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Music / Iggy Pop

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"I am the passenger,
and I ride and I ride,
I ride through the city's backsides,
I see the stars come out of the sky,
Yeah, the bright and hollow sky,
You know it looks so good tonight."
— "The Passenger"

The Godfather of Punk, the Passenger, the World's Forgotten Boy and a mainstay in rock and roll since 1969, Iggy Pop (born April 21, 1947) may be one of the most energetic, threatening and exciting performers in the genre.

Born as James Newell Osterberg in Muskegon, Michigan, Iggy was one of many teenagers whose life was made more colorful by Rock & Roll. In high school in Ann Arbor, Michigan, he played the drums for a band called The Iguanas. He stayed in the Ann Arbor music scene for a brief period studying at the University of Michigan, during which time he joined a blues band called The Prime Movers. This inspired him to drop out and move to Chicago to study the blues more thoroughly. He seemed for a time like he was embarking on a career in the Chicago blues scene...until James Brown and The Doors inspired him to do something completely different.

Moving back to Ann Arbor, he founded a band with bass player Dave Alexander and the brothers Ron (guitar) and Scott (drums) Asheton, where he became the frontman. Initially called the Psychedelic Stooges, the band was a Psychedelic Rock band as there were thirteen in a dozen near the end of The '60s. Under a new name, The Stooges, the band eventually made the bridge between the peace-loving hippie crowd and the proto-punk music that would shape The '70s towards Punk Rock.

Iggy was The Face Of The Band. He was an exciting and outrageously energetic performer during stage shows, just all movement. You couldn't take his eyes off him and often his antics were so audacious that a large part of the crowd actually felt frightened of him at times. Iggy smeared himself with peanut butter, rolled around in broken glass and even jumped into the crowd (which later became known as stage diving and crowd-surfing), all while baiting and verbally abusing his audience. This alienated a large part of the crowd, but attracted a dedicated cult audience. Their three albums, The Stooges (1969), Fun House (1970) and Raw Power (1973) are now cult classics, but didn't sell well at the time. The band also suffered under extreme heroin and alcohol abuse. After David Bowie produced the Stooges' third and final album Raw Power (1973) the band had a Grand Finale with a grandiose album in every sense of the word, but nevertheless split soon afterwards.

Bowie then helped Iggy with getting a solo career on the road. Iggy provides backing vocals on Bowie's song "What in the World" from Low (1977), while Bowie produced Iggy's debut album The Idiot and Lust for Life (both also from 1977), which launched Iggy as a rock star in his own right. His third album, New Values (1979), went back to his roots with the Stooges and therefore met with lesser sales. His next albums Soldier (1980) and Party (1981) didn't fare well either and he was dropped from his label. Zombie Birdhouse (1982) didn't change anything, but when Bowie covered "China Girl" (a song from The Idiot) on his album Let's Dance, the royalties and interest revitalized public interest in Iggy Pop. Bowie produced and co-wrote his next album, Blah Blah Blah, which spawned the UK Top 10 Hit "Real Wild Child". Instinct (1988) saw Iggy again returning to Stoogesque rock and once again he was dropped by the label. Virgin Records signed him instead and his next album Brick by Brick (1990) was his best album in years, with the lead single "Candy" (a duet with Kate Pierson from The B-52s) becoming a US Top 20 hit. As Iggy's career rolled on interest in his work was solidified by use of his music in Trainspotting (1996), frequent touring and covers of his songs by other artists.

Iggy has also acted a few times, mostly in the films of Jim Jarmusch, among which Coffee and Cigarettes (with Tom Waits) and Dead Man, where he appears in drag. He also appeared in Sid & Nancy (1986), The Color of Money (1986), Cry-Baby (1990), Tank Girl and The Crow: City of Angels. He also appeared as Yelgrun in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, as a man with a whiplash injury in Snow Day (2000), gave voice contributions to Once Upon A Time In Wonderland, Rock and Rule, The Rugrats Movie and the English dub of Persepolis.

Has nothing to do with Iggy Azalea.


  • Kill City (demos recorded in 1975 with the Stooges' second guitarist, James Williamson; not released until 1977)
  • The Idiot (1977) (produced by David Bowie)
  • Lust for Life (1977) (produced by David Bowie)
  • New Values (1979)
  • Soldier (1980)
  • Party (1981)
  • Zombie Birdhouse (1982) (produced by Chris Stein of Blondie)
  • Blah Blah Blah (1986) (produced by David Bowie)
  • Instinct (1988)
  • Brick by Brick (1990)
  • American Caesar (1993)
  • Naughty Little Doggie (1995)
  • Beat 'Em Up (2001)
  • Skull Ring (2003)
  • Préliminaires (2009)
  • Après (2012)
  • Post Pop Depression (2016) (produced by Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age)
  • Free (2019)
  • Every Loser (2023)

Iggy Pop's work provides examples of:

  • Ballad of X: "The Ballad of Cookie McBride" from Zombie Birdhouse.
  • Blah, Blah, Blah: The name of one of Iggy's solo albums.
  • Careful with That Axe: Iggy can shriek, moan and yell ear piercingly loud during performances.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: "Head On", from his album Metallic K.O. where Iggy rants about in all kinds of expletives.
  • Cool Old Guy: You can't get much cooler than inventing stage diving and Punk Rock.
  • Concept Album: Post Pop Depression is from the point of view of a war veteran reflecting on his place in life.
  • Dancing Is Serious Business: Iggy is a very energetic dancer on stage, literally possessed by the music. He has once stated in an interview that he was very much inspired by James Brown.
  • Darker and Edgier: He is infamous from bringing back a sense of danger and excitement to rock 'n' roll that caused outrage during the final years of The '60s when most of the music was still into the "peace and love" realms of flower power. Musically The Stooges were one of the pinnacles of proto-punk and therefore Iggy had no problems being accepted by the Punk Rock movement, which he more or less paved the road for.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Iggy seems to like appearing in black and white on his album covers, as The Idiot and Lust for Life demonstrate.
  • Dog Food Diet: while the song "Dog Food" is nominally about this, it is more a denunciation of fads and snobbery.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Despite being a frequent abuser himself Iggy has written a lot of anti-drugs songs, especially against heroin, such as "Dum Dum Boys", "Tonight", "Turn Blue" and "Lust for Life".
  • Expository Theme Tune: He wrote and performed the opening song of the Space Goofs animated series. The show's producer Marc du Pontavice simply asked him, he watched the pilot and, in Du Pontavice's own words, "fell in love" with the concept.
  • Friendly Rivalry: With Henry Rollins, who has always been vocal about his love for The Stooges and Iggy. As Henry tells it, his entire stage presence is built on one thing: trying to be a more compelling performer than Iggy. The one time he came close (exhausting himself to the point that he could barely walk and was hyperventilating), Iggy just got mad that Henry had done so well, and proceeded to turn up his own efforts even more than usual, utterly crushing any dream Henry had of winning the contest.
    Henry Rollins: Then you realize, you're never gonna beat the master.
  • Location Song: It's never stated in the lyrics, but "Butt Town" is about Los Angeles.
  • Made of Iron: Despite his history of drug and alcohol abuse, Iggy's managed to outlive a good portion of his contemporaries. Most people probably didn't expect him live longer than Lou Reed and David Bowie, yet he's done just that.
  • Male Gaze: Acknowledged in "Butt Town."
    "The tits are amazing
    And everyone's gazing
    At some body part
    That's the nature of art!
  • New Sound Album: Préliminaires and Après. Both albums are Lighter and Softer in tone as Préliminaires is heavily influenced by Jazz and bossa nova, and Après is a Cover Album of his favorite French and jazz songs. In fact, he called Préliminaires his response to being bored sick of the state of rock music.
  • Obsession Song: Many of his songs have the protagonists almost despair over their lustful feelings towards the opposite sex. This was already the case in the days of The Stooges ("I Wanna Be Your Dog" on The Stooges), but also prominent in solo songs such as "Fall in Love with Me" and "Sixteen".
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: His first and last David Bowie solo collaborations, The Idiot and Blah-Blah-Blah, are considerably far-removed from his usual sound. The former is a proto-industrial album that served as a prototype for Bowie's Berlin Trilogy (especially Low), while the latter was a synth-heavy dance-pop album that presaged Bowie's Never Let Me Down; Pop's only continuation of the latter sound was "Risky", a one-off collaboration with Ryuichi Sakamoto.
  • Pep-Talk Song: His music is often raw, fresh and bubbling with life, most noticeable in "Lust for Life".
  • Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll: Iggy's vocal delivery was always sexy, suave and full of lust. He performed in his bare midriff and sang about Intercourse with You topics. Iggy often battled with alcohol and heroin addiction and songs like "Nightclubbing", "Funtime", "Dum Dum Boys" (from The Idiot) and "Lust for Life", "Tonight" (from Lust for Life) condemn the monotone and dangerous lifestyle that goes with it, and "Gardenia" off Post Pop Depression ends with a rant condemning the dingy conditions surrounding the titular stripper.
  • Shout-Out: Now has its own page: Referenced By: Iggy Pop.
  • Silly Love Songs: Iggy's "Candy," a duet with The B-52s' Kate Pierson.
  • Stage Names: Iggy Pop is actually named James Newell Osterberg, and still goes by "Jim" in private. The "Iggy" part came from the fact that he used to drum for a band called The Iguanas while in high school.
    "Hey, you know, you could call me Jim. I mean, you know, my friends call me Jim, or Jimmy, or Iggy, or Jiggy... Call me, call me Iggy!"
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Iggy not only has a tendency to perform bare chested, but also makes public appearances without wearing a shirt. It didn't go unnoticed by caricaturists.
  • Wanderlust Song: "Paraguay" off Post Pop Depression.
  • "When I'm Gone" Song: "American Valhalla" off Post Pop Depression, judging from the line "death is the hardest pill to swallow".