors there, and he continued to support Pop. In 1976, "when I wasn't doing much" as Pop euphemistically put it, Bowie took Pop along as his companion on the Station to Station tour. This was Pop's first exposure to large-scale professional touring and he was impressed, particularly with Bowie's work rate.

Bowie and Pop relocated to Berlin to wean themselves off their addictions. Pop signed to RCA and Bowie helped write and produce The Idiot and Lust For Life (both 1977), Pop's two most acclaimed albums as a solo artist, the latter with another team of brothers, Hunt and Tony Sales. Among songs they wrote together were "China Girl", "Tonight", and "Sister Midnight", all of which Bowie performed on his own albums later on (the last being recorded with different lyrics as "Red Money" on Bowie's album Lodger). Bowie also played keyboards in Pop's live performances, some of which are featured on the album TV Eye (1978), and helped Pop focus on his career. In return Pop contributed backing vocals on Bowie's Low.

1979 - 1981: THE ARISTA ALBUM

Pop was unhappy with RCA, however. He later admitted that he'd made TV Eye as a quick way of fulfilling his three-album RCA contract and moving on elsewhere. This was Arista Records, for which he released New Values in 1979. This album was something of a Stooges reunion, with James Williamson producing and latter-day Stooge Scott Thurston playing guitar and keyboards. Not surprisingly, the album's style veered back to the guitar sound of the Stooges. Although highly regarded by many Iggy fans -- some preferring it to the Bowie albums -- New Values was not a commercial success, despite some strong material including "I'm Bored" and "Five Foot One".

The album was moderately successful in Australia and New Zealand, however, and this led to Pop's first visit there to promote it. While in Melbourne, Iggy made a memorable appearance on the ABC's nationwide pop show Countdown. During his anarchic performance of "I'm Bored", Iggy made no attempt to conceal the fact that he was miming, and he even tried to grab the teenage girls in the audience. An obviously 'wired' Iggy was also interviewed by host Ian " Molly " Meldrum, an exchange which was frequently punctuated by Iggy jumping up and down on his chair and making loud exclamations of "G'day mate" in a mock Australian accent. Iggy's Countdown appearance is generally considered one of the highlights of the show's history and it cemented his popularity with Australian punk fans; since then he has often toured there. While visiting New Zealand, Iggy recorded a video for "I'm Bored", featuring him outside and inside The Beehive, part of the country's Parliament buildings. This was widely aired on New Zealand television.

While in Australia Pop was also the guest on a live late-night commercial TV interview show on the Ten Network. Iggy's wit and intelligence and his articulate manner confounded the panel of journalists, whose main purpose was asking about his drug use.[citation needed] It is not known whether a recording of this interview exists but the famous Countdown appearance has often been re-screened in Australia.

During the recording of Soldier (1980), Pop and Williamson quarrelled over production - the latter, apparently wanted a big, Phil Spector-type sound - and Williamson was fired. David Bowie appeared on the song Play It Safe performing backing vocals with Simple Minds. The album and its follow-up Party (1981) were both commercial failures, and Pop was dropped from Arista. His drug habit varied in intensity, but remained.

THE 1980'S

In 1982, Pop released what would be his final album for some time, Zombie Birdhouse, on Chris Stein's Animal label, with Stein himself producing. Commercially, the album was no improvement on his Arista works.

In 1983, Pop's fortunes changed. David Bowie recorded a version of the song "China Girl', which had originally appeared on The Idiot. Bowie's version was a worldwide hit single and as co-writer of the song, Pop received substantial royalties. In 1984, Bowie recorded another old Pop-Bowie song, Tonight, bringing more royalty money to Pop, who for the first time was financially secure, at least for the short term. Bowie's intention was to help his friend get out of the clutches from the IRS by including co-writer credits to Pop on tracks from his blockbuster Let's Dance album and the less successful follow-up Tonight. This enabled Pop to take a three-year break, during which he overcame his heroin addiction, took acting classes and got married.

In 1985, Pop recorded some demos with guitarist Steve Jones, previously of the Sex Pistols. He played these demos to David Bowie, who was sufficiently impressed to offer to produce an album for Pop: 1986's New Wave-influenced Blah Blah Blah, featuring the single "Real Wild Child", a cover of "Wild One (Real Wild Child)", originally co-written and recorded by Australian rock'n'roll pioneer Johnny O'Keefe in 1959. The single was a Top 10 hit in the UK and was also successful around the world, especially in Australia, where for the last twenty years it has been used as the theme music for the ABC's late-night music video show Rage. It remains Pop's solitary brush with major commercial success.

In 1987, Pop appeared (along with Bootsy Collins) on a mostly instrumental album by Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto.

The follow-up to Blah Blah Blah, Instinct (1988), was a turnaround in musical direction, however. Its stripped-back, guitar-based sound leaned further towards the sound of the Stooges than any Pop solo album to date. His record label, which had most likely been expecting another Blah Blah Blah, dropped him.

THE 1990'S

In 1990 Pop recorded Brick by Brick, produced by Don Was, with members of Guns N' Roses and The B-52s as guests, as well as backup vocals by many local Hollywood groups, some of whom would be recruited for his band to tour and perform on his "Kiss My Blood" video (1991).

Also in 1990, Pop starred in the controversial opera The Manson Family by composer John Moran, released on Point Music/Phillip Classics where he sang the role of prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi.

In 1995, Pop again found mainstream fame when his 1977 song "Lust For Life" was featured prominently in the film Trainspotting. A new video was recorded for the song, with clips from the film and studio footage of Iggy dancing with one of its stars, Ewen Bremner; an Iggy Pop concert was an important plot point, as it dissolved the relationship between Tommy and Lizzie. The song has also been used in TV commercials for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (with many music critics denouncing the usage of the song to promote peppy cruises) and as the theme music to The Jim Rome Show, a nationally-syndicated American sports talk show.

Also in 1995, Pop released Naughty Little Doggie, with Whitey Kirst returning on guitar, and the single "I Wanna Live". He co-produced 1999's Avenue B with Don Was, releasing the single "Corruption", and produced 2001's Beat 'Em Up, which gave birth to the Trolls, releasing the single "Football" featuring Trolls alumni Whitey Kirst and brother Alex.

In 1997 he remixed Raw Power to give it a rougher, more hard-edged sound; fans had complained for years that Bowie's official 'rescue effort' mix was muddy and lacking in bass. Pop testified in the reissue's liner notes that on the new mix, "everything's still in the red."

In the early to middle 1990s Iggy Pop made several guest appearances on the Nickelodeon show The Adventures of Pete and Pete. He played James Mecklenberg, Nona Mecklenberg's father. He also appeared as a Vorta in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "The Magnificent Ferengi".


Pop supplied the memorable vocals to the 1999 Death in Vegas UK Top 10 hit single Aisha.

Pop's latest album, 2003's Skull Ring, features collaborations with Sum 41, Green Day and the Trolls, as well as the Asheton brothers, reuniting the surviving Stooges for the first time since 1974. He made guest appearances on electroclash artist Peaches's song "Kick It" and on the track "Rolodex Propaganda" by At The Drive-In.

Also in 2003, having enjoyed working with Ron and Scott Asheton on Skull Ring, Iggy reformed the Stooges with bassist Mike Watt (formerly of the Minutemen) filling in for the late Dave Alexander, and Fun House saxophonist Steve MacKay rejoining the lineup. They have been touring regularly since 2004 and are reported to be planning a new studio album with Steve Albini producing.

In 2003 the first full-length biography of Iggy was published by Omnibus Press. Gimme Danger - The Story of Iggy Pop was written by Joe Ambrose. Pop did not collaborate on the biography or publicly endorse it. In 2005, he appeared, along with Madonna, Little Richard, Bootsy Collins, and The Roots' ?uestlove, in an American TV commercial for the Motorola ROKR phone.

In early 2006, Iggy and the Stooges played in Australia and New Zealand for the Big Day Out. The Stooges are currently at work on a new album, tentatively due out in 2007. It will feature tracks produced by Steve Albini and Jack White of the White Stripes.

In August 2006 Iggy and the Stooges performed at the Lowlands pop festival in the Netherlands.

Paul Trynka, former editor of MOJO magazine and a writer whose books include The History of Denim, has completed a biography of Iggy Pop (with his blessing) called Open Up and Bleed, to be released in early 2007 in the US and UK by Random House.


Pop earned a place in punk rock history by popularizing many of the stage routines that are now commonplace among musicians: he was among the first to stage dive and "crowd walk". Some of his antics have yet to have been topped by even the most "outrageous" of contemporary bands: among other things, in his prime he was known to cut himself and roll around in peanut butter on stage, and is rumoured to have once received oral sex from a fan in front of an audience.

Although Pop has never had a Top 10 album or best-selling single, his impact on rock music is widely acknowledged; among the famous musicians who have claimed him and his band The Stooges as an influence are the Sex Pistols, the Ramones and Nirvana.

The song "Punk Rock" on the album Come On Die Young by Mogwai is a tribute to Iggy Pop, as it samples a speech that Pop gave on punk rock from an interview on the CBC. During that interview, Peter Gzowski asked Iggy to clarify music labeled as "punk rock." Iggy, as some have now dubbed "the Grandfather of Punk," sat upright in his chair and defended the use of "punk", ending his speech (or tirade) in indignant repose.

I'll tell you about punk rock: punk rock is a word used by dilettantes and, uh... and, uh... heartless manipulators, about music... that takes up the energies, and the bodies, and the hearts and the souls and the time and the minds, of young men, who give what they have to it, and give everything they have to it. And it's a... it's a term that's based on contempt; it's a term that's based on fashion, style, elitism, satanism, and, everything that's rotten about rock 'n' roll.

I don't know Johnny Rotten... but I'm sure, I'm sure he puts as much blood and sweat into what he does as Sigmund Freud did. You see, what, what sounds to you like a big load of trashy old noise... is in fact... the brilliant music of a genius... myself. And that music is so powerful, that it's quite beyond my control. And, ah... when I'm in the grips of it, I don't feel pleasure and I don't feel pain, either physically or emotionally. Do you understand what I'm talking about? Have you ever, have you ever felt like that? When you just, when you just, you couldn't feel anything, and you didn't want to either. You know, like that? Do you understand what I'm saying, sir?

The Iggy and the Stooges song "Search and Destroy" was covered by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and appeared as a B-side of "By The Way" and on the compilation The Beavis and Butthead Experience album, and by the band Emanuel for the Tony Hawk's American Wasteland soundtrack; moreover, he is referenced in the Red Hot Chili Peppers' song "Coffee Shop" from their 1996 album, One Hot Minute. Nike also used "Search and Destroy" in their 1996 Olympics promotion. "Search and Destroy" is also featured in the 2004 film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. The song "Raw Power" was covered by Guns N' Roses for the ill-fated The Spaghetti Incident? album. David Bowie covered the "China Girl" on his album Let's Dance, "Tonight" and "Neighbourhood Threat" on Tonight, and "Bang Bang" on Never Let Me Down. "The Passenger" was covered by Siouxsie & the Banshees on their album Through the Looking Glass, and by INXS's Michael Hutchence on the Batman Forever soundtrack. The Stooges song "1969" was covered by goth rock band The Sisters of Mercy (included on their singles collection Some Girls Wander by Mistake) and by Joey Ramone on his solo album Don't Worry About Me. "1970" was covered by Charged GBH on their City Baby's Revenge album under the alternate title of "I Feel Alright". The band Monster Magnet also recorded a cover of "1970" and often add the song to their live set.

Pop's solo album The Idiot has been cited as a major influence on post-punk, electronic and industrial artists such as Joy Division, Depeche Mode and Nine Inch Nails. David Bowie's "The Jean Genie" is about an Iggy Pop like character. Nick Cave has been quoted as saying that the Stooges' Fun House LP was "the greatest rock record ever made". He and The Birthday Party once did a 45-minute set of only Stooges songs back in the early 1980s under the name of 'The Cave Men'. One of the most popular bands of former Yugoslavia, Azra, recorded a song entitled "Iggy Pop" on their first album, released in 1980.



1996 - The Iguanas


1969 - The Stooges

1970 - Fun House

1973 - Raw Power


1977 - Kill City


1977 - The Idiot

1977 - Lust for Life

1978 - TV Eye Live 1977

1979 - New Values

1980 - Soldier

1981 - Party

1982 - Zombie Birdhouse

1986 - Blah Blah Blah

1988 - Instinct

1990 - Brick by Brick

1993 - American Caesar

1996 - Naughty Little Doggie

1999 - Avenue B

2001 - Beat 'Em Up

2003 - Skull Ring

2005 - A Million in Prizes: The Anthology

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