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Iggy Pop is a rock singer, songwriter, actor and producer hailing from Muskegon, Michigan, USA and born on the 21st of April 1947. He is one of the most electrifying performers in the history of rock, both as a solo artist and as frontman of legendary proto-punks The Stooges.
James Newell Osterberg was a misfit. Maybe not an outcast but definitely outside of his natural habitat by the time he got to junior high. You see, Osterberg was raised in a trailer park in Ypsilanti, Michigan by a pair of near-penniless parents, while he was going to school with the president of the Ford Motor Company’s son in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His peers were of a certain social and economic stature that Osterberg was not a part of but that’s absolutely not to say that he had an unhappy childhood.
Quite the opposite is true, and a large part of that was due to how unconditionally supporting and loving his parents were. They helped out as much as they could, to the extent that once he took up the drums, his parents let him have the master bedroom of their trailer so he could have enough room for a drum kit. This space to practise paid off, and by the time he was in high school Osterberg was playing for a number of different bands. One of them was called The Iguanas, and playing with them led to him gaining the nickname Iggy, which would stay with him his entire performing career.
While playing, the newly christened Iggy discovered a love of the blues, playing with a number of local blues inspired bands like The Prime Movers. Iggy was so taken with the style that he dropped out of university and moved to Chicago with the express intention of learning as much about the blues as he could. While he was down there, inspired as he was by The Sonics, The Doors and his home state heroes the MC5, he formed a band of his own called The Psychedelic Stooges along with Ron and Dave Asheton on guitar and drums, respectively, and Dave Alexander on bass.
In 1967, Iggy had an experience that would go on to define a lot of his artistry, persona and all of his performance style. He watched The Doors play a concert in Michigan and was utterly taken by Jim Morrison’s extreme behaviour and wilful antagonism of the audience. He was inspired, and he decided to push the boundaries of stage performance as far as they could go, adding stage diving, rolling around in broken glass and even vomiting on stage to his bands live shows. These live shows got them a lot of exposure and hype, and in 1968, they followed The Doors again, signing with Elektra Records a mere year after their live debut.
Between ’68 to ’71, The Stooges released two albums, their self-titled debut in 1969 and 1970’s “Fun House”. Hailed as two of the great rock albums of all time now, at the time they were all but ignored, not selling anywhere near as much as most hoped they would. That, combined with the crippling heroin habit that Iggy had picked up, led to The Stooges splitting soon after “Fun House” was released. However, in the same year Iggy made one of the contacts that would save his career when he met David Bowie at the nightclub Max’s Kansas City.
Bowie wanted to make an album with Iggy in England, so he and new guitarist James Williamson moved across the Atlantic to put a new band together. England promptly failed to deliver, so Scott and Ron Asheton begrudgingly moved across the pond to complete the group on bass and drums respectively. The album they created, “Raw Power”, was even better than anything they’d done before but even the patronage of Bowie himself couldn’t lift their commercial spirits and Iggy’s drug addiction worsened. The Stooges split once more, and Iggy found himself in a mental institution to wean himself off drugs, but from this point, it could only get better.
His friendship with Bowie continued and The Dame’s faith in Iggy led to the first commercially succesful albums of Iggy’s career, both released in 1977. They were “The Idiot” and “Lust For Life”. Ever since then Iggy has remained one of the most respected and acclaimed cult performers in rock and roll, a reputation which he continues to hold to this very day. Still performing, still rocking and still blowing every mind who witnesses him, Iggy Pop comes highly recommended.