Henry Rollins: The Column! Happy Birthday Iggy Pop! Your Biggest Fan, Henry
[Look for your weekly fix from the one and only Henry Rollins right here on West Coast Sound every Thursday, and come back tomorrow for the awesomely annotated playlist for his Saturday KCRW broadcast.]
Iggy Pop, who was born on April 21, 1947, turns 65 this Saturday. It is perhaps a waste of time to assign an age to someone so uniquely ageless, but it gives me an excuse to write about him. The passing years have made his face all the more charismatic; his cheekbones and jaw line are more rugged, his eyes more fiercely focused.
Does he need an introduction? After all this time, do we have to point out that Iggy Pop was born James Osterberg in the great state of Michigan? Do we need to say that, together with the Asheton brothers, Ron and Scott, and Dave Alexander, he formed the Stooges, a band that is as essential to rock music as water is to life?
From the '60s to this moment, Iggy Pop has been a solid reminder of what happens when an artist stays true to himself only and doesn't give a damn about the rest of it. For this, there is a price to be paid, and most of us cannot and would not have the stamina or the sheer guts to foot the bill.
Elvis Presley has been crowned "the King of Rock & Roll" by someone somewhere, and apparently, it has stuck. That's fine, kings are swell. I have always maintained that Iggy Pop is the Heavyweight Champion of Rock & Roll.
In our lifetime, there will be no other like him. There is no one alive in music who has been battling the forces of nature like Iggy. Nope, sorry, not Mick Jagger, who, in all his uncontested greatness, has left only a small fraction of the blood onstage that Iggy Pop has. Anyone else? I'll answer -- no, there is not.
Iggy Pop, weatherer of many storms, maker of many mistakes, perpetrator of numerous victories and failures, has let it all hang out. The honesty is, at times, more than you want to deal with. The level of guts, genius and insanity that this requires is all his. Entire genres of music come and go, taking along with them their momentary heroes, some of whom survive only to bloat and have plastic surgeons cut away parts of their faces. Far more just become irrelevant, fade away or die. Iggy Pop was making records before they were born, and he is still here.