The Stooges

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Not to be confused with Stooges Brass Band or The Three Stooges.
For The Stooges' self-titled debut album, see The Stooges (album).
The Stooges
The Stooges performing in Austin, Texas (2007)
Background information
Also known as Iggy and the Stooges, Iggy Pop and the Stooges, The Psychedelic Stooges
Origin Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States
Years active 1967–1974, 2003–present
Associated acts
Past members

The Stooges, also known as Iggy and the Stooges, are an American proto-punk[5] 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.[6][7] The Stooges were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010.[8] In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked them 78th on their list of the 100 greatest artists of all time.


Formation (1967–1968)[edit]

Iggy Pop (born James Newell Osterberg) played drums in several Ann Arbor-area bands as a teenager, including the Iguanas and, later, the Prime Movers. The Prime Movers nicknamed Osterberg "Iggy" in reference to his earlier band.[9]

Osterberg was first inspired to form the Stooges after meeting blues drummer Sam Lay during a visit to Chicago. He returned to Detroit with the idea that simply copying established blues performers was not enough – he wanted to create a whole new form of blues music. Brothers Ron (guitar) and Scott Asheton (drums) and their friend Dave Alexander (bass guitar) rounded out the rest of the band, with Osterberg taking vocal duties. Osterberg was drawn to Ron Asheton after seeing him perform in a covers band, the Chosen Few, believing "I’ve never met a convincing musician that didn’t look kind of ill and kind of dirty, and Ron had those two things covered!"[10] The three nicknamed Osterberg "Pop" after a local character whom Osterberg resembled.[11] Shortly after witnessing an MC5 concert in Ann Arbor, Osterberg began using the stage name Iggy Pop, a name that he has used ever since.

The band's début was at a Halloween concert at their house in State Street in 1967. They did not play live again until January 1968.[12] During this early period, the Stooges were originally billed as the "Psychedelic Stooges" at the Grande Ballroom in Detroit, Michigan, and other venues, where they played with the MC5 and others. At one of their early Grande Ballroom performances, Asheton's guitar neck separated from the body and forced the band to shut down during the opening song, "I Wanna Be Your Dog".

The group's early sound was very different from their later music; critic Edwin Pouncey writes:

The Stooges' early musical experiments were more avant garde than punk rock, with Pop incorporating such household objects as a vacuum cleaner and a blender into an intense wall of feedback that one observer described as sounding like "an airplane was landing in the room." Homemade instruments were also incorporated to flesh out the overall sound. The 'Jim-a-phone' involved pushing feedback through a funnel device which was raised and lowered to achieve the best effect. There was also a cheap Hawaiian guitar which Pop and guitarist Ron Asheton would take turns in plucking to produce a simulated sitar drone, while drummer Scott Asheton pounded away at a set of oil drums with a ball hammer.[13]

Commercial struggles, first two albums and first breakup (1968–1971)[edit]

The Stooges soon gained a reputation for their wild, primitive live performances. Pop, especially, won fame for his outrageous onstage behaviour—smearing his bare chest with hamburger meat and peanut butter, cutting himself with shards of glass, and flashing his genitalia to the audience. Pop is also sometimes credited with the invention or popularization of stage diving.

In 1968, the Stooges were signed by Elektra Records, who had sent DJ/publicist Danny Fields to scout the MC5. He wound up signing both acts. The following year, the band released their self-titled debut album, but it did not sell very well, nor was it well received by critics at the time. Legend has it that half of the album, which was produced by former Velvet Underground bassist John Cale, was written the night before the first session.

A second album, Fun House, followed in 1970, which featured the addition of saxophonist Steve Mackay. Many[who?] consider Fun House to be the best representation of the Stooges, as the main goal of the album was to capture the manic energy of their live performances. On June 13 of that year, television captured footage of the band at the Cincinnati Pop Festival. While performing the songs "T.V. Eye" and "1970", Pop leapt into the crowd, where he was hoisted up on people's hands, and proceeded to smear peanut butter all over his chest. In a broadcast interview at WNUR Northwestern University radio station in Evanston, IL in 1984, Stiv Bators of the Lords of the New Church and the Dead Boys confirmed the long-standing rumor that it was he who had provided the peanut butter, having carried a large tub from his home in Youngstown, OH and handing it up to Iggy from the audience. It has since become an iconic rock image.

Fun House, like the debut album, was poorly received by both the general public and the critics. Alexander was fired from the band in August 1970 after showing up at the Goose Lake International Music Festival too drunk to play.[14] He was replaced by a succession of new bass players: Zeke Zettner[15] and James Recca. Around this time, the band expanded their line-up by adding a second guitar player, roadie Billy Cheatham,[9] who was replaced by James Williamson.

At this point, the Stooges, with the notable exception of Ron Asheton,[9][16] had all become serious heroin users. The drug was introduced to the band by new manager John Adams.[9] Their performances became even more unpredictable, and Pop often had trouble standing up on stage due to his extreme drug abuse. Elektra soon dropped the Stooges from its roster, and the band went on hiatus for several months. The final line-up was Pop, the Asheton brothers, Recca and Williamson.[9]

The break-up of the Stooges was formally announced on 9 July 1971.[17]

Raw Power and second breakup (1972–1974)[edit]

With the band in limbo, Pop met David Bowie on 7 September 1971 at the Max's Kansas City,[16][17] and the pair instantly became good friends. The following day, on the advice of Bowie then at the height of his Ziggy Stardust-era fame, Pop signed a recording contract with pop music manager Tony DeFries' company, MainMan. A few months later, Tony DeFries and Pop met Clive Davis from CBS/Columbia Records and got a two-album recording deal.[17] In March 1972, DeFries brought Pop and Williamson to the UK,[17] and the pair attempted to reconstitute the Stooges with British musicians, but finding no suitable additions, brought the Asheton brothers back into the band (this "second choice" decision rankled Ron Asheton, as did his change from guitar to bass). This line-up, billed as Iggy & the Stooges, recorded their third album, the influential Raw Power (1973). At the time, the album was criticized by diehard fans who said that Bowie had mixed it poorly. (In subsequent years, various pirate fan recordings were assembled and released as the album Rough Power. In 1997, Raw Power was re-mixed by Iggy Pop and re-released.) 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[9]), 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, James Williamson was briefly fired due to pressure from the band's management company; guitarist Tornado Turner replaced him for a single gig (on 15 June 1973 at the Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, Illinois[18]), but Williamson soon returned to the group.[12]

The Stooges disbanded in February 1974 as a result of Pop's ever-present heroin addiction and erratic behavior (at least off stage, as many people around the band acknowledged that while performing or rehearsing, Iggy had more focus).[12] The last half of the band's last performance of this era (on 9 February 1974 in Detroit, Michigan) was captured and was released later on (in 1976) as the live album Metallic K.O. (along with the first half of an earlier show on 6 October 1973 at the same venue). A 1988 expanded release of the album under the title Metallic 2X K.O. included the two halves of each show. In 1998, the album was re-released under the original title with a reverse show order, (mostly) expanded track lengths and more complete set-lists.

Post-breakup (1975–2003)[edit]

Iggy Pop on October 25, 1977; at the State Theatre, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Photo: Michael Markos

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, California, Ron Asheton formed the short-lived band the New Order (not to be confused with the UK 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 Handmade released the seven disc box set 1970: The Complete Fun House Sessions, composed of the entire recording sessions surrounding the Fun House album. 3,000 copies were pressed, selling out in less than a year.

In 2000, indie rock veterans J Mascis (of Dinosaur Jr) and Mike Watt (of the Minutemen and Firehose) teamed up with Ron Asheton and drummer George Berz to perform Stooges covers (and other material) live. Billed as J. Mascis and the Fog, the band performed sporadically before catching Pop's attention in 2003.

Reunion, The Weirdness and Ron Asheton's death (2003–2009)[edit]

Pop and the Ashetons first reunited that year, 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 Watt on bass at Ron Asheton's request,[19] 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.

On August 16, 2005, Elektra Records and Rhino Records issued newly remastered 2-CD editions of the first two Stooges albums, featuring the original album on disc one and outtakes (including alternate mixes, single versions, etc.) on disc two. Unlike the 1997 Raw Power reissue, which was a total remix from the original multitracks, these remasters are faithful to the original mixes.

Iggy and the Stooges - Sziget Fesztivál, 2006
Iggy and the Stooges - Sziget Fesztivál, 2006

In 2007, the band released an album of all-new material, The Weirdness, with Steve Albini recording, and mastering done at Abbey Road Studios in London, England.[20] The album received mixed to negative reviews from the press. The band also contributed a cover of Junior Kimbrough's "You Better Run" to a tribute album for the late blues artist.

The Stooges spent the years between 2003 and 2008 touring extensively, playing shows on five different continents. Highlights included performances at several events involved with the All Tomorrow's Parties concert series, Pop's 60th birthday on the stage of San Francisco's Warfield Theater,[21] touring with the Lollapalooza festival, and a performance of two Madonna covers at the Michigan-born singer's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in protest of the Stooges' failure to receive an induction into said institution despite six nominations. (Two years later, the band was successfully inducted.) A low of this touring era occurred in the August 2008 when the band's equipment was stolen in Montreal, Quebec.[22] Initially, the reunited band's sets consisted solely of material from The Stooges, Fun House, Skull Ring, and The Weirdness. By 2008, they had added "Search and Destroy", "I Got a Right" and "Raw Power" to their set lists. The band's final show with Ron Asheton was on September 29, 2008, in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

On January 6, 2009, Ron Asheton was found dead in his home, having reportedly suffered a heart attack several days earlier.[23][24] He was 60. In their official statement, the group called Asheton "irreplaceable".[25]

On October 1, 2009, The Stooges: The Authorized and Illustrated Story by Robert Matheu and Jeffrey Morgan (authorized biographer of Alice Cooper) was published in hardcover by Abrams.[26]

Return of James Williamson (2009–present)[edit]

Iggy Pop and the Stooges, Katowice Off Festval, Poland, on August 4, 2012

In a May 2009 interview, Pop announced the band's plans to continue performing with James Williamson returning as guitarist.[27][28] Pop stated that "although 'the Stooges' died with Ron Asheton, there is still 'Iggy and the Stooges'".[29] Their first concert occurred on November 7, 2009 in São Paulo, Brazil. The band added material from Raw Power and several of Pop's early solo albums to its repertoire.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted the band through their Class of 2010.[30] The band had previously been nominated for election seven times, each unsuccessful. Their performance for the event included a guest appearance by former keyboardist Scott Thurston. Performances with Williamson continued, including the 2010 All Tomorrow's Parties festival in Monticello, New York, where they performed Raw Power in its entirety. A re-release of Raw Power was released on April 10, 2010, including the first remastering of the David Bowie mix and a live 1973 performance. The following year, Detroit author Brett Callwood published The Stooges - Head On: A Journey Through The Michigan Underground, a book which focuses heavily on the Asheton brothers' activities after the initial decline of the Stooges.[31]

On February 25, 2013, Iggy Pop reunited with the Stooges to release Ready to Die. The album was released on April 30 on Fat Possum.[32] Iggy and the Stooges played the final date of their 25-city 2013 world tour with a performance at the C2SV Festival in San Jose on September 28, 2013.[33]

On March 15, 2014, Scott Asheton died of a heart attack, aged 64.[34][35] Saxophonist Steve Mackay died in October 2015 at age of 66.[36]


Band members[edit]





  • Live In Detroit (2003)
  • Iggy & the Stooges reunion at Coachella! (2003)
  • Escaped Maniacs (2007)


  1. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "The Stooges biography". Allmusic. Retrieved July 15, 2015. 
  2. ^ N. E. Tawa, Supremely American: Popular Song in the 20th Century: Styles and Singers and what They Said about America (Scarecrow Press, 2005), p. 179.
  3. ^ G. Thompson, American Culture in the 1980s (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007), ISBN 0-7486-1910-0, p. 134.
  4. ^ Fekadu, Meskin (March 18, 2014). "Scott Asheton, drummer for pioneering punk band the Stooges, dies at 64". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 15, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Anacronistic: The Stooges (Punk Rock)". Still in Rock (Brooklyn, NY) (in French). 1 December 2014. Retrieved 31 March 2015. 
  6. ^ "The Stooges", Rolling Stone Magazine (archived 2008)
  7. ^ Ratliff, Ben, "Ron Asheton, Guitarist in the Stooges, Dies at 60", The New York Times, January 8, 2009
  8. ^ Associated Press. "ABBA, Jimmy Cliff, Genesis, the Hollies and the Stooges are headed into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame". Retrieved 2011-07-01. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f Cliff Jones & Paul Trynka Whatever Turns You On Mojo No. 29, April 1996
  10. ^ "The Stooges: Iggy Pop Interview | Clash Music Exclusive Interview". 2010-03-30. Retrieved 2011-07-01. 
  11. ^ Paul TrynkaMeet Ze Monster Mojo No. 161, April 2007
  12. ^ a b c Trynka, Paul (2007), "Open Up and Bleed", pg. 152
  13. ^ Pouncey, Edwin (June 1995). "Motown City Burning: MC5 meets Sun Ra". The Wire (136). Retrieved February 3, 2007. 
  14. ^ Keith Cameron Return To The Fun House Mojo No. 161, April 2007
  15. ^ Jack White interview with Iggy Pop Mojo No. 199 October 2003
  16. ^ a b Paul Trynka Night Of The Iguana Mojo No. 78, May 2000
  17. ^ a b c d Nicolas Ungemuth, Iggy Pop, Librio Musique / Flammarion, September 2002
  18. ^ a b "THE STOOGES FAMILY TREE - SHOWS LIST 1967-1974". Blog "Rock Prosopography 102". 5 March 2010. Retrieved 25 April 2015. 
  19. ^ Mike Watt Interview Clark, Alistair. "Mike Watt Interview", Crasier Frane. Retrieved December 16, 2009
  20. ^ interview with Iggy Pop, accessed January 2006 Rick Rubin was initially rumored to be the helmsman for the album until Pop dropped Albini's name in this newspaper interview.
  21. ^ "The Iguana at 60". Stuck Between Stations. 2007-04-23. Retrieved 2015-10-11. 
  22. ^ Mike Watt (2008-08-04). "Stooges stuff stolen on August 4, 2008 in Montreal, Quebec". Retrieved 2013-05-04. 
  23. ^ Daniel Kreps (2009-01-06). "The Stooges Guitarist Ron Asheton Found Dead At 60 | Rolling Stone Music". Retrieved 2011-07-01. 
  24. ^ "Kerrang! RIP Ron Asheton (1948-2009)". 2009-01-06. Retrieved 2011-07-01. 
  25. ^ Jonze, Tim (January 6, 2009). "Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton dies". The Guardian (London). Retrieved May 25, 2010. 
  26. ^ Robert Matheu, Jeffrey Morgan (2008). The Stooges: The Authorized and Illustrated Story. Abrams. ISBN 978-0-8109-8289-5. 
  27. ^ "Latest News". Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  28. ^ Andy Greene (2009-09-03). "Stooges Reunite With Raw Power Guitarist, Prep ATP Gig and Tour | Rolling Stone Music". Retrieved 2011-07-01. 
  29. ^ "NPR Media Player". Retrieved 2011-07-01. 
  30. ^ "The Stooges, ABBA Inducted Into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2011-07-01. 
  31. ^ "Interview on Outsight Radio Hours". Outsight Radio Hours. 2011-11-13. Retrieved 2012-01-08. 
  32. ^ Jenn, Pelly. "Iggy and the Stooges Announce New Album Ready to Die, Diss the Smashing Pumpkins in the Process". PitchforkMedia. Retrieved 25 February 2013. 
  33. ^ "Iggy and The Stooges Guitarist to Deliver Keynote at C2SV Technology Conference". Metroactive Activate. Retrieved 7 September 2013. 
  34. ^ Greene, Andy (2014-03-16). "Iggy and the Stooges Drummer Scott Asheton Dead at 64". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2015-10-11. 
  35. ^ Greene, Andy (2014-03-19). "Page 2 of Iggy Pop Remembers Stooges Drummer Scott Asheton: 'He Played With A Boxer's Authority'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2015-10-11. 
  36. ^ Minsker, Evan (11 October 2015). "The Stooges' Steve Mackay Has Died". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 11 October 2015. 
  37. ^ "The Immortals: The First Fifty". Rolling Stone Issue 946. Rolling Stone. 

External links[edit]