Iggy Pop biography: Open Up and Bleed by Paul Trynka


I finished reading the Iggy Pop biography Open Up and Bleed by Paul Trynka some time ago. An interesting read, and it covers most of the Godfather of Punk’s life, music, triumphs and misadventures — but how can a book about Iggy fail to mention his superb and slightly surreal performance in Jim Jarmusch’s stylish black & white western Dead Man from 1995?

I’m slowly listening through Iggy Pop’s back catalogue, and it’s not until recently that I’ve fully realized what a great and fierce song Search and Destroy is, off the 1969 Stooges album Raw. I’ve mainly been listening to songs from the Lust for Life record earlier (The Passenger is one of my all time favorite songs), and some stuff he did in the 90s, like This is a Film – the collaboration with Goran Bregović for the movie Arizona Dream (by Kusturica, featuring Johnny Depp and the strange Vincent Gallo).

There are some wonderful and burlesque moments of inadvertent, Spinal Tap-ish self-parody described in the book, such as the one quoted below (page 360-361). You got to love the dedicated legend that is Iggy Pop.

The duel with Sponge’s singer became an obsession, probably in an attempt to blot out the problems with his marriage and with the obviously doomed tour, in which audiences of one or two hundred turned up at 15,000-seater amphitheaters. Despite his band’s attempts to calm down the feud – ‘We’re saying, just relax, they’re only a fuckin’ covers band!” says Peter Marshal – Iggy was determined to ‘push the envelope’, until one night he was faced with a tiny crowd at the huge Polaris Amphitheater in Columbus, Ohio. The band launched into ‘Down On The Street’ to a gaggle of bemused kids who were trying to work out who he was. ‘They look as if they’ve come to see Britney Spears or something, but here’s this little guy with a maniacal look on his face and muscles bulging out everywhere, and he scared the hell out of them’, says Whitey. Both Whitey and Cragin were studying the tiny crowd, who seemed transfixed with confusion and fear by his bizarre apparition, as Iggy ran straight to the edge of the stage, and launched himself out into space. ‘I was watching their shocked faces as he flew towards them’, says Cragin, ‘and they just scattered’.

Iggy hit a bank of chairs, face first, with a sickening impact. ‘It was ugly’, remembers Whitey. As the musicians kept playing, wondering what had happened, Jos Grain bundled the singer back onto the stage. Blood streamed from his face, and one shoulder hung at a bizarre angle, a few inches below his collarbone. For a few minutes he knelt on the stage, clinging to the mike-stand, ‘His eyes all weird, in some weird place’, says Whitey. For a while he seemed to be singing some bizarre, unknown song. Hal thought it was maybe Spanish. ‘Whatever it was sounded real cool’, says Whitey, ‘but it definitely wasn’t Down On The Street’. Finally Jos decided Iggy had sustatined serious damage, hoisted him over his shoulder and carted him into the wings. The band played out the song before leaving the stage to a few half-hearted boos.