Iggy and the Stooges were one of the first punk bands in America, entering the popular music scene in 1967. They contributed greatly to the growing success of the genre, and their big personalities and fast-paced melodies are considered to have had an impact on the growth of heavy metal and alternative rock as well. Like many rock bands of the 1960s and 1970s, they incorporated many tenets of blues music into their rock and roll, but they kept the rock aspect very much alive with their high energy and overall lack of restraint.
The Stooges can attribute a great deal of their success to the philosophy of front man Iggy Pop. Iggy had grown up watching blues musicians in Chicago playing the stage with every ounce of energy they had, and he wanted to bring that same sense of ambition, work ethic, and general love for the art form to rock music. He was a smart young man when he first got his start, having been raised by highly intellectual parents. His anti-establishment style of music was not born out of ignorance, but rather because he had evaluated the music scene and assessed the changes he felt it needed.
Iggy Pop was a fan of showmanship, often taking to the stage with no shirt and painting his body in metallic colors. The music itself was as flashy as Iggy’s sense of style. Brothers Scott and Ron Asheton played drums and lead guitar, respectively. While Scott’s drumming was electric, his rhythms were not overly complex or difficult to follow. He managed to create a bit sound for the band while still giving them a steady enough beat to follow. Ron, on the other hand, played huge chord progressions and was a big fan of volume.
The Stooges did not have one of the most stable lineups in rock history, but they were generally able to keep bona fide talent on the stage at all times. Ron Asheton was switched to bass after nearly being cut in the early 1970s when David Bowie put James Williamson in charge of lead guitar. Their altered lineup resulted in Raw Power, one of the most controversial albums in the band’s history. While some criticized the manner in which the album was mixed by David Bowie (who had become friends with Iggy Pop two years prior to the album’s release), the album was still one of the most prominent influences on punk music of the early 1970s.
Iggy and the Stooges dropped off for a while at the end of the 1970s, but they have resurfaced now and then in different incarnations. In 2000, for instance, Ron Asheton teamed up with Mike Watt (bassist for the Minutemen) and a few other musicians to cover some of the most classic Stooges numbers. Scott Asheton and Iggy Pop joined the two in 2003 to reform the band, playing their first gig together at Coachella. They showed that they had not lost any of their legendary personality from the early years, even when playing opposite more modern legends such as Sonic Youth, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Queens of the Stone Age.
The Asheton brothers both passed away in time, leading to the reinstatement of James Williamson, but Iggy Pop and Mike Watt are still big names in the band’s current lineup. It appears that, as long as Iggy has breath left within him, the Stooges will continue to play in one incarnation or another for quite some time.
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