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The Stooges

During the psychedelic haze of the late '60s, the grimy, noisy, and relentlessly bleak rock & roll of the Stooges was conspicuously out of time.Like the Velvet Underground, the Stooges revealed the underside of sex, drugs, and rock & roll, showing all of the grime beneath the myth. TheStooges, however, weren't nearly as cerebral as the Velvets. Taking their cue from the over-amplified pounding of British blues, the primalraunch of American garage rock, and the psychedelic rock (as well as the audience-baiting) of the Doors, the Stooges were raw, immediate, andvulgar. Iggy Pop became notori ...read more

During the psychedelic haze of the late '60s, the grimy, noisy, and relentlessly bleak rock & roll of the Stooges was conspicuously out of time.Like the Velvet Underground, the Stooges revealed the underside of sex, drugs, and rock & roll, showing all of the grime beneath the myth. TheStooges, however, weren't nearly as cerebral as the Velvets. Taking their cue from the over-amplified pounding of British blues, the primalraunch of American garage rock, and the psychedelic rock (as well as the audience-baiting) of the Doors, the Stooges were raw, immediate, andvulgar. Iggy Pop became notorious for performing smeared in blood or peanut butter and diving into the audience. Ron and Scott Asheton formeda ridiculously primitive rhythm section, pounding out chords with no finesse -- in essence, the Stooges were the first rock & roll band completelystripped of the swinging beat that epitomized R&B and early rock & roll. During the late '60s and early '70s, the group was an undergroundsensation, yet the band was too weird, too dangerous to break into the mainstream. Following three albums, the Stooges disbanded, but thegroup's legacy grew over the next two decades, as legions of underground bands used their sludgy grind as a foundation for a variety of indierock styles, and as Iggy Pop became a pop culture icon.

After playing in several local bands in Ann Arbor, Michigan, including the blues band the Prime Movers and the Iguanas, Iggy Pop (born JamesOsterberg) formed the Stooges in 1967 after witnessing a Doors concert on the University of Michigan campus. Adopting the name Iggy Stooge,he rounded up brothers Ron and Scott Asheton (guitar and drums, respectively) and bassist Dave Alexander, and the group debuted at a houseparty in 1967. For the next year, the group played the Midwest relentlessly, earning a reputation for wild, primitive performances, which werelargely reviled. In particular, Iggy gained attention for his bizarre on-stage behavior. Performing shirtless, he would smear steaks and peanutbutter on his body, cut himself with glass, and dive into the audience. The Stooges were infamous, not famous -- while they had a rabidlydevoted core audience, even more people detested their shock tactics. Nevertheless, the group lucked into a major-label record contract in 1968when an Elektra talent scout went to Detroit to see the MC5 and wound up signing their opening act, the Stooges, as well.

Produced by John Cale, the Stooges' primitive eponymous debut was released in 1969, and while it generated some attention in the undergroundpress, it barely sold any copies. During the recording of the Stooges' second album, members of the band were introduced to heroin, whichquickly took a heavy toll on the group. As the Stooges prepared to release their sophomore album, every member sank deeper into substanceabuse (except for Ron Asheton, who became increasingly frustrated with his bandmates as instruments and gear were pawned to pay for drugs),and their excess eventually surfaced in their concerts, not only through Iggy's antics, but also in the fact that the band could barely keep asimple, two-chord riff afloat. Fun House, an atonal barrage of avant noise, appeared in 1970 and, if it was even noticed, it earned generallynegative reviews and sold even fewer copies than the debut, though it was belatedly hailed as a masterpiece. Following the commercial failure ofFun House, the Stooges essentially disintegrated, as Iggy sank deep into heroin addiction. At first, he did try to keep the Stooges afloat. DaveAlexander was fired after a lackluster performance at the 1970 Goose Lake Rock Festival, and Zeke Zettner took his place. In 1971, a new lineupof the Stooges emerged, with Ron Asheton and Bill Cheatham sharing duties on guitar, Zettner on bass, Scott Asheton on drums, and Iggy onvocals. Several months later, Cheatham and Zettner quit the band, and James Williamson became the new Stooges guitarist, while Jimmy Reccajoined as bassist. While live recordings exist of the Asheton/Williamson lineup, they never went into the studio, and for a spell the Stooges wentdormant.

Early in 1972, Pop happened to run into David Bowie, then at the height of his Ziggy Stardust popularity and an avowed Stooges fan. Bowie madeit his mission to resuscitate Iggy & the Stooges, as the band was then billed. Iggy and Williamson were signed to a management deal withMainMan, the firm guiding Bowie's career, and the new edition of the band scored a deal with Columbia Records. Temporarily based in London andunable to find a suitable rhythm section in the U.K., Iggy and Williamson invited the Asheton brothers to join the new group, with Scott on drumsand Ron moved to bass. Iggy produced the third Stooges album, Raw Power, and Bowie handled the mix. Released in 1973 to surprisingly strongreviews, Raw Power had a weird, thin sound due to various technical problems. Although this would be the cause of much controversy later on --many Stooges purists blamed Bowie for the brittle mix -- its razor-thin audio and fierce attack helped kick-start the punk revolution. At the time,however, Raw Power flopped, essentially bringing the Stooges' career to a halt, with the band's disastrous final gig in Detroit in February 1974captured on the live album Metallic K.O.

In 1976, Bowie once again came to Iggy's rescue, helping him establish himself as a solo act by producing the albums The Idiot and Lust for Life,and playing keyboards in Iggy's road band. In time, Iggy established an international following as one of rock's great renegades, but the otherStooges didn't fare quite as well. Dave Alexander died of pneumonia in 1975, aggravated by an inflamed pancreas. James Williamson returned toIggy's circle as a songwriter and producer on the albums New Values (1979) and Soldier (1980), but in the '80s he dropped out of music andbegan a successful career in electronics. Ron Asheton launched a band called the New Order (no relation to the successful British group), but itdidn't fare well and soon split up. In 1981, Ron Asheton was recruited to join New Race, a short-lived side project formed by Radio Birdmanguitarist Deniz Tek that also featured MC5 drummer Dennis Thompson and Radio Birdman alumni Rob Younger and Warwick Gilbert. However, thegroup (as intended) split after a single Australian tour and album. After returning to Michigan, Ron gigged periodically with Destroy All Monstersand Dark Carnival, acted in a handful of low-budget films, and in 1998 he recorded with the ad hoc band Wylde Ratttz, featuring Thurston Mooreand Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth, Mark Arm from Mudhoney, and Mike Watt, ex-Minutemen and fIREHOSE. Wylde Ratttz's cover of "TV Eye"appeared on the soundtrack of the film Velvet Goldmine, but the group's album remained unreleased. Following the Stooges breakup, ScottAsheton played with a few local groups in Detroit before joining Sonic's Rendezvous Band in 1974, with Fred "Sonic" Smith of the MC5, ScottMorgan of the Rationals, and Gary Rasmussen of the Up; the band earned a potent reputation as a live act, but record labels were wary and thegroup slowly faded out by the end of the decade.

In 2002, Ron Asheton and Scott Asheton joined J Mascis + the Fog for a tour in which they performed a handful of Stooges classics from thegroup's first two albums. The shows were enthusiastically received, especially in Europe, and word got back to Iggy Pop, who had been talkingwith Ron Asheton on and off for several years about a possible Stooges reunion. In 2003, Iggy was recording the album Skull Ring, whichfeatured contributions from a number of noteworthy bands, and he decided to add the Stooges to the roster; the Asheton brothers backed Iggyon four cuts (with Ron handling both guitar and bass), and on April 27, 2003, the Stooges played their first concert in 30 years at California'sCoachella festival, with Mike Watt sitting in for the late Dave Alexander. The reunited Stooges began hitting the road on a semi. regular basis forthe next three years, playing major festivals in Europe and the United States, and in the fall of 2006 the group entered Electrical Audio Studio inChicago, Illinois with engineer Steve Albini to record The Weirdness, an album culled from 22 new songs written by Pop and the Ashetons. TheWeirdness was released in March 2007, followed by a major world tour.

The Weirdness was greeted with mixed reviews but the accompanying tour was warmly received. Sadly, Ron Asheton was found dead in his AnnArbor home on January 6, 2009. By May of that year, Iggy began talking about continuing the Stooges with Raw Power-era guitarist JamesWilliamson replacing Ron. In November of 2009, this newly revamped Stooges debuted, and they kept going strong into the new millennium,beginning with their 2010 induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, running through a deluxe 2010 reissue of Raw Power, and continuing into2013, when the Williamson-fueled Stooges released a new album called Ready to Die in April. Scott Asheton played on Ready to Die, but he soondropped out of the Stooges' touring lineup due to health problems, with Toby Dammit (aka Larry Mullins) taking over on drums. Sadly, Ready toDie would be Scott Asheton's last hurrah; he died on March 15, 2014. « hide

Similar Bands: Iggy Pop, MC5, Sonic's Rendezvous Band, Question Mark and the Mysterians, The Velvet Underground

LPs
Ready to Die
04/29/2013

2.9
111 Votes
The Weirdness
2007

2
182 Votes
Raw Power
1973

4.4
875 Votes
Fun House
1970

4.5
881 Votes
The Stooges
1969

4.1
670 Votes
Live Albums
Raw Power Live: In the Hands of the Fans
2011

4
5 Votes
Have Some Fun: Live at Unganos
2010

4.3
8 Votes
Telluric Chaos
2005

3.8
6 Votes
Live in Detroit
2004

3.7
3 Votes
Open Up and Bleed
1996

4.2
3 Votes
Metallic K.O.
1976

3.7
33 Votes
Compilations
Heavy Liquid (Box Set)
2005

4.1
12 Votes
1970: The Complete Fun House Sessions
1999

3.9
8 Votes
Rough Power
1995

3.8
10 Votes

Contributors: Frippertronics, discovolante, DikkoZinner, Days of Future Passed, porch, rockandmetaljunkie, Matski, bAdMaRk, DesolationRow, skatersonic2002, Hep Kat, Alex101, tom79, Med57, Hey Mr. Light Man, BMDrummer, rockandmetaljunkie, KILL, Dave de Sylvia,

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