Iggy & The Stooges - Biography



By Jeff Hunt

 

The Stooges. Yeah, man, The Stooges. They assigned me that shit. I’m sort of at a loss. I mean, this entry could go either way. I could just describe the band, which would take about one hundred words, because The Stooges are the most straightforward, simple, concise, and exacting band that ever existed – which is why they’re the greatest band that ever existed, hands down; but if I did that, I’d short my word count by 1,400 words, and I wouldn’t get paid. Alternately, I could start talking about the role The Stooges played in my teenage life, and blather on for about 10,000 words, all of it nonsense and gibberish about testosterone and pheromones and females and fucking and not getting fucked and fury and Funhouse and how Funhouse is the template for any successful rock record, and how, if you’re female, and you’re as frustrated with and baffled by our gender as we are with and by yours, and you want to know what it’s like to have a cock, and so much cum inside you that it backs up into your brain and fuses the synapses and turns you into a staggering, clumsy, useless fool, then all you need to do is drop the needle on Funhouse and play “Down on the Street.”

 

Hmm. Well, I guess that sets the tone.

 

So, yeah, we’ll have to reach some sort of compromise. But polite? Not this one.

 

The Stooges also epitomize this really weird thing that happens in rock – well it happens throughout the arts. Heck, it happens throughout history. It’s like it says in the Bible. The last will be first, and the first will be last. The Stooges were totally obscure in their time, but next year they’re going to bomp right into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. True. It’s a done deal. Lester Bangs must be spinning in his grave. The Stooges, man, The Stooges. You can say that there wouldn’t be punk rock without The Stooges, but the first two Stooges LPs are still punker than all of punk rock. They were so far out in 1969 that they were considered a joke. A novelty act. They played with a minimal, militant, military precision at a time when – I mean what part of the year 1969 do you not understand? Woodstock. Crosby, Stills and Nash. And here’s Iggy, demanding, “Now I wanna be your dog – come on!” Man oh man.

 

Little Jimmy Osterberg. And his gigantic, barnyard dick. Slathered in blood, cum, and peanut butter, Hell-bent on destruction. Of everything and everybody: you; himself; the crowd; the stage; the planet. Especially himself. The Stooges hit the stage like a force of nature. It may have been 1969, but, yeah, The Stooges got back to nature, alright – like a flipping cataclysm. They may have burned hot and fast before they blew up for good in drugged oblivion, but they sure burned – like Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9. Remember that? It punched a hole in Jupiter so hard that it still burns black. That was Iggy Pop and The Stooges.

 

Iggy on vocals; Ron Asheton on guitar; Dave Alexander on bass; Scott “Rock Action” Asheton on drums. Formed in 1967 as The Psychedelic Stooges. Drugs. Booze. Nico taught Iggy how to eat pussy. Can you imagine? Nico. Took him to school. Sex. Lots of it. Lots of all of it. Lots and lots and lots of everything. The band performed with relentless self-discipline. That was for the stage, and only the stage. All the rest? Chaos. Ron would play in an SS uniform. I repeat. Full Nazi regalia. I mean, that’s not cool even today, but in 1969 it was so profoundly unmellow, that I can’t even imagine what a harsh toke The Stooges must have been to audiences. Their entire raison d'être was to provoke. They were a living, breathing, loud-as-fuck provocation. Flowers in your hair? Iggy would dare bikers to beat him to shit on stage. And when he was an unconscious, bloody mess, The Stooges still wouldn’t surrender the stage. They didn’t perform concerts; they conducted sieges.

 

Kick Out the Jams, Motherfuckers. How did The Stooges and MC5 get record deals in the first place? But they did. Danny Fields discovered and signed both. And when he was done with that, he discovered and signed The Ramones. Fuck Andrew Jackson. Danny Fields’ face should be on the twenty-dollar bill. The Stooges, MC5, and Creem magazine. Detroit, Rock City. Wandering in the hippie-era wilderness. The Stooges (Elektra, 1969). “1969.” Man. It’s like calling the first track on your debut “2009.” Do you get it? Total urgency; total immediacy; total war. “We own our time, and our time is right the fuck now. Not tomorrow; not yesterday. Right. The fuck. Now.” It still blisters after all these years. John Cale produces. Iggy says all Cale did was stand around in a black cape, coked (like the rest of them) into vampiric oblivion. Maybe so, but this thing sounds great.

 

The Stooges are the model of economy, something sorely lacking in rock. Pink Floyd spent a year in the studio to create Dark Side of the Moon? The Stooges had five songs. "I Wanna Be Your Dog,” "No Fun,” "1969,” "Ann,” and "We Will Fall." That was their live set. They refused to play for more than 20 minutes. Records are supposed to last for 35 or 40 minutes. They turned that shit in, right? Elektra said, “No way.” So they just wrote the rest of the record the night before the next day of the recording session. No problem. The Stooges can stomp into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on the strength of “I Wanna Be Your Dog.” “Ann” annihilates. “No Fun” is total, headbanging fun.

 

Then the band wrote material for a second record, and what they did next should be the template for every decent rock band that ever intends to record. Are you listening? Are you paying attention? They wrote the songs. They went on tour. They played the same six songs over and over and over again. The same six, simple, screaming, screeching rock masterpieces, over and over and over. And then they walked straight into the fucking studio like fucking MEN, with balls so huge that they dragged on the ground, and they recorded Funhouse.

 

Funhouse (Elektra, 1970), is the greatest record ever made.

 

Out of my mind on Saturday night

1970 rollin' in sight

Radio burnin' up above

Beautiful baby, feed my love

 

All night till I blow away

All night till I blow away

I feel alright, I feel alright

 

Baby oh baby, burn my heart

Baby oh baby, burn my heart

Fall apart baby, fall apart

Baby oh baby, burn my heart

 

All night till I blow away

All night till I blow away

 

I feel alright

I feel alright

 

 

“TV Eye” is genius. The entire record is genius. It rocks within an inch of its life. When was the last time you listened to it? Go dig it out.

 

And then it all goes to shit. Dave drinks himself out of the band. And then drinks himself to death. They all become degenerate heroin junkies. Iggy is a mess, even for being Iggy Pop. James Williamson comes in on guitar, and he’s more – I mean, he can play and all, but maybe that’s the problem. Ron Asheton was, like, a minimalist master. He’d give Tony Conrad a run for his money. Then Iggy starts hanging out with Lou Reed and David Bowie, and you know that can’t be good. And The Stooges get dumped by Elektra, and the band breaks up and Bowie brings Pop and Williamson to the UK to record and they try to replace the Ashetons with Brits, but can’t, so they let the Ashetons back in the band, but bump Ron to bass, which sucks, and they make Raw Power  (Columbia, 1973) and it’s great, and it’s got “Search and Destroy,” but it’s flawed, and the David Bowie “mix” is a joke, especially compared to the genius engineering that went into Funhouse, and then they really do break up.

 

And that’s The Stooges. And they got me through all sorts of teenage, loveless, aggressive, adolescent angst; and girls, I meant it about the cock and cum bit. Funhouse. That is exactly what it is like.

 

 

 

[end]

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