Cover songs are nothing new, but once in a while
When one thinks of Iggy Pop, the image of an often shirtless imp leaping around onstage comes to mind. I’ll spare you the actual visual here (you’re welcome!). Iggy turns 67 years old this week. While the man born as James Newell Osterberg Jr. is often mentioned in the same breath as the fabulous David Bowie, Iggy is his own creature. Here are some facts to celebrate this godfather of punk rock.
1. Iggy’s stage antics would make Lady Gaga blush: Iggy’s heroin addiction fueled much of his crazy behavior in the 1970s. During live shows, he mutilated himself and rolled around in broken glass. During the Cincinnati Pop Festival of 1970, Iggy went crazy onstage with The Stooges. He repeatedly fell into the audience and covered himself in peanut butter. You can see a video of that incident here.
2. Iggy believes the internet ruined shock value: Speaking to Esquire, Iggy admitted, “Nothing’s shocking anymore. The transfer of information has become so fast, we’re at the point where even the straightest little old lady in Jonesville, South Carolina, is saying, Ah, we’ve heard about that Marilyn Manson and we know what he does at night.”
3. Iggy was invited to replace Jim Morrison: Iggy’s hedonistic ways and outlandish behavior led people to liken him to Jim Morrison of The Doors. Also adding to the comparison were their similar nicknames (Iggy was short for “Iguana” while Jim called himself the “Lizard King”). In an interesting twist, The Doors invited Iggy to join the band after Morrison’s death. Iggy declined.
4. Iggy still can’t send an email: He’s a bit of a technophobe. Iggy admits that he can read an email but never learned how to send one. He told NY Mag that he doesn’t have a smartphone, only “a smart guy with a smartphone and a computer and nothing is in my name ever and I’m scared of it.” However, Iggy does own a flip phone, which he has dropped several times without breaking.
5. Iggy collaborated often with David Bowie: Bowie produced for The Stooges and for Iggy as a solo artist. One of Iggy’s albums, The Idiot, contains the original incarnation of “China Girl.” Bowie later covered this song and turned it into a Top 40 radio smash.
6. Ewan McGregor portrayed “Iggy” in Velvet Goldmine: Sure, the filmmakers switched the character’s name to Curt Wild, but there’s no mistaking what’s really going on here.
7. Iggy insulted Johnny Depp at their first meeting: During a joint interview in The Independent, Johnny admitted acting like a bratty 17-year-old to get Iggy’s attention: “I remember making the horrific decision in my teenage drunken state to go, ‘Well, I’ll just get his attention.’ I started going, ‘I-I-Iggy Pop, Piggy Slop,’ you know? You walked towards me and put your face about a quarter of an inch from mine and just went, ‘You little turd.'” The two later made up and became friends.
8. Iggy nearly became a politician instead of a singer: He once enjoyed a childhood conversation with his father, during which they sang a Frank Sinatra song together: “Fairy tales can come true/It can happen to you/If you’re young at heart.” That was the moment when Iggy decided to be a singer. Then, “as I got older, I realized that might not be realistic. So then I thought, I’ll become a politician.”
9. Iggy as voiceover artist: The narrative voice you hear at the beginning of White Zombie’s “Black Sunshine” is in fact Iggy’s ducile tones. That voiceover sets the tone for the entire song (you can hear the tune here).
10. Iggy knows there’s no money in his records: Iggy and The Stooges have always made their money primarily for touring. He told NPR, “We make an album, everybody complains for the first five years. And after about 10 years, people say, hey, you know, that’s pretty good. The money kicks in about 20 years later.”