Vanity Fair

The Music Issue
November 2000



Iggy Pop

Singer, songwriter, punk pioneer, shaman. Eighteen albums; one autobiography, I Need More (1982); born James Osterberg, 1947. "I always thought I was the innocent one, the one really trying to do the music that I felt, and that other kids felt, in a real way," -- Iggy Pop on his notoriety as the consummate bad boy. Most pioneers of rock music have been inspired by some aspect of the blues, but perhaps Iggy Pop was alone in his devotion to the genre's sheer dangerousness. In 1967, while the rest of the country was tripping on psychedelic rock and jamming to Motown tunes, Iggy began inflicting malicious performances on audiences in Detroit, screeching over brash, raucous chord progressions played by his band, the Stooges--who were essentially learning to play as they went along--and, later doing irrational things like rubbing raw meat on himself and rolling around in broken glass. His personal adventurousness has translated into addictions and near-fatal situations of every kind, but somehow Pop stays alive, a changing icon to three generations of musicians and music lovers, the godfather of punk, the bard of bad behavior, and one of our most astute chroniclers of life's sordid side.

Photographed by Annie Leibovitz in Miami on July 21, 2000.

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