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Sound Bites: Iggy Pop Explains How A "Primal Groove" Was The Genesis Of His Raw Power Onstage
Iggy Pop

Photo: Leee Black Childers/Redferns via Getty Images

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Sound Bites: Iggy Pop Explains How A "Primal Groove" Was The Genesis Of His Raw Power Onstage

Iggy Pop's primitive, exhilarating onstage presence inspired a generation of artists, from the Sex Pistols to Nirvana. In this deep-from-the-vault interview footage, Pop charts the birth of his live performance style.

GRAMMYs/Sep 14, 2022 - 07:33 pm

Iggy Pop has earned his honorific as the "Godfather of Punk" for so many reasons.

Songs like "I Wanna Be Your Dog," "Lust For Life," "The Passenger" and "China Girl" have long been considered formative pieces of the canon — despite missing widespread commercial success upon release. Collectively, they helped earn the Stooges legend major accolades like an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010, and veneration from the Recording Academy as a GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award honoree in 2020.

Just as memorable as his timeless, anarchic catalog is Pop's unforgettable onstage presence. His electric, aggressive performance style influenced a generation of alternative, rock and punk performers, from the Sex Pistols to Nirvana. As his career progressed, he would move towards a more considered, experimental performance style; at the beginning, however, his strategy onstage was raw, rough and largely improvised. And, naturally, crowds ate it up.

In from-the-vault archival GRAMMY footage, Pop traces the origins of that style, detailing how he had a "secret hand signal" that he and his band used onstage as a marker for when they were transitioning from a particular riff.

"At the hand signal, they would fade off that riff — but [not] stop playing — and go to the next riff," Pop recounts. "The reason not to stop playing was not to give the audience a chance to disapprove. But the unexpected side effect was it kinda helped mesmerize them."

"Again, something about those two boys — the brothers had a very primal groove," Pop adds, referring to the Stooges' lead guitarist Ron Asheton and drummer Scott Asheton. "And there were certain things that I was doing to enhance that." 

With the crowd-captivating groove going on in the background, Pop would improvise rhymes with preconceived titles: "I'm Sick," "Asthma Attack," "Goodbye Bozos," and more. Freestyling allowed him to lock more cleanly into his fast-developing primal rock style, but it had another benefit, too: Pop says he wasn't ready to release an official song quite yet.

"I wasn't ready to write a good, memorable song yet," he reasons. "But I didn't want to write a bad one."

Press play on the video above to delve into Pop's legendary performance style, and keep checking GRAMMY.com throughout the month for more episodes of Sound Bites.

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Iggy Pop Announces New Album, 'Free', Shares Title Track

Iggy Pop

Photo: Harmony Korine

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Iggy Pop Announces New Album, 'Free', Shares Title Track

"By the end of the tours following Post Pop Depression, I felt sure that I had rid myself of the problem of chronic insecurity that had dogged my life and career for too long. But I also felt drained… I wanted to be free," the Godfather of Punk explained

GRAMMYs/Jul 18, 2019 - 11:47 pm

Today, GRAMMY-nominated punk forbearer Iggy Pop revealed the details for his forthcoming 18th solo studio album, along with its short—at under two minutes—yet spacious title track, "Free." The 10-track LP is due out Sept. 6 and follow's 2016's GRAMMY-nominated Post Pop Depression.

"This is an album in which other artists speak for me, but I lend my voice," Pop explains in a press release.

The statement notes jazz trumpeter Leron Thomas and L.A.-based electric guitarist Noveller as the "principal players" collaborating with Pop on this exploratory new project. On "Free," Thomas' horn and Noveller's guitar add layers of depth, somberness and exploration, as Pop's echoing voice cuts through twice to proclaim, "I want to be free."

Pop adds that his last tour left him feeling exhausted but ready for change, and the shifts eventually led him to these new sounds:

"By the end of the tours following Post Pop Depression, I felt sure that I had rid myself of the problem of chronic insecurity that had dogged my life and career for too long. But I also felt drained. And I felt like I wanted to put on shades, turn my back, and walk away. I wanted to be free. I know that's an illusion, and that freedom is only something you feel, but I have lived my life thus far in the belief that that feeling is all that is worth pursuing; all that you need—not happiness or love necessarily, but the feeling of being free. So this album just kind of happened to me, and I let it happen."

Post Pop Depression earned the former Stooges frontman his second GRAMMY nod, at the 59th GRAMMY Awards for Best Alternative Music Album. It was produced by GRAMMY winner Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age and as a tribute of sorts to David Bowie, Pop's longtime friend the producer of his first two solo albums, and was released shortly after Bowie's surprising passing.

As the press release states, "While it follows the highest charting album of Iggy's career, Free has virtually nothing in common sonically with its predecessor—or with any other Iggy Pop album."

You can pre-order and pre-save the new album now for the Sept. 6 release here. You can also check out Pop's new book, 'Til Wrong Feels Right, on Sept. 26.

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Set List Bonus: Iggy And The Stooges At Ink-N-Iron Festival

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 04:22 am

Welcome to The Set List. Here you'll find the latest concert recaps for many of your favorite, or maybe not so favorite, artists. Our bloggers will do their best to provide you with every detail of the show, from which songs were on the set list to what the artist was wearing to which out-of-control fan made a scene. Hey, it'll be like you were there. And if you like what you read, we'll even let you know where you can catch the artist on tour. Feel free to drop us a comment and let us know your concert experience. Oh, and rock on.

By Jamie Harvey
Long Beach, Calif.

As I boarded the Queen Mary in Long Beach, Calif., on June 8, I had flashbacks to last December's Barge To Hell cruise. But as I entered, surrounded by perfectly coiffed women and men with slicked-back hair, I became immersed in the unique culture of the Ink-N-Iron Festival. There were aisles of shiny, colorful hot rods, and rooms abuzz with the sound of tattoo guns and partially unclothed, grimacing people in the process of having statements permanently etched in their skin. There were rooms aboard the ship decked out with bodacious art, vintage frocks and burlesque entertainers. But it was the stage in front of the Queen Mary that I was there for.

After watching the Dead Kennedys (minus original lead singer Jello Biafra) and a recently reunited Rocket From The Crypt, I stood beneath the stage bracing myself for Iggy And The Stooges. The only other time I had seen them perform was right before guitarist Ron Asheton died in 2009, and after a couple of failed attempts to see Iggy Pop since, I had been waiting for this show for months. Earlier in the day, I told a friend that I had one goal for the night: To dance onstage with Iggy. Though Iggy usually asks people to come onstage at one point during his sets, as we stood underneath the high stage I began to wonder if my goal was even feasible. 

As someone who attends two to three concerts a week, it takes a lot to make me scream upon the commencement of a set. But as soon as Iggy bounded onstage to join the Stooges, I couldn't contain myself. Launching into "Raw Power," the godfather of punk proved that, at 66 years old, he's showing no signs of slowing down. With his bleach-blonde hair and wild eyes, he was wearing only black jeans fitted with a slightly jeweled belt that displayed his name, with his characteristic bare torso. Singing, "Gimme danger, little stranger" — one of my favorite lyrics — he stood above me as I sang along with him, and his body moved in double-time to the music.

As the band launched into "1970," I thought about how I would have given anything to have been alive in that era, experiencing the boundary breakthroughs that the Stooges achieved. But as Iggy broke out in spastic movements, jumped into the crowd, writhed onstage, and unbuckled his belt, I caught a glimpse of what it was like. After the highly recognizable "Search And Destroy," Iggy asked for people to join him onstage. My friend and I looked at each other, and next thing I knew, we were climbing the scaffolding. As the band performed "Fun House," my eyes caught a view of the thousands of fans in the crowd and I started jumping up and down, dancing like a wild person. I looked to my left and there was Iggy Pop ... dancing with me! It's a moment I will never forget. Pretty soon the stage was almost full of enthusiastic fans.

After the song, we climbed down and watched the rest of the set from the photo pit.  Having live horns for the songs really made them pop, giving this legendary punk band an element of sophistication. The beginning of "I Wanna Be Your Dog" prickled my skin. I love that song so much, and even though I've seen it covered many times, hearing it from its originator was an experience I won't forget. After that, it was almost like I couldn't take anymore, but "Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell" was pure perfection. The crowd howled for more, but the clock was ticking. 

"Thanks for checking us out!" Iggy kept saying to us, not wanting to leave the stage.  And they left in a fit of fury, a guitar flying in the air and crashing into the bass. 

Set List:

"Raw Power"
"Gimme Danger"
"Gun"
"1970"
"Search And Destroy"
"Fun House"
"L.A. Blues"
"Night Theme"
"Skull Ring"
"Beyond The Law"
"Johanna"
"Ready To Die"
"I Got A Right"
"I Wanna Be Your Dog"
"No Fun"
"Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell"
"Open Up And Bleed"
"Penetration"
"Sex And Money"

(Jamie Harvey lives in Los Angeles and is the rock community blogger for GRAMMY.com. She has attended and written about more than 500 shows since 2007. You can follow her musical adventures at www.hardrockchick.com.)

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Beyoncé leads 59th GRAMMY nominations with nine

20-time GRAMMY winner scores nine nominations; Drake, Rihanna, Kanye West each receive eight; other top nominees include Adele, Justin Bieber, David Bowie, Chance The Rapper, Kirk Franklin, Max Martin, and Maren Morris

GRAMMYs/May 15, 2017 - 01:36 pm

Reflecting the range of artistic innovation that defined the year in music, The Recording Academy welcomes the class of nominees for the 59th Annual GRAMMY Awards. The top nominees are Beyoncé with nine, followed by Drake, Rihanna and Kanye West, who each garnered eight, and Chance The Rapper with seven.

View a complete list of 59th GRAMMY nominees

The dynamic range of this year's nominees is exhibited across several Fields, including American Roots Music, R&B, Dance/Electronic Music, and Rock, but it's arguably best showcased in the Album Of The Year category, which represents a mix of genres — pop, R&B, rap, and country. These recordings exhibit an even greater degree of musical advancement and sonic experimentation: the emotion-stirring vocals of Adele, who brings a soulful depth to a collection of classically fine-tuned pop ballads; Beyoncé's ability to paint a picture, layering poignant R&B vocals over a tapestry of sounds that range from blues-rock to hip-hop; Justin Bieber's growth as a songwriter and evolution as a pop powerhouse; Drake's continued genre-bending, which now invites island influences to his signature sound; and the definition-defying Sturgill Simpson who made many of us re-explore the vast territories of country music.

"Just as we see emerging musicians experimenting, we're also seeing established artists resisting what's expected of them and, instead, embracing the creative freedom they've been afforded through their success, blurring the lines between music's mainstream and artistic edge," said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy.

Following are the nominations in the General Field categories:

Record Of The Year
"Hello" — Adele
"Formation" — Beyoncé
"7 Years" — Lukas Graham
"Work" — Rihanna Featuring Drake
"Stressed Out" — Twenty One Pilots

Album Of The Year
25 — Adele
Lemonade — Beyoncé
Purpose — Justin Bieber
Views — Drake
A Sailor's Guide To Earth — Sturgill Simpson

Song Of The Year
"Formation" — Khalif Brown, Asheton Hogan, Beyoncé Knowles & Michael L. Williams II, songwriters (Beyoncé)
"Hello" — Adele Adkins & Greg Kurstin, songwriters (Adele)
"I Took A Pill In Ibiza" — Mike Posner, songwriter (Mike Posner)
"Love Yourself" — Justin Bieber, Benjamin Levin & Ed Sheeran, songwriters (Justin Bieber)
"7 Years" — Lukas Forchhammer, Stefan Forrest, Morten Pilegaard & Morten Ristorp, songwriters (Lukas Graham)

Best New Artist
Kelsea Ballerini
The Chainsmokers
Chance The Rapper
Maren Morris
Anderson .Paak

Following is a sampling of nominations in the GRAMMY Awards' other 29 Fields:

For Best Pop Vocal Album, the nominees are 25 by Adele; Purpose by Justin Bieber; Dangerous Woman by Ariana Grande; Confident by Demi Lovato; and This Is Acting by Sia.

The nominees for Best Dance/Electronic Album are Skin by Flume; Electronica 1: The Time Machine by Jean-Michel Jarre; Epoch by Tycho; Barbara Barbara, We Face A Shining Future by Underworld; and Louie Vega Starring…XXVIII by Louie Vega.

For Best Rock Album, the nominees are California by Blink-182; Tell Me I'm Pretty by Cage The Elephant; Magma by Gojira; Death Of A Bachelor by Panic! At The Disco; and Weezer by Weezer.

The Best Alternative Music Album nominees are 22, A Million by Bon Iver; Blackstar by David Bowie; The Hope Six Demolition Project by PJ Harvey; Post Pop Depression by Iggy Pop; and A Moon Shaped Pool by Radiohead.

For Best Urban Contemporary Album, the nominees are Lemonade by Beyoncé; Ology by Gallant; We Are King by King; Malibu by Anderson .Paak; and Anti by Rihanna.

The nominees for Best Rap Performance are "No Problem" by Chance The Rapper Featuring Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz; "Panda" by Desiigner; "Pop Style" by Drake Featuring The Throne; "All The Way Up" by Fat Joe & Remy Ma Featuring French Montana & Infared; and "That Part" by ScHoolboy Q Featuring Kanye West.

The Best Country Solo Performance nominees are "Love Can Go To Hell" by Brandy Clark; "Vice" by Miranda Lambert; "My Church" by Maren Morris; "Church Bells" by Carrie Underwood; and "Blue Ain't Your Color" by Keith Urban.

The nominees for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album are Poets & Saints by All Sons & Daughters; American Prodigal by Crowder; Be One by Natalie Grant; Youth Revival [Live] by Hillsong Young & Free; and Love Remains by Hillary Scott & The Scott Family.  

For Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical, the nominees are Benny Blanco, Greg Kurstin, Max Martin, Nineteen85, and Ricky Reed.

The nominees for Best Music Video are "Formation" by Beyoncé; "River" by Leon Bridges; "Up & Up" by Coldplay; "Gosh" by Jamie XX; and "Upside Down & Inside Out" by OK Go.

This year's GRAMMY Awards process registered more than 22,000 submissions across 84 categories. As the only peer-selected music award, the GRAMMY is voted on by The Recording Academy's Voting membership, who represent all genres and creative disciplines, including recording artists, songwriters, producers, mixers, and engineers. Final-round GRAMMY ballots will be mailed Dec. 14 and are due Jan. 13, 2017, when they will be tabulated and the results kept secret until the 59th GRAMMY Awards telecast.

The Recording Academy will present the 59th GRAMMY Awards on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2017, live from Staples Center in Los Angeles and broadcast on the CBS Television Network from 8–11:30 pm ET/5–8:30 pm PT. Follow Recording Academy/GRAMMYs on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and use #GRAMMYs to join the conversation.

Iggy Pop And Josh Homme's Marilyn Manson Connection
Josh Homme and Iggy Pop at the GRAMMY Museum

Photo: Rebecca Sapp/WireImage.com

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Iggy Pop And Josh Homme's Marilyn Manson Connection

Duo discuss how Manson played a role in their meeting some 15 years before they teamed for Pop's latest studio album, Post Pop Depression

GRAMMYs/Aug 10, 2016 - 02:53 am

Punk-rock icon Iggy Pop and GRAMMY winner Josh Homme recently detailed their 2016 collaboration that resulted in the former's new studio album, Post Pop Depression, during an installment of the GRAMMY Museum's A Conversation With series. In an exclusive interview, the duo revealed the '90s shock rocker who sparked their introduction at a magazine photoshoot in 2001, among other topics.

Watch more Iggy Pop and Josh Homme video

"[I] was in England and I was asked, 'Would I be photographed for the cover of [a September 2001 issue of] Kerrang! magazine?'" said Pop. "Then they said, 'Would you form a daisy chain with Josh Homme and Marilyn Manson?'"  

"So essentially we were introduced by Marilyn Manson," added Homme.

"I was impressed with Josh," said Pop. "He didn't look like the others there. He was the only guy besides myself who wasn't dressed up in some sort of satanic space outfit."

Considered the Godfather of Punk, Michigan native Iggy Pop blasted onto the scene in the late '60s as the frontman for punk progenitors the Stooges. Though the group's original incarnation lasted seven years, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010 on the strength of their influence and snarling classics such as "I Wanna Be Your Dog" and "Search And Destroy." Pop subsequently launched a solo career with 1977's The Idiot. His highest charting hit was 1990's "Candy" (a duet with Kate Pierson of the B-52's), which reached No. 28 on the Billboard Hot 100. Pop's solo canon also includes well-known songs such as "Lust For Life" (co-written by David Bowie), "The Passenger" and "Real Wild Child (Wild One)."  

Born in Joshua Tree, Calif., multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Homme has co-founded several alt-rock bands, including Kyuss, Queens Of The Stone Age and Eagles Of Death Metal. In 2009 he joined forces with fellow GRAMMY winners Dave Grohl and John Paul Jones to form Them Crooked Vultures. The supergroup won a GRAMMY for Best Hard Rock Performance for 2010 for "New Fang." Homme has collaborated with a variety of other artists, including PJ Harvey, Trent Reznor, Melissa Auf der Maur, and Mastodon.

Released in March, Pop's Post Pop Depression was produced by Homme with contributions from bassist Dean Fertita and drummer Matt Helders. Featuring nine songs, including "Gardenia" and "American Valhalla," the album debuted at No. 17 on the Billboard 200, marking the highest-charting album of Pop's career. 

Pop and Homme mounted a brief spring tour of the United States and Europe in support of Post Pop Depression. Pop has additional international tour dates scheduled through October.