This Detroit rock & roll band was formed in 1967 as The Psychedelic Stooges with lead singer Iggy Pop (born James Newell Osterberg in 1947). The Iggy appellation came from his drumming tenure with local teen band The Iguanas.
If local favourites The MC5 struck fear into the hearts of Motor City parents with their manifesto of sex, drugs, rock & roll and politics, they looked normal in comparison to the stage antics of Iggy & The Stooges.
Violent interaction with members of the audience (both verbal and physical), vomiting and self-mutilation with beer bottles were some of the more predictable aspects of their live presentation, while the music itself was simplistic and angry one- to three-chord grunge-rock, with lyrics ranging from teenage disorientation to animal lust.
Two excellent – but widely panned – albums for Elektra followed (they were signed the same night as The MC5), but the drug lifestyle of the band caused its breakup in the early ’70s after the release of Fun House (1970).
Iggy Pop escaped Detroit to hook up with David Bowie in New York.
At Bowie’s suggestion, Iggy and guitarist James Williamson decamped to London to record Raw Power (1973). There, Pop re-recruited Ron and Scotty Asheton, the brothers who made up The Stooges’ primal rhythm section.
Colombia hated the album, viewing it as even less accessible than their previous material for Elektra, and charged Bowie with salvaging what he could from the mess. Thankfully, Bowie paid heed to Iggy’s original vision and delivered eight tracks that influenced the proto-punks of New York and London, and secured Iggy’s legacy as the movement’s godfather.
Sadly, The Stooges disbanded again a year later with two chaotic hometown shows in Detroit, at which they were pelted with missiles by a hostile biker gang.
Working with David Bowie, Iggy cut two good solo albums in the mid ’70s, when bands like The Sex Pistols defined him as “The Godfather of Punk.” He has kept recording and touring to his hardcore cult following ever since, with small acting roles in a number of movies as well.
Iggy reformed The Stooges in 2003 (with Ron Asheton back on guitar). In 2006 the band recorded their first album since 1973’s Raw Power. In seven days, Iggy, Ron Asheton, Scott Asheton and bassist Mike Watt (replacing Dave Alexander, who died in 1975) cut fifteen songs live in the studio for their new LP, The Weirdness
Ron Asheton died in 2009 at the age of 60 in the home in Ann Arbor, Michigan, that he’d first moved into with his parents in 1963.
The band continue to play and tour sporadically with James Williamson on guitar.