Iggy Pop turns 70 years old today, despite living such a hard lifestyle in the 1970s that it looked like he had 27 Club written all over him. But becoming a septuagenarian isn't the only surprising thing about the Godfather of Punk. In celebration of his 70th birthday, here are 10 things you might not know about Iggy Pop and The Stooges.
Iggy Pop was born James Newell Osterberg, Jr. He started going by Iggy after drumming for the high school band The Iguanas. And before using Pop as a stage surname, he was credited as Iggy Stooge on The Stooges' eponymous debut album released in 1969, which was also the name of the first track on the album.
2. Musical Influences
People often compare Iggy's brash, aggressive stage persona to Jim Morrison and Mick Jagger, but he says that he was influenced much more by singers James Brown and Jackie Wilson as well as belly dancers (which might explain his penchant for thrashing about sans shirt).
"Morrison and Jagger were the two guys at the time who had it going on [in the 60s]," Pop told GQ in 2011. "So you would watch a little bit of what each guy did and try to use whatever you could to make yourself familiar enough in some sense to the audience that they wouldn’t burn you. You had to start somewhere. I didn’t really take much from either fellow, and they both did a good job, but not like the black guys."
Unfortunately, Brown wasn't a fan of Iggy. Check out Pop recalling how the Godfather of Soul brushed him off when the two ran into each other at the Kensington Hilton in London.
Before going on indefinite hiatus in 1974, The Stooges released three studio albums - 'The Stooges' (1969), 'Fun House' (1970) and 'Raw Power' (1973). All three were later ranked on Rolling Stones' list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (at numbers 185, 191 and 128, respectively), but the group was still relatively obscure on the rock scene until the Sex Pistols started covering their song 'No Fun' in concert.
5. Sex Pistols Cameo
Pop repaid the favor by making a brief, non-speaking cameo in the biopic 'Sid and Nancy' (1986). You can see Iggy walking up the staircase at New York's historic Hotel Chelsea shortly after Gary Oldman - as Sid Vicious - tumbles down them.
Oldman also covered The Stooges' 'I Wanna Be Your Dog' in the film.
The obscurity of The Stooges and their flamboyant frontman was especially baffling to pop art icon Andy Warhol. "I don't know why he hasn't made it really big," Warhol wrote in the foreword to Iggy's 1982 memoir 'I Need More'. "He's so good."
The two first met at a party in 1966, where Iggy was also introduced to Velvet Underground member John Cale, who would later produce The Stooges' debut album.
7. Other Film Roles
On top of the bit part in 'Sid and Nancy,' Iggy has played a pool player in 'The Color of Money' (1986), a cross-dressing fur trader in 'Dead Man' (1995) and the title character in the upcoming horror movie 'The Sandman'.
But one of his best and funniest film roles so far was playing himself opposite the real Tom Waits in a vignette from Jim Jarmusch's anthology film 'Coffee and Cigarettes' (2003).
8. David Bowie's Muse
One of Iggy's oldest and best musical collaborators was the late glam rocker David Bowie, who produced Pop's albums 'The Idiot' (1977) and 'Lust for Life', which included the title song as well as 'The Passenger' - two of Pop's best known solo songs.
9. Pop's Pseudo Biopic
Iggy and Bowie were also the basis for the main characters in the 1998 rock drama 'Velvet Goldmine' (1998). Glam rocker Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) was loosely based on Bowie while Pop inspired the punk rocker Curt Wild (Ewan McGregor).
McGregor also sang a cover of The Stooges' 'T.V. Eye' for the film's soundtrack.
10. Iggy's Strangest Covers
Five years after reuniting, The Stooges stunned fans by performing covers of Madonna's 'Burning Up' and 'Ray of Light' at the Material Girl's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008. The punk rockers weren't exactly who you'd expect to cover the pop princess' hits, and that was the whole point. Madonna asked them to play at the ceremony to draw attention to the fact that The Stooges still hadn't been inducted into in the Hall of Fame despite being eligible for over 10 years at that point.
And the protest worked. The Stooges were inducted into the rock hall two years later in 2010.