The Stooges are an American rock band that was active from 1967 to 1974, then reformed in 2003. The Stooges sold few records in their original incarnation and often performed for indifferent or hostile audiences. Nevertheless, The Stooges are often regarded as hugely influential in alternative rock, heavy metal and, especially, punk rock. Singer Iggy Pop and his often-outrageous onstage performances were often the main focus of attention. They reformed in 2003, with bassist Mike Watt replacing the deceased Dave Alexander. The Stooges have been nominated for possible 2009 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
(born James Newell Osterberg) played in several Ann Arbor, Michigan
-area bands as a teenager, including The Iguanas
and later The Prime Movers
. The Prime Movers nicknamed Osterberg 'Iggy' in reference to his earlier band.
Osterberg was first inspired to form The Stooges after meeting blues drummer Sam Lay during a visit to Chicago. He returned to Detroit with the idea that simply copying established blues performers wasn't enough — he wanted to create a whole new form of blues music. Brothers Ron (guitar) and Scott Asheton (drums), along with their friend Dave Alexander (bass guitar) rounded out the rest of the band, with Osterberg taking vocal duties. The three nicknamed Osterberg "Pop" after a local character whom Osterberg resembled. Shortly after witnessing an MC5 concert in Ann Arbor, Osterberg began using the stage name Iggy Pop, a name that he has used ever since.
The band's debut was at a Halloween concert at the their house in State Street in 1967. They did not play live again until January 1968. During this early period, The Stooges were originally billed as the "Psychedelic Stooges" at the Grande Ballroom in Detroit, Michigan, and other venues, where they played with the MC5 and others. At one of their early Grande Ballroom performances, Asheton's guitar neck separated from the body and forced the band to shut down during the opening song "I Wanna Be Your Dog".
The group's early sound was very different from their later music; critic Edwin Pouncey writes,
- The Stooges' early musical experiments were more avant garde than punk rock, with Pop incorporating such household objects as a vacuum cleaner and a blender into an intense wall of feedback that one observer described as sounding like "an airplane was landing in the room." Homemade instruments were also incorporated to flesh out the overall sound. The 'Jim-a-phone' involved pushing feedback through a funnel device which was raised and lowered to achieve the best effect. There was also a cheap Hawaiian guitar which Pop and guitarist Ron Asheton would take turns in plucking to produce a simulated sitar drone, while drummer Scott Asheton pounded away at a set of oil drums with a ball hammer.
The Stooges soon gained a reputation for their wild, primitive live performances. Pop, especially, won fame for his outrageous onstage behaviour—smearing his naked chest with hamburger meat and peanut butter, cutting himself with shards of glass, and flashing his genitalia to the audience. At one concert, he played a vacuum cleaner like a musical instrument. Pop is also sometimes credited with the invention or popularization of stage diving
In 1968, The Stooges were signed by Elektra Records, who had sent a scout named Danny Fields to see the MC5. He wound up signing both acts. (Fields would later go on to discover and manage The Ramones.)
1969 saw the release of their self-titled debut album The Stooges, but it did not sell very well, nor was it well received by critics at the time. Legend has it that half of the album was written the night before the first session, which was produced by former Velvet Underground bassist John Cale. A second album, Fun House, followed in 1970. Many consider Fun House to be the best representation of The Stooges, as the main goal of the album was to capture the manic energy of their live performances. On June 13 of that year, television captured footage of the band at the Cincinnati Pop Festival. While performing the songs "TV Eye" and "1970", Pop leapt into the crowd, where he was hoisted up on people's hands, and proceeded to smear peanut butter all over his chest. In a broadcast interview at WNUR Northwestern University radio station in Evanston IL in 1984, Stiv Bator of Lords of the New Church and the Dead Boys confirmed the long-standing rumor that it was he who had provided the peanut butter, having carried a large tub from his home in Youngstown, OH and handing it up to Iggy from the audience. It has since become an iconic rock image.
Fun House, like the debut album, was poorly received by both the general public and the critics. Alexander was fired from the band in August 1970 after showing up at the Goose Lake International Music Festival too drunk to play. He was replaced by a succession of new bass players: Zeke Zettner and James Recca. Around this time, the band expanded their line-up, adding saxophonist Steve MacKay and then a second guitar player, roadie Billy Cheatham. Cheatham was quickly replaced by James Williamson.
At this point, The Stooges (with the notable exception of Ron Asheton) had all become serious heroin users, with Pop being the worst example. The drug was introduced to the band by new manager John Adams. Their performances became even more unpredictable, and Pop often had trouble standing up on stage due to his extreme drug abuse. Elektra soon (July 1971) dropped The Stooges from its roster, and the band went on hiatus for several months. The final line-up was Iggy Pop, the Asheton brothers, Jimmy Recca and James Williamson.
Raw Power and breakup
With the band in limbo, Pop met David Bowie
in September 1971, and the pair became good friends. Bowie, then at the height of his Ziggy Stardust
-era fame, brought Pop and Williamson to the UK, and got them a deal with Columbia Records
. The pair attempted to reconstitute The Stooges with British musicians, but finding nobody suitable, brought the Asheton brothers back into the band (this "second choice" decision rankled Ron Asheton, as did his change from guitar to bass). This line-up, billed as "Iggy & The Stooges", recorded their third album, the massively influential Raw Power
(1973), which Bowie mixed. This album would go on to become one of the cornerstones of early punk rock
, although the album sold rather poorly, and was regarded as a commercial failure at the time of its release.
Now augmented by a piano player (briefly Bob Sheff and then Scott Thurston) The Stooges toured for several months before disbanding in February 1974 as a result of Pop's ever-present heroin addiction and erratic behaviour (at least off stage, as many people around the band acknowledged that while performing or rehearsing, Iggy had more focus). The band's last-ever performance was captured on the classic live album Metallic K.O..
After going through rehab, Pop began a solo career in 1976 (most influentially with the albums The Idiot
and Lust for Life
). In March 1977, Pop toured with a backing band consisting of David Bowie (keyboards), Ricky Gardiner (guitar), and brothers Tony Sales
(bass) and Hunt Sales
(drums), sons of Soupy Sales
. The Asheton brothers formed a band named The New Order
(not to be confused with the U.K. band New Order
), which quickly fell apart. Ron Asheton later joined Destroy All Monsters
, while Williamson
worked with Pop as a producer and engineer during his early solo career. Dave Alexander died of pancreatitis
In 2000, Scott Puffer, a commentator and DJ for KRUU-FM in Fairfield, Iowa, and a long-time guitarist and band member in that town, was with J Mascis
with famous Indian saint Mata Amritananda Mayi (aka Ammaji) in Ann Arbor. Scott had been hawkishly promoting the idea to Mascis to contact Ron Asheton, who coincidentally lived in Ann Arbor; Mascis already had the number but was reluctant. Finally, Scott got the number from Mascis and called Asheton himself as a promoter and rep for Mascis, leaving Mascis's number. Asheton called Mascis back, and they got along well, as Puffer had predicted. Later Scott Asheton was invited also. Mike Watt played bass. Some were calling them "The New Stooges" until Pop showed up years later being impressed. At that point, Pop decided to revive the Stooges and Mascis reunited with members of his band Dinosaur Jr
. The Stooges reunited in 2003, appearing on the Skull Ring
album with Pop on vocals, Scott Asheton on drums, and Ron Asheton on both guitar and bass. The Stooges have performed a series of live shows in the United States
, with Mike Watt
of The Minutemen
on bass completing the lineup and Fun House
saxophonist Steve MacKay
rejoining as well. Their Detroit homecoming show, postponed by the 2003 North America blackout
, was immortalized on the DVD Live in Detroit
. They have since contributed a cover of Junior Kimbrough
's "You Better Run
" to a tribute album for the late blues artist, and completed an album of all-new material for 2007 release with Steve Albini
producing. On December 11
, 2006, the final album title of The Weirdness
was announced after the album was mastered at Abbey Road Studios
in London, England
On August 16
, Elektra Records
and Rhino Records
issued newly remastered 2-CD editions of the first two Stooges albums, featuring the original album on disc one and outtakes (including alternate mixes, single versions, etc.) on disc two. Unlike the Raw Power
reissue, these remasters stayed more faithful to the original mixes.
The Stooges played three dates in August 2005, the first at the Leeds Festival
on Friday the 26th. This was followed by a date at the Reading Festival
on the 28th, at which the crowd shouted "Iggy" repeatedly, with even non-fans enjoying his wild stage antics. These included pretending to make love to a guitar amplifier and climbing down from the stage and shaking hands with members of the audience.
The next date, on August 30, 2005, was a special one-off show at London's Hammersmith Apollo (their first London performance since 1972, and only their second London show ever), performing their entire Fun House album followed by songs from the first album and Skull Ring. The show, which was the first in the All Tomorrow's Parties-organised "Don't Look Back" concert series, sold out well in advance and was rapturously received by the music press and the fans – which incidentally invaded the stage – alike.
In September of that same year, The Stooges were nominated yet again to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The Stooges have been nominated six times for the Hall of Fame, but have yet to receive the requisite number of votes to be inducted.
In January 2006, Iggy and the Stooges toured Australia and New Zealand for the Big Day Out music festival. They have also played in festivals through Europe and South America.
In December 2006 Iggy and the Stooges co-headlined the All Tomorrow's Parties Festival in Minehead with Sonic Youth and the MC5.
On February 3, 2007, they played at the wedding of Bam Margera and Missy Rothstein (now Margera).
Beginning in March 2007, The Stooges are set to play a couple of festivals (including Electric Picnic in Ireland) and a ten-city U.S. tour in April. Bassist Mike Watt told Bass Player magazine that he expects most of his 2007 to be dominated by Stooges duties, suggesting that more tour dates in the U.S. and elsewhere are in the planning stages.
In April 2007, The Stooges celebrated Pop's 60th birthday on the stage of San Francisco's Warfield theater.
In May 2007 they played in Memphis, Tennessee, at the Beale Street Music Festival.
On June 23, 2007, The Stooges played at the Glastonbury Festival. The performance ended with a stage invasion when Pop invited the audience up onto the stage to sing and dance along with "Real Cool Time". The crowd increased in size as Pop performed "No Fun". It took some time before the crowd was cleared and the performance was able to continue, but there was no crowd trouble reported.
On August 5, 2007, The Stooges played the Lollapalooza festival in Chicago. Highlights of the set included "I Wanna Be Your Dog" and "No Fun", during which Pop incited a near riot by inviting the crowd onto the stage.
A biopic of Pop entitled The Passenger is currently in the works chronicling both Pop's and The Stooges' entire career; Elijah Wood is cast to play Pop.
On March 10, 2008 Iggy appeared at Madonna's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. Together with The Stooges he sang raucous versions of two Madonna hits "Burning Up" and "Ray of Light". Before leaving the stage he looked directly at Madonna quoting "You make me feel shiny and new, like a virgin, touched for the very first time." from "Like A Virgin". According to guitarist Ron Asheton, Madonna asked The Stooges to perform in her place, as a protest to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for not inducting The Stooges despite six appearances on the nomination ballot.
At the Madrid Electric Weekend they performed "Search and Destroy" for the first time since 1974. Recently they added 'I Got A Right' to their setlist.
In the early morning hours of August 4, 2008, the Stooges' equipment truck, containing all of their gear (including a prototype of Ron Asheton's signature model Reverend Flying V guitar and Mike Watt's 1965 Gibson SG Bass) was stolen outside of their Montreal, Quebec hotel..
September 22, 2008 The Stooges were announced to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
September 24, 2008 The Stooges played at B1 club in Moscow with highlights including "I wanna be your dog" and "Raw Power" as the closing song.
- Iconic punk writer Lester Bangs was especially fond of Iggy and The Stooges, and championed them in many of his magazine columns.
- The Sex Pistols recorded the first high profile Stooges cover, "No Fun", in 1976, introducing The Stooges to a new generation of audiences, particularly in England, where Pop was then based. Sid Vicious also regularly performed "I Wanna Be Your Dog", "Search and Destroy" and "Shake Appeal (Tight Pants)" in his post-Pistols solo shows, and both songs feature on his Sid Sings album.
- The first album by a British punk band, The Damned's Damned Damned Damned concludes with "I Feel Alright", a cover of The Stooges' "1970" under its accepted alternate title. Another British punk quartet, Charged GBH, also covered "I Feel Alright" on their album City Baby's Revenge.
- Jello Biafra says he bothered his whole neighborhood as a kid by blasting Stooges records on his stereo. He also says he bought the first Ramones album because "they looked like they played music in the style of the Stooges."
- The Dictators included a cover of "Search and Destroy" on their 1977 album Manifest Destiny.
- In 1982 The Birthday Party released Drunk on the Pope's Blood, a live EP with a belting version of "Loose". On multiple occasions, the Birthday Party performed entire sets of Stooges covers. Their live version of "Fun House" can be found on their live album "Live 1981-82."
- In 1983 Sonic Youth recorded a cover of the song "I Wanna Be Your Dog" on Confusion Is Sex. Thurston Moore has said when he was starting to play guitar, he would play Stooges songs when he got frustrated.
- Henry Rollins devoted much of a 1985 Spin magazine article to Fun House (the rest was about the Velvet Underground's White Light/White Heat - Rollins considered these to be the two best rock records ever made); in his 1994 book Get In The Van: On The Road With Black Flag, he would also declare of Fun House, "Everybody should own a copy of that album."
- Kurt Cobain consistently listed Raw Power as his #1 favorite album of all time in his "Favorite Albums" lists from his Journals.
- Guns N' Roses included a cover of "Raw Power" on their 1993 covers album, "The Spaghetti Incident?".
- In the mid 1990s thrash band Slayer recorded a cover of the song "I Wanna Be Your Dog" with some altered lyrics and an altered title ("I'm Gonna Be Your God") for their hardcore cover album Undisputed Attitude.
- Jack White (White Stripes) has said Fun House is the best rock and roll album ever made.
- In August 1995, all three Stooges albums were included in British music magazine Mojo's influential "100 Greatest Albums of All Time" feature. Fun House was placed the highest, at 16.
- The late 1990s saw two significant Stooges record releases. In 1997 a version of Raw Power remixed by Pop was released to widespread acclaim. The result was far more aggressive than the original release, which had been mixed in one day by David Bowie. Two years later, re-issue label Rhino Handmade released the seven disc box set 1970: The Complete Fun House Sessions. Just 3,000 copies were pressed and the box set is now a collectors' item, although selections featured on the Fun House 2-CD reissue in 2005, and the entire box set was released as a digital download on the iTunes Music Store.
- Lead singer of Gypsy Punk band Gogol Bordello, Eugene Hutz, says this about Fun House: "the usual, you know, the best rock album ever made."
- Most recently, The Stooges got a boost of notoriety with their single "Search and Destroy" being featured in RedOctane's Guitar Hero II for the Playstation 2.
- The Red Hot Chili Peppers recorded a cover of "Search and Destroy" during the sessions for Blood Sugar Sex Magik; the song appeared on the B-side of the "Give It Away" single, and later on the Iggy Pop tribute CD We Will Fall and the compilation CD Under the Covers. They also played "I Wanna Be Your Dog" live
- In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked The Stooges #78 on their list of 100 of the most influential artists of the past 50 years.
- Skateboarding team S.A.D. (skate and destroy) got their name for The Stooges' single "Search and Destroy".
- Mission of Burma released a live cover version of "1970" on their then-posthumous live album The Horrible Truth About Burma.
- The Norwegian punk band Wannskrækk recorded a tribute to the song "I Wanna Be Your Dog" called "Doggen" ("The Dog" in English).
- During his last tour before his death, Joe Strummer regularly performed cover versions of "1969".
- Joey Ramone's posthumous album Don't Worry About Me also featured a cover of "1969".
- The Sisters of Mercy recorded "1969" for the Alice EP and performed the song regularly on stage. It can also be found on the Some Girls Wander by Mistake compilation.
- Nebula recorded a version of I Need Somebody on their album To the Center with Mudhoney's Mark Arm on vocals.
- Serbian punk rock band Goblini recorded a cover version of No Fun on their 1997 live album Turneja U Magnovenju '96/97.
- Welsh band Stereophonics recorded a cover of "I Wanna Be Your Dog" during the sessions for their Language. Violence. Sex. Other? album. The song appeared as a b-side on the Superman single and was played often during their 2005 world tour.
- In 2007, R.E.M. performed "I Wanna Be Your Dog" with Patti Smith in their induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
- Rage Against the Machine covered the song "Down on the Street" on their 2000 album Renegades.
- The Black Keys covered No Fun on their 2004 EP The Moan
- The Stooges have been nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame numerous times.
- Iggy Pop - vocals (1967–1974, 2003–present)
- Ron Asheton - guitar (only guitarist 1967–1970 and 2003–present; with Bill Cheatham 1970, then with James Williamson 1970-71); bass (1972–1974)
- Mike Watt - bass (2003–present)
- Scott Asheton - drums (1967–1974, 2003–present)
- Steve MacKay - saxophone (1970–1971, 2003–present)
- The Stooges (Elektra, August 1969, remastered, expanded, and reissued by Rhino/Elektra, 2005)
- Fun House (Elektra, July 1970, remastered, expanded, and reissued by Rhino/Elektra, 2005)
- Raw Power (Columbia, February 1973, remixed by Iggy Pop and reissued by Legacy/Columbia, 1998)
- The Weirdness (Virgin, CD released March 6, 2007 - LP released March 20, 2007)
References and footnotes