“Lemmy is gone. Bowie is gone. He’s the last of the one-and-onlys,” Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme said in an interview with the Guardian. He’s right: there may be more famous rock stars than Iggy Pop but there are none so brilliantly strange.
With the release of the Homme-produced Post Pop Depression, the singer once again proves why we have found his visceral and oftentimes confrontational art so compelling over the years. It’s brutally honest music that reflects the tempestuous life of an artist who has experienced the most violent extremes of a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. From Pop’s early days with The Stooges to his unlikely transformation into a successful Hollywood actor, we bring you 14 things you need to know about the Godfather of Punk.
April 21, 1947: James Newell Osterberg, Jr. is born in Muskegon, Michigan. His family soon moves to Ypsilanti, where he grows up in a trailer park.
1961-1965: In high school, Osterberg is a stellar student and budding bohemian. In addition to participating in school government, he develops his female alter-ego, Hyacinth, in talent shows.
1967: Osterberg forms The Psychedelic Stooges with Ron and Scott Asheton and Dave Alexander. Fueled by LSD, the quartet’s initial sound is wildly avant-garde and oftentimes includes a roaring vacuum cleaner as an instrument.
1968: Already calling himself “Iggy,” a named derived from his first group, The Iguanas, Osterberg takes on the last name “Pop.” Though its origins are disputed, one story claims the singer is given the name when Jimmy Pop, a close friend who had lost all his hair, inspires Osterberg to shave off his own eyebrows — just for the hell of it, apparently.
June 15, 1973: Iggy & the Stooges play Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom. With his chest smeared in mayonnaise and dog poop, the frontman stage dives into the audience, in the process pioneering what is to become a tradition at punk and metal concerts worldwide.
February 9, 1974: The band headlines Detroit’s Michigan Palace (a performance captured on 1976’s Metallic K.O.). In addition to unleashing a x-rated “Louie Louie,” he jumps into the audience to pick a fight with a biker heckling him. Pop gets beaten so badly he requires medical attention.
Late 1974: Now residing in L.A., Pop parties non-stop with good friend David Bowie. After several arrests, the LAPD offer him a choice: prison or a mental hospital. The singer opts to check into the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Hospital, where he is diagnosed with hypomania, a form of bipolar disorder.
March 21, 1976: Pop and Bowie are busted for marijuana in Rochester, New York. After charges are dropped, they relocate to Berlin where they temporarily wean themselves off drugs. Pop records the iconic Lust for Life album.
March 15, 1983: Pop hooks up with Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones and Blondie’s rhythm section to record the title track to cult flick Repo Man. According to Chas Ferry, assistant to sound engineer Bev Jones, Pop writes the classic song less than 20 minutes before recording it.
May 26, 1995: Director Jim Jarmusch’s art house film Dead Man debuts at Cannes. In the visionary western, Pop plays Salvatore “Sally” Jenko, a cross-dressing, Bible-thumping fur trader. A naturally gifted actor, Pop’s film and television career has included everything from an appearance in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine to a voiced role in the children’s animated feature The Rugrats Movie.
March 6, 2007: The Stooges reunite for The Weirdness, the band’s first full-length in nearly a quarter century. It’s produced by sonic maverick Steve Albini, who has also worked with Nirvana, PJ Harvey and the Pixies.
April 8, 2008: Paul Trynka’s biography, Iggy Pop: Open Up and Bleed, is published. It contains a wealth of juicy stories. Singer, model and legendary Playboy Playmate Bebe Buell describes Pop as a “walking sex machine.” The two hooked up in the mid ’70s, during which time she also dated Todd Rundgren and Steven Tyler. Buell is Liv Tyler’s mother.
February, 2016: In an interview with Beats 1’s Matt Wilkinson, the icon reveals that Post Pop Depression may be his final album. “I feel like I’m closing up after this,” he says. If and when he does retire (we’re not so sure he will), rock ’n’ roll will be forced to say goodbye to one of its most unique, outlandish and gifted artists.