The Stooges are widely considered to be founders of punk rock. Although they weren't around for long, their influence on punk and grunge is huge. The band also saw the start of the career of Iggy Pop.
Iggy Pop was born Jimmy Osterberg on April 21, 1947. In the early 1960's, Osterberg was known as Iggy Iguana as he was in a band called Iggy and the Iguanas. The Stooges formed in Michigan in 1967. Iggy was the singer, brothers Ron and Scott Asheton (guitar and drums) and bassist Dave Alexander made up the band's line up. By this time, Osterberg had changed his name to Iggy Pop. Pop and the Stooges were notorious for their live performance, mostly thanks to Pop. Pop would move around the stage shirtless and often self-mutilate and also stage dive. In 1968, the Stooges were signed to Elekra Records. Elekra was home to the Doors, a band that the Stooges admired deeply. Producing their debut album was former Velvet Underground member John Cale. When Jack Holtzman of Elektra saw they didn't have an album worth of material, he put them in a hotel room and told them to stay there until they had an album. Once they did, the band started recording. Sometimes, Cale's old Velvet Underground friend Nico would stop by. Pop, who had an affair with Nico during this time, remembers Nico knitting in the control room. The Stooges was released in August 1969. The album had the simple "1969" and "No Fun" and the rocker "I Wanna Be Your Dog". Despite what people think of the album today, it was a failure at the time.
In 1970, Fun House was released. For the album, the band was teamed up with saxophonist Steve Mackay. The studio was set up as if it were a stage. The album had the sinister "Down on the Street" and "Loose" and the loud and proud "T.V. Eye". Like the debut album, Fun House did nothing. It is, however, considered by most listeners as the better album as it captured the energy of their live performances. The band finally made it on June 13 that year when they performed at the Cincinnati Pop Festival. Pop had the crowd going nuts and during "T.V. Eye", the audience was carrying Iggy. There in the crowd, someone handed Iggy a jar of peanut butter. Iggy proceeded to smear the peanut butter on his chest and then threw some at the audience. Today, it's considered one of the most iconic moments in punk rock history. In August, Dave Alexander was fired after seeing he was too drunk to perform (Alexander later died from pulmonary edema in 1975). Zeke Zettner then the following year, James Recca, replaced Alexander. When the band had Zettner, the band added a second guitarist named Billy Chetham. Guitarist James Williamson soon replaced him. The band was still going nowhere and drugs were in the mix. The band was known for being heroin users. Iggy was so messed up that he could barely stand up during performances. As a result, Elektra dropped the band. This sent the band on hiatus for a few months.
In September 1971, Iggy Pop met David Bowie. Bowie was a fan of the Stooges and offered to help Pop. Bowie took Pop and James Williamson to the UK and got them signed to Columbia Records. After failing to find any local musicians, Pop invited the Asheton brothers except this time; Ron Asheton was demoted to bass player. The band started to perform again and record a third album. That album, Raw Power, was released in 1973. The album failed to do anything but it would become a massive influence on many. David Bowie produced the record but not to Pop's satisfaction. Pop would later remix the album in 1997 to mixed critical reaction. After adding keyboardist Bob Sheff (then quickly replacing him Scott Thurston), the band rehearsed material for a possible fourth album. This never happened as Columbia dropped the band after the failure of Raw Power. The band kept performing until February 1974 when they broke up. The band's last performance (along with one other performance) is documented on 1976's Metallic K.O..
David Bowie didn't give up on Iggy Pop. In 1977, Pop released two hit albums called The Idiot and Lust for Life. In 1979, he released New Values with James Williamson producing. Pop's solo career was successful but in the early 1980's, Pop was unable to record after one too many bad selling albums. Bowie helped by covering some of the songs he wrote with Iggy such as "China Girl" and "Tonight". This got Iggy performing again. In 2003, Pop and the Asheton brothers reformed the Stooges with Mike Watt on the bass and Steve Mackay back on the saxophone. In 2007, a new Stooges album called The Weirdness was released to mixed reviews. In January 2009, Ron Asheton was found dead in his hotel room. It wasn't until May when Iggy announced James Williamson would be returning on guitar. The band is now touring and will be inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame in March 2010.
Recommended albums: The Stooges, Fun House, and Raw Power
Personal thoughts on the albums: That’s right: get them all. If you must know my favorite, I’ll have to say Fun House. Also, there’ll be people telling you which version of Raw Power you should get. Just get the one you see, which will probably be the 1997 remix. Some people think this is the better mix and is the way the album should be. If you want the David Bowie mix, that’ll be coming out in a three disc box set in April.
Recommended songs: 1969, I Wanna Be Your Dog, No Fun, We Will Fall, Down on the Street, Loose, T.V. Eye, 1970, Dirt, Search and Destory, Gimme Danger, Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell, Raw Power, Shake Appeal
Recommended complitations: There are none! However, there are compilations out with Stooges material on it along with Iggy Pop’s solo material.