Music History
230.5k readers

Bloody and Vomit-Filled Behind-The-Scenes Stories Of Iggy Pop, The Godfather Of Punk

Updated July 14, 2020 230.5k views19 items

The Godfather of Punk, Iggy Pop, is renowned for his musical prowess, magnetic stage presence, outlandish antics, confrontational attitude, predilection for substances, and lust for excess. As a solo artist and as frontman of one of the most legendarily destructive proto-punk acts of all time, The Stooges, Iggy has been involved in crafting some of the most influential albums of all time. Though the term "rock and roll excess" probably conjures images of long-haired, riff-rocking stadium acts, the truth is that many of Iggy and The Stooges escapades most certainly qualify.

For Iggy Pop, born James Newell Osterberg, Jr. on April 21, 1947, substance use was an integral part of being a musician. The Motor City musician tried it all, often right before jumping on stage or giving a well-documented TV interview. Sometimes he couldn't speak or stand after. Other times, as the crazy Iggy Pop stories on this list attest, he defecated on stage, went after bikers, compared himself to Hitler and Jesus in the same interview, and had wild trysts with very young ladies. 

Indeed, Iggy and the Stooges were so entwined in the world of anti-social counter culture, they became one of the most infamous bands in the world, terrifying audiences and scandalizing conservative moms and dads in Middle America. Iggy was known to whip his junk out on stage, vomit on the audience, and smash glass on his chest, while other members of the Stooges whipped him

Iggy Pop has indulged intuition, lust, hedonism, impulse, and artistic whim to such degree his life became a form of art in and of itself.

  • He And His Fellow Stooges Decorated The Walls Of Their Detroit Home In An Odd Way

    In 1969-70, Iggy Pop lived with his band in a Detroit-area home dubbed "Fun House." If that name looks familiar, it's because The Stooges' seminal 1970 album, replete with wailing guitars, screeching saxophones, and extended punk jams, was named after the pad. This house wasn't just where the band wrote and recorded some of their tracks; it was where they loaded up on H. 

    The members of the Stooges had some concerning habits during this period, one of which involved pushing used syringes of body fluids all over the walls and ceilings of their home. As outlined in the book Everybody Must Get Stoned: Rock Stars On Drugs, the band would use H, then squirt the fluid collected in their syringes around the house. 

  • He Sliced Himself To Ribbons At A Show In 1973

    He Sliced Himself To Ribbons At A Show In 1973
    Photo: Wikimedia

    While promoting the release of their third and final (at least for 34 years, until the band reunited) record, Raw Power, in 1973, The Stooges played four nights at Max's Kansas City, a club in New York City. This venue was widely known for being frequented by Andy Warhol and other prominent figures in the New York art scene. One of the performances ended with Iggy Pop spurting blood across the audience.

    Nitebob, who worked at the club at the time and is interviewed in Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History Of Punk, recalls: "Iggy was trying to walk on the tables. Max's had tables all the way up at the front, the stage was too small, and sometimes Iggy would go walking on the tables... I was working the stage that night, and Iggy fell off a table..."

    The table was loaded with glasses, which shattered as Iggy landed on them. Nitebob explains: "He was 20 minutes into the set and I asked him if he wanted to stop the show, because he was cut pretty bad. He had a pretty good gusher going. But he wanted to finish the show, so he went on playing. I was blown away... Alice Cooper wanted him to go to the hospital."

    During the performance, Iggy danced and writhed as normal, spraying all over the audience. Crew tried to seal his wounds with gaffer tape, but failed. The next day, he saw a doctor, and got stiches.

  • He Defecated Onstage Behind The Band's Amplifiers

    Iggy was on his most iconoclastic behavior on July 3, 1973. Not long after lobbing a watermelon into the crowd at the Civic Arena in St. Clair Shores, he defecated on stage. And it wasn't an accident - he actively chose to relieve himself behind the band's Marshall stacks.

    According to Iggy Pop: Open Up and Bleed, Iggy had an "irresistible urge to empty his bowels" a couple of songs into the band's set. Clad in nothing but bikini briefs and knee-high boots, he ran behind the band's amps and went. When he was done, he ran out from behind the amps and started throwing "stuff" at the crowd. Then, he emptied a cup of water, shoved the ice down his briefs, took it out, "sucked it provocatively", and threw it into the crowd. 

  • The First Stooges Show Featured Iggy Dancing On Contact Mikes And A Blender Playing Through The PA

    The First Stooges Show Featured Iggy Dancing On Contact Mikes And A Blender Playing Through The PA
    Photo: Wikimedia

    On Halloween night 1967, the Stooges debuted at a house party in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The show was extremely bizarre, antagonistic, and anti-social - everything the band was about. Iggy appeared wearing a thrift store nightgown and tin-foil wig. Uncertain about his vocal chops, he wanted to find other ways to contribute to the band.  "I had the idea that I could make the sound of the whistling wind," he told Rolling Stone"So I found by putting my thumb over a vacuum cleaner, I think one day I was vacuuming and I went, 'Wow, that's cool!' And later when we started getting gigs, I got a little money and bought an air compressor, because way better! I went professional!"

    As Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton recalled for Please Kill Me"We invented some instruments that we used at that first show. We had a blender with a little bit of water in it and put a mike right down in it, and just turned it on. We played that for like fifteen minutes before we went onstage. It was a great sound, especially going through the PA, all cranked up.