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Iggy Pop

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Iggy Pop (born James Newell Osterberg, Jr. on April 21, 1947 in Muskegon, Michigan) is an American punk rock singer. Although he has had only limited commercial success, Pop is considered one of the most important innovators of punk rock and related styles.

Pop was the lead singer of The Stooges, a late 1960s/early 1970s band that was highly influential in the development of hard rock. The Stooges became infamous for their live performances in which Pop leapt off the stage (thus inventing the “stage dive”), smeared raw meat and peanut butter over his chest and cut himself with broken bottles. Many subsequent performers have imitated Pop’s antics.

Although he would never reach the vitality of his days with the Stooges, Pop has had varying degrees of success in his 25 years as a solo artist. His best-known songs include “Lust for Life” and “Candy”. He has also worked as an actor. He played Yelgrun in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Born in Muskegon, Michigan, he began his musical career as a drummer in different high school bands. One band was The Iguanas, where he acquired the name Iggy. After exploring local blues-style bands he eventually dropped out of the University of Michigan and moved to Chicago to learn more about blues. Inspired by Chicago blues, as well as bands like The Doors, he formed The Psychedelic Stooges and adapted his name to Iggy Stooge, then Iggy Pop. The band was composed of Pop on vocals, Ron Asheton on guitar, Ron’s brother Scotty Asheton on drums, and Dave Alexander on bass. After almost two years they made their debut in Ann Arbor, Michigan (where Pop grew up).

One year after their debut, and now dubbed The Stooges, the band were signed to Elektra Records in 1968. The Stooges’ first two albums, The Stooges and Fun House, sold poorly, although they had a lasting influence on the burgeoning punk rock movement. Shortly after the new members joined the band broke up because of Pop's growing drug addiction.

David Bowie salvaged Pop's career by producing an album with him in England. With James Williamson signed on as guitarist, the search began for a rhythm section. However, since neither Iggy nor Bowie were satisfied with any players to be found in England, eventually the decision was made to re-unite The Stooges. It would not be a true reunion, technically, in the sense that Dave Alexander would not play on the album. He had become a full-on alcoholic and would be unable to play on the record. He died from his alcoholism in 1975. Also, Ron Asheton moved from guitar to the bass to make way for Williamson to play guitar. The recording sessions produced the punk rock landmark, Raw Power, in 1973. After the release of the album a new member was added to the band and Bowie continued his support, but Pop's drug problem persisted. The Stooges' last show ended in a fight between the band and a group of bikers, documented on the album Metallic KO. Drug abuse put his career on hold for a couple of years.

Despite Pop's lingering drug problems, Bowie continued his support. Bowie and Pop relocated to Berlin. Pop signed to RCA and Bowie helped write and produce The Idiot and Lust For Life, Pop's two most acclaimed albums as a solo artist. Among songs they wrote together were “China Girl” and “Tonight”, both of which Bowie performed on his own albums. Bowie also played keyboards in Pop's live performances, some of which are featured on the album TV Eye, and helped Pop focus on his career. Another live album featuring Bowie on keyboards is 1977's Sister Midnight. Pop was signed to Arista Records and released more solo albums, such as New Values, Soldier, and Party. His drug habit varied in intensity, but remained, during this period.

In 1983 Pop took a three-year break, during which he overcame his drug addiction and got married. He returned to music in 1986 with the new wave-influenced Blah Blah Blah, featuring the single “Real Wild Child”.

In 1995 he remixed Raw Power to give it a rougher, more hard-edged sound; fans had complained for years that Bowie’s production was too slick and generic. He co-produced 1999’s Avenue B with Don Was, and produced 2001’s Beat 'Em Up, with members of Guns ‘n’ Roses and The B-52s. Pop’s latest album, 2003’s Skull Ring, features collaborations with Sum 41 and Green Day, as well as the Asheton brothers. He also made a guest appearance in electroclash artist Peaches’s song, “Kick It”.

Pop has had limited presence as an actor. To date, Pop has been in fifteen movies, including Sid and Nancy, The Color of Money, Hardware , The Rugrats Movie, Snow Day, Coffee and Cigarettes—Somewhere in California, and Dead Man. He has been featured in five television series, including Miami Vice, Tales from the Crypt, The Adventures of Pete & Pete, and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Although Pop had nothing to do with the movie, Ewan McGregor’s sexually ambiguous, drug-fueled character in Velvet Goldmine is considered by most critics to be modeled on him.

Pop has been profiled in four rockumentaries and composed songs for eighteen soundtracks, including Crocodile Dundee and Trainspotting.

Pop earned a place in punk rock history by popularizing many of the stage routines that are now commonplace among musicians: He was among the first to stage dive and crowd walk, for example. Some of his stage antics have yet to have been topped by even the most “outrageous” of contemporary bands.

Although Pop has never had a Top Ten album or best-selling single, his impact on rock music is immense; musicians who have claimed him as an influence include The Sex Pistols, The Ramones, Nirvana and The Misfits.

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