30 Fascinating Early Bands of Future Music Legends

From Billy Joel's heavy-metal duo to Madonna's post-punk act and Neil Young's Motown outfit, these are the primordial groups that rock forgot

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Iggy Pop's High-School Garage Band the Iguanas

Long before he was known as Iggy Pop, Jim Osterberg took his first musical steps as a teenager, taking up the drums after his friend Jim McLaughlin got a guitar. Together the two jammed informally on 12-bar blues and R&B hits of the day. "We practiced playing 'What'd I Say' by Ray Charles and something called 'Let There Be Drums' by Sandy Nelson, which was my idea because it was a drum solo," Pop told Rolling Stone in 2016. In March 1962 they entered a talent show at the Tappan Middle School in Ann Arbor, Michigan, performing as a proto–White Stripes drum-and-guitar duo that Pop dubbed "the Megaton Two." Their two-song set – "Let There Be Drums" and a self-penned Duane Eddy–Chuck Berry amalgam – brought the young audience out of the seats and dancing in the aisles. This earned them the contempt of the teachers, but utmost admiration from the student body. "Immediately, y'know, I took a level up socially in my encounters in the hallways," Pop later explained with a laugh. "The chicks were a little nicer and the guys were – 'Hey, that was pretty cool, Osterberg.'"

After entering high school the following year, the pair augmented the group with sax player Sam Swisher, guitarist Nick Kolokithas, and bassist Don Swickerath. No longer a duo, the expanded band called themselves the Iguanas, named by Pop after "the coolest animal." Landing gigs at school dances, frat parties and clubs around Ann Arbor, they climbed the ladder of local fame with a steady diet of British Invasion stompers. In 1965 they made the trip to Detroit's United Sound Record Studio to record their only single, a cover of Bo Diddley's "Mona." The band clashed over the B side, opting for Kolokithas' "I Don't Know Why" over "Again and Again," one first songs Pop ever wrote. A thousand copies were printed up on the band's own label, Forte Records, and sold on the door at their gigs.

That summer the Iguanas were hired as the house band at Club Ponytail, a venue in the nearby resort of Harbor Springs, earning the princely sum of $55 each to open for headliners like the Four Tops, the Shangri-Las and the Kingsmen. However, according to Pop, their tenure came to an ignoble (and premature) end: "[I] started getting wild, grew my hair to my shoulders and dyed it platinum, got arrested and took my first mug shot. Got fired from the Ponytail." He left the band the following year – joining the Prime Movers before eventually settling in the Stooges – but the Iguanas provided crucial part of Pop's legacy: the nickname Iggy.  

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