Osterberg became known as “Iggy” in high school, when he served as drummer for a local blues band, The Iguanas.
James Newell Osterberg, Jr. was born in Muskegon, Michigan, the son of Louella (née Christensen) and James Newell Osterberg, Sr., a former high school English teacher and baseball coach at Fordson High School in Dearborn, Michigan.
Osterberg was raised in a trailer park in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
He is of English and Irish descent on his father’s side, and Norwegian and Danish ancestry on his mother’s.
After exploring local blues-style bands such as the Prime Movers (with brothers Dan and Michael Erlewine), he eventually dropped out of the University of Michigan and moved to Chicago to learn more about blues.
While in Chicago, he played drums in blues clubs, helped by Sam Lay (formerly of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band) who shared his connections with Iggy.
Inspired by Chicago blues as well as bands like The Sonics, The MC5 and The Doors, he formed the Psychedelic Stooges and began calling himself Iggy.
In 1968, one year after their live debut and now dubbed The Stooges, the band signed with Elektra Records, again following in the footsteps of The Doors, who were Elektra’s biggest act at the time (reportedly, Pop called Moe Howard to see if it was all right to call his band “The Stooges,” to which Howard responded by merely saying “I don’t care what they call themselves, as long as they’re not the Three Stooges!” and hung up the phone).
The Stooges’ first two albums The Stooges, (on which Pop was credited as “Iggy Stooge”), produced by John Cale; and Fun House, sold poorly.
Though the release of Fun House didn’t receive the recognition it expected, it would later be ranked #191 in Rolling Stone’s ‘500 Greatest Albums of All Time’ in 2003.
Shortly after the new members joined, the group disbanded because of Pop’s worsening heroin addiction.
In 1987, Pop appeared (along with Bootsy Collins) on a mostly instrumental album, Neo Geo, by Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto.
The music video for “Risky”, written and directed by Meiert Avis, won the first ever MTV Breakthrough Video Award. The groundbreaking video explores transhumanist philosopher FM-2030’s ideas of Nostalgia for the Future in the form of an imagined love affair between a robot and one of Man Ray’s models in Paris in the late 1930s.
Additional inspiration was drawn from Jean Baudrillard, Edvard Munch’s 1894 painting Puberty, and Roland Barthes Death of the Author.
The surrealist black-and-white video uses stop motion, light painting, and other retro in-camera effects techniques. Meiert Avis recorded Sakamoto while at work on the score for The Last Emperor in London.
Sakamoto also appears in the video painting words and messages to an open shutter camera.
Iggy Pop, who performs the vocals on “Risky”, chose not to appear in the video, allowing his performance space to be occupied by the surrealist era robot.
In 2003 the Stooges reunited, collaborating on Iggy’s Skull Ring and performing live across Europe and the U.S. Channeling their momentum as a working band, Iggy and the Asheton brothers finally found their way back into the studio to record their first album since 1973’s Raw Power.
The Weirdness, produced by Steve Albini, was released on March 7th, 2007.
The following year Madonna, in protest of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s failure at the time to have yet inducted the Stooges, asked the Stooges to perform some of her songs in her place; Pop sang hard-rock versions of “Burning Up” and “Ray of Light.”