See Iggy Pop Transform Into Stooges Leader in Rare Photos - Rolling Stone
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See Iggy Pop Transform From High School Debate King Into Stooges Wildman

Singer looks back on early years in new book ‘Total Chaos: The Story of the Stooges’

Iggy Pop, Excerpt

Iggy Pop recalls how the Stooges came together in a gallery taken from the new book 'Total Chaos: The Story of the Stooges.'

(c) Steve Bober

When the Stooges burst into the world consciousness in the late Sixties with their snarling riffs and peanut-butter–smearing antics, they seemed to have come out of nowhere. The truth was, though, frontman Iggy Pop and his bandmates had relatively normal(-ish) upbringings around Ann Arbor, Michigan.

A new book, Total Chaos: The Story of the Stooges, tells the band's revolutionary story through many never-before-published photos and extensive interviews that author Jeff Gold conducted with Pop. It also contains contributions from Johnny Marr, Josh Homme, Dave Grohl, Joan Jett and Jack White, among others.

The tome is set to come out on November 15th via White's Third Man Books. In anticipation of its release, the publisher has shared many rare photos with Rolling Stone, which are presented below with Pop's commentary from the book.

Iggy Pop, Excerpt

(c) Steve Bober

Stooges, Circa 1968

The Stooges played the Ann Arbor Armory in April 1968 – a gig where Iggy wore "whiteface." "This looks like one of our very first shows in which I started fronting, and I've given Ron the guitar," Pop said, looking at the photo. "[I'm] barefoot. I had a perm gone wrong. I had long hair and I thought it would look more wild permed, but I didn't know that would shorten it. I had no eyebrows, which was a physical problem. And we had a little 20-minute set worked out."

Iggy Pop, Excerpt, Stooges

Robert Matheu Collection

Children of the Corn

"I don't know what you think, but that [picture] looks to me like Nirvana except it's 1968," Pop said of a shot of the Stooges in the cornfield behind their house. "It's the whole ethic, and not just the clothes but the whole attitude you know? And then the music, the Asheton brothers, those two wonderful people lived their whole lives in a trance. It's true, and they were trance musicians, and some of the trance music they made they came up with themselves, and after I capeeshed to it, some of it, I was able to write for them. And none of it would ever sound interesting at all unless they played it, you know. I have trance tendencies – a lot of musicians do – but those two, they really had it you know, you get those Asheton guys locking in a certain way and it will put you into a kind of trance."

Iggy Pop, Excerpt

(c) Leni Sinclair

Iggy Pop, September 1968

In the fall of 1968, around the time the picture here of Iggy Pop in a football jersey was taken, Elektra signed the Stooges. "I was running things, but in a deferential way," the singer said of his role in the group. "It would be like, 'We can't play until we're full and stoned.' I'd be the guy who actually scored the marijuana and went and picked up the food usually. But not totally. Ron was somewhat responsible. It went me, Ron, Scott, and Dave in the order of responsibility, I would say."

Iggy Pop, Excerpt, Stooges MC5 John Coltrane Tribute

Jeff Gold collection

The Day the Stooges’ Lives Changed

Elektra publicity director Danny Fields flew to Ann Arbor to see the MC5 and Stooges at a John Coltrane memorial gig. "I don't know if I was still wearing the white face and the dress at the time," Pop said of the show where the Stooges got noticed, at the Union Ballroom. "I might have been just a little more raucous, but I definitely was working the crowd. You're talking about a beautiful old ballroom, lovely old wooden ballroom of moderate size, a few hundred kids sitting cross-legged enjoying, I hope, a concert by a band on a stage about ye high – about 24 inches, 30 inches high – and playing so loud in this oaken room that's made to amplify the sound of a solo violin because it's Belle Époque mentality. … I remember it as, 'You're a star and I work for Elektra Records.' I'm like, 'Yeah right, he looks like a hustler to me.' But I guess he really did, and Ron tells that he said, 'You guys are stars.'"

Iggy Pop, Excerpt

Jeff Gold and Johan Kugelberg Collections

Callin’ From the Fun House

At the end of 1968, the Stooges moved into a new home known alternately as "Stooge Manor" or the "Fun House." Pictured, is Pop's bedroom. "Between The Stooges and Fun House, I did get married briefly, and a girl came up there, very nice girl from a good family, and tried to clean it up," Pop said. "She tried to clean it up and put furniture in there, and she even brought a car with her. It was a hell of a dowry. I had a Firebird convertible, baby, but I just hated it. I couldn't take it because to me the idea was, for the person I was gonna be, I saw the order of life as a threat to the order of my music. That's what I thought 'cause I'm a fucking lunatic maybe or something, but that was what I thought."

Iggy Pop, Excerpt

(c) Leni Sinclair

The Stooges Sign Their Contract

On October 8th, 1968, the Stooges and the MC5 signed to Elektra. Pictured here are both bands and their respective crews on that momentous occasion. Pop, standing seventh from left in jeans, recalled feeling a sudden need to write new material. "The guy who really stepped up at that point was Ron Asheton, who came up with two riffs that you could start staking a career on," the singer said. "I knew that at the time when I heard 'Dog' and 'Fun,' and I think what he did was he mixed a little Velvets, a little Ravi Shankar, a little Who, and just a dab of Hendrix to get those. I know which Hendrix song he was fooling around with before he hit the riff on 'Dog,' … 'Highway Chile.' It's the same chords. But then he started playing it like the Who, but with the opens, he had like a Velvets or a raga record. I had been playing him a lot of raga. We both loved the Velvets, and he let the amp talk."

Iggy Pop, Excerpt, Stooges, Contract

Jeff Gold collection

Stooges’ Contract

The first and last pages of the Stooges' recording contract show that the group received a $5,000 advance. The MC5, who had put out singles, got $15,000. Before they officially signed as the Stooges (shortening it from the Psychedelic Stooges "to clean things up," according to Pop), Ron Asheton called the Three Stooges' Moe Howard to get permission to use the name. "In fact, Ron for quite a while visited [Stooge] Larry Fine, and he would bring Larry cigars and whiskey and stuff like that," Pop said. "[Moe] said, 'Yeah, [use the name] as long as you don't have a comedy group or something.'"

Iggy Pop, Excerpt

Jeff Gold Collection

Iggy Pop, Teen Idol

Elektra sent this glamour shot of Pop to 16 magazine. "I first had these silver gloves when I lived in the Midwest, before I started hanging out with glitter people and compete more in New York, and then internationally," Pop said of his glam transformation. "More glamour became necessary."

Iggy Pop, Excerpt

(c) Lisa Gottlieb

Glitter-Bombing the Electric Circus

The Stooges played the New York City venue the Electric Circus on October 23rd, 1970. "At the time it's not only glitter but the hair is done over with something called Nestle Streaks 'n Tips, which was a spray instant hair color that came in an aerosol can and you used to be able to buy it at Walgreens," Pop recalled. "And it was used, I'd assume, mostly by prostitutes. I would use the silver. You spray it on, it instantly gives you more body than you had, and you're bright silver. But it drips on your neck, if you touch it, it's on your hands, and it takes days to come off so wherever I slept after for days would be covered in it. 

"I started using it at that time because I was using too much dope, I was not eating right, I'd switched from eating macrobiotic with lots of reefer to everyday try to get some heroin and straight to the Dairy Queen to get a sugar rush," he continued. "Ice cream, ice cream. So I looked a bit off for what I wanted to do, so I'd take a small bottle of Johnson's baby oil, put it all over my body and my face then a small bottle of glitter. Pour that over that and then the Nestles. And that was a look! … From a distance, it looked pretty cool and it's cheap."

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