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Iggy & the Stooges Biography


Home > Music > I > Iggy & the Stooges > Biography


Birth Place: Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States
Years Active: 1967-1971, 1972-1974, 2003-present
Genres: Hard Rock, Garage Rock, Protopunk, Punk Rock


Iggy and The Stooges, also known as The Stooges, is an American rock band from Ann Arbor, Michigan, first active from 1967 to 1974, and later reformed in 2003. Although they sold few records in their original incarnation, and often performed for indifferent or hostile audiences, The Stooges are widely regarded as instrumental in the rise of punk rock, as well as influential to alternative rock, heavy metal and rock music at large. The band was founded by vocalist Iggy Pop, guitarist Ron Asheton, bassist Dave Alexander and drummer Scott Asheton.

As high school was drawing to a close, Pop became influenced by the blues band Prime Movers and moved to Chicago in an effort immerse himself into the blues community there. Pop picked up gigs playing drums in local blues clubs, before forming the Psychedelic Stooges and calling himself Iggy.

1968 saw The Stooges sign with Elektra Records. They then released two albums, 1969’s “The Stooges” produced by The Velvet Underground’s John Cale and 1970’s “Fun House,” produced by The Kingsmen’s Don Gallucci and featuring the addition of saxophonist Steve Mackay. However, both albums were unsuccessful and Elektra dropped the band.

Alexander was fired from the band in August 1970 and was replaced by a succession of new bass players, Zeke Zettner and James Recca. Around this time, the band expanded their lineup by adding a second guitar player, roadie Billy Cheatham, who was replaced by James Williamson.

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 United Kingdom and got them a deal with Columbia Records. The pair attempted to reconstitute The Stooges with British musicians, but finding no suitable additions, brought the Asheton brothers back into the band.

This lineup, billed as Iggy & the Stooges, recorded their third album, the influential 1973 LP, “Raw Power.” At the time, the album was criticized by diehard fans who said that Bowie had mixed it poorly. “Raw Power” 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.

With the addition of a piano player (briefly Bob Sheff and then Scott Thurston), The Stooges toured for several months, starting in February 1973. Around this time they also made a number of recordings that became known as the “Detroit Rehearsal Tapes,” including a number of new songs that might have been included on a fourth studio album had the band not been dropped by Columbia shortly after the release of “Raw Power.”

In early 1973, Williamson was briefly fired due to pressure from the band's management company. Guitarist Tornado Turner replaced him for a single gig, but Williamson soon returned to the group. The Stooges disbanded in February 1974 as a result of Pop's ever-present heroin addiction and erratic behavior. The band's last performance of this era was captured on the 1976 live album “Metallic K.O.”

After going through rehab, Pop embarked upon a successful solo career in 1976, beginning with the albums “The Idiot” and “Lust for Life.” Relocated to Los Angeles, Ron Asheton formed the short-lived band The New Order (not to be confused with the U.K. band New Order), with Stooges alumni Recca and Thurston. Ron Asheton later joined Destroy All Monsters.

Williamson worked with Pop as a producer and engineer during his early solo career – the “Kill City” and “New Values” albums are a product of this collaboration – but began a long break from the music industry in 1980. Scott Asheton performed with Sonic's Rendezvous Band and the Scott Morgan Group. Dave Alexander died of pulmonary edema related to his pancreatitis in 1975.

In 1997 a reissue of “Raw Power” remixed by Pop was released, with a far more aggressive mix than the original release. In 1999, re-issue label Rhino released the seven disc box set “1970: The Complete Fun House Sessions,” composed of the entire recording sessions surrounding the “Fun House” album.

Pop and the Ashetons first reunited in 2003, appearing on four songs on the “Skull Ring” album with Pop on vocals, Scott Asheton on drums and Ron Asheton on both guitar and bass. Shortly thereafter, The Stooges officially reunited, performing a series of live shows in the United States and Europe, with Mike Watt on bass at Ron Asheton's request and “Fun House”-era saxophonist Steve Mackay. Their Detroit homecoming show, postponed by the 2003 North America blackout, was released as the DVD “Live in Detroit.”

In 2007, The Stooges released an album of all-new material, “The Weirdness,” with Steve Albini recording, and mastering done at Abbey Road Studios in London, England. The band also contributed a cover of Junior Kimbrough's “You Better Run” to a tribute album for the late blues artist.

Pop reunited with The Stooges to release “Ready to Die,” in 2013 on the Fat Possum Records label. It was recorded with Jesse Nichols at Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, California.

On January 6, 2009, Ron Asheton was found dead in his home, having reportedly suffered a heart attack several days earlier. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted the band as part of its class of 2010. On March 15, 2014, Scott Asheton died of a heart attack.