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Iggy Pop: The Rolling Stone Interview

April 19, 2007 12:00 AM ET

Below is an excerpt of an article that originally appeared in RS 1024 from September 3, 1998. This issue and the rest of the Rolling Stone archives are available via Rolling Stone Plus, Rolling Stone's premium subscription plan. If you are already a subscriber, you can click here to see the full story. Not a member? Click here to learn more about Rolling Stone Plus.


After the Stooges' set, Iggy recalls, "I walked out to the middle of the floor, in my shorts with these welts on my body, to talk to the talent agent Frank Barselona about possibly booking the group. He said, 'Iggy, I think in twenty years or so, you're going to be a very important guy. But for now, no thanks.'"

Iggy laughs in a rubbery subterranean growl. Half of the fun of listening to him tell Stooges war stories is his vivid comic delivery. The other half is the survivor's triumph punctuating each tale like a power chord. Iggy Pop — born James Newell Osterberg in Ypsilanti, Michigan, in 1947, the mad lad whose kamikaze drug use and ritualistic physical extremism onstage almost killed him before the mid-Seventies — turns sixty on April 21st.

He is a Stooge again, too. "I'd been in an impossible band, living an impossible life," he says, referring to the notorious on- and offstage chaos that split the Stooges after 1970's Fun Houseand again following 1973's Raw Power. "But never, since I met Ron and Scott, has a voice been raised between us, a fist made. There was nothing in our way." The Stooges (with bassist Mike Watt replacing the late Alexander, who died in 1975) have been touring since 2003 and are now playing songs from their first album in more than thirty years, The Weirdness.

For eight hours over two days, at the small house in north Miami where he and the Ashetons wrote The Weirdness,Iggy spoke about his entire life: his Michigan origins; the wild birth and crash of the Stooges; David Bowie's role in resurrecting the band and the records he and Iggy made in Berlin in the mid-Seventies; and, of course, he cracks, "the list of thirty-two important transgressions — my stations of the cross."

But, he insists, before going deep into the mess, marvel and legacy of rock's first and still greatest punk band, "I don't think there was anything wired or weird about the Stooges when we started. We were just creative."

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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