Originally the Psychedelic Stooges. Known for its famous alumnus, lead singer Iggy Stooge, they were one of the best of the great late-60's Michigan bands. One of many bands that lucked into the sludgy post-flower-power zeitgeist (no peace'n'love here, just raw, mush-mouthed, confused, intense rock and roll), but unlike, say, Black Sabbath, they weren't especially successful in the marketplace. Moved to L.A., where they imploded into their various addictions; a more-sober version hooked up with David Bowie for one last gasp - the Raw Power fiasco.

Jim "Iggy" Osterberg would keep the Stooges name for a while - as "Iggy and the Stooges", after about 14 seconds spent as Jim Morrison's replacement in The Doors - before just going with his nom de rock, which, by then, was Piggy Oop. Or something. Jetty Poop?

As an additional note, the Stooges are considered by many to be one of the forefathers of punk rock before it was really defined as a seperate genre by the emergence of the Ramones.

If you enjoy the stooges, you might also check out the following bands:

  • The MC5 (similar sound, similar time, they even hung out together).
  • The Ramones (later time, more pure rock sound, considered by many to be the first true punk band, but take that as you will.
  • The Modern Lovers (later time, different place, similar themes in a lot of ways).

The Stooges made only three official releases, containing only 23 songs, over a five-year career. A fourth album's-worth of songs have come out on various bootlegs. With this very small output, the Stooges somehow became one of rock's most influential bands. Echoes of their simple yet powerful style can be heard in punk, metal (not hair metal), and grunge, and in garage bands everywhere.

Their first record, The Stooges was released in 1969 and produced by former Velvet Underground violist John Cale, who appears on one track, the 10-minute vaguely Eastern-sounding drone, "We Will Fall". The rest of the record sounds NOTHING LIKE THIS. Guitarist Ron Asheton (whose haircut gave him the high school nickname "The Fat Beatle") plays brutal and repetitive riffs, while Iggy screams the simple yet strangely meaningful lyrics at the top of his leather lungs. Classic Stooges cuts on this record include "No Fun", "1969", and "I Wanna Be Your Dog".

Their second record, "Fun House", came out a year later. The title refers to the house in which the band members were all living at the time. Nico slept there, by the way. The songs were longer, with more instrumental jamming, and a saxophone was added on some tracks.

The Stooges were dropped from Elektra Records after "Fun House", and went their separate ways. Iggy was befriended by David Bowie, who produced a third Stooges record, "Raw Power", in 1973. "Raw Power" had a different lineup. The lead guitarist was James Williamson, and Ron Asheton switched to bass. The songs on "Raw Power" are among some of the best Iggy ever wrote, including "Search and Destroy", "I Need Somebody", and "Raw Power", but the final mix was done by Bowie. Many years later a re-issued version came out, mixed by Iggy. This is far superior. The main difference seems to be that the Iggy mix turns up the guitars ALOT.

The Stooges toured after the release of "Raw Power", but internal tensions between Iggy and James Williamson, and also Iggy's drug habits, broke up the band for good soon after. Iggy checked into a Los Angeles mental hospital, and disappeared from the music scene for several years. Iggy and James Williamson made a record together in 1976 called "Kill City", which featured several previously unreleased Stooges songs.

The Stooges Discography (Major label only):
The Stooges(1969)
Fun House(1970)
Raw Power(1973)

Band members:
Iggy Pop--Vocals
Ron Asheton--Guitar and Bass
James Williamson--Guitar, 1971-73
Dave Alexander--Bass, 1969-70
Scott "Rock Action" Asheton--Drums
Steve Mackay--Saxophone on "Fun House" album
Scott Thurston--Organ, Guitar, and Harmonica (touring only)


The Stooges got back together in the spring of 2003, after a hiatus of nearly 30 years. Iggy was joined by the Asheton brothers, and punk uber-bassist Mike Watt. They toured the U.S. in the spring and summer of 2003, playing ONLY songs from their first two albums, pretending the David Bowie days never happened. Surprisingly, they still had it. Iggy seemed more energized than he had been in twenty-five years, and, while the old tricks of onstage self-mutilation had fallen by the wayside, remained a frighteningly intense performer. He even sang the old songs in a way that you could tell what the lyrics were.

The re-formed Stooges are recording a new album, slated for a 2004 release, called Skull Ring. He debuted the title track on tour, and it sounded like a much harder-rocking solo Iggy cut from 1977-78, which is by no means a bad thing.

The thing I really love about The Stooges is that their unadulterated rawness and apparent disconnection from the music industry also translated into the way their debut album was recorded in 1969.

Apparently, when the group began making their first album for Elektra, despite having existed for about two years, The Stooges had written no more than five songs. And they did not feel like writing more songs, or recording any covers. In the studio, the band simply recorded their five tracks and handed the resulting 25 minutes of material to the label executives, expecting nothing of them but to release this as an LP. The band was taken by surprise by the plain fact that Elektra asked for more material - The Stooges had only one more night of studio time booked.

So what to do?

They lied. "We have lots of songs," Iggy Pop said, and the band promised to deliver the rest of the material after the last recording session. And so they wrote and recorded three more tracks in just one night. The label accepted the fresh recordings, and to this day the three tracks, "Real Cool Time," "Not Right," and "Little Doll," are easily identifiable as the filler tracks on their self-titled first LP.

Source: Liner notes to the 2005 reissue of The Stooges' 1969 debut album.

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