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.
One glorious night in the early 1970s, Iggy Pop had an incident with Elton John, who just so happened to be wearing a gorilla suit. It all began when Pop was using during a show in Atlanta. The night before, he used so much, he passed out in the bushes next to a Days Inn. When he woke up, he couldn't talk.
"The preparation for the gig was just [giving] me with enough things to get me up to where I could open my mouth and form a word, but I still couldn't phrase on a beat," he said in an interview for the book Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk.
During The Stooges' set, Elton John came out wearing a gorilla costume. He picked Iggy up from behind. "I was like, 'Oh my god! What can I do? I couldn't fight him. I could barely stand," Iggy said.
Rock photographer Jim Marshall attended the show, and remembers: "Iggy was so [messed] up...he had no idea what was happening to him. Iggy was really shrinking in terror, like he didn't know that it wasn't a real gorilla."
Iggy Pop got married and divorced at 21, in 1968. Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton, who was Iggy's best man, wore a Luftwaffe jacket, Knight's Cross, and an Iron Cross to the ceremony. The bride, Wendy, left Iggy about a month or so after they wed.
"I was free again. I could roam the streets looking like I used to," Iggy reminisces on his wife's departure. During this period, Iggy spent time around high school students, trying to understand what they were interested in and got up to, so he could use it as material for his lyrics. Through this, he met his Betsy.
"I never saw anything like that. She was very cute. She was the exact opposite of my wife - blond, white as snow. She was thirteen and she looked at me penetratingly. So I guess you can figure out what happened next."
As documented in Lester Bangs's now-infamous March 28, 1977, Village Voice article "Iggy Pop: Blowtorch In Bondage," things got extra wild for The Stooges during a show in Warren, Michigan, on February 7, 1974. The crowd was reportedly filled with "hostile" bikers, and Iggy wasn't there to play games.
After a few songs rife with confrontation between the unhinged band, which was coming apart at at the seams, and the agitated bikers, Pop shouted at the crowd “All right, you...wanna hear ‘Louie Louie’? We’ll give you ‘Louie Louie’!” The band proceeded to play Richard Berry's "Louie Louie" for 45 minutes.
Iggy swapped the songs lyrics for vulgar slurs aimed at the bikers. He then jumped off stage and and took on one of the bikers. Bangs hailed the performance a "triumph."
In 1970, The Stooges had a four-day residency at New York City's famed Ungano club, during which the band displayed some of its most outlandish behavior. Recalls Scott Kempner, guitarist for proto punk band The Dictators, who went to a few of these shows: "Iggy put life and limb into every show. I saw him bloody every single show."
Steve Harris, former VP of Elektra records, The Stooges' label (and not to be confused with Iron Maiden's bass player of the same name), recalls: "Iggy took his [junk] out and put it on the speaker. It was just vibrating around. He was very well endowed."
At one show, Iggy spotted superstar model Geri Miller in the audience. He engaged her in the show in a very bizarre way. A year later, while The Stooges were playing at Electric Circus show in NYC, Miller, recalling Iggy's vomiting, egged him on saying, "Let's see you puke." He proceeded to vomit all over Miller.