Is it possible to adore a rock star who has been known to throw watermelons at concertgoers, defecate onstage behind an amplifier and purposefully cut his bare chest with a shard of glass? You betcha.
Born and raised in Nowheresville, Mich., James Osterberg was every mother’s dream: brilliant, charismatic, an all-around good guy. But during high school, Jimmy took up the drums and decided that playing loud was more fun than being an all-around good guy. He joined a band, some music-making thugs introduced him to mind-bending drugs, and before long, our hero was front man for a dumb but charming group called The Stooges. Jimmy Osterberg became Iggy Pop, and Iggy Pop became one of the most iconic musical figures of the late ’60s and early ’70s. But those drugs took their toll, and Ig’s career turned into a peaks-and-valleys mess. He betrayed friends, antagonized audiences, alienated supporters like David Bowie and yet found time to cut a batch of records that defined the punk era and made an indelible imprint on rock that resonates today. Music writer Trynka makes a solid case for Iggy’s anointment as rock divinity. With The Stooges and on his own, he created some terrific music—“I Wanna Be Your Dog,” “Lust for Life,” “The Passenger” and the entire Metallic K.O. album, for instance—though he’s definitely an acquired taste, and a good chunk of his catalogue is all but unlistenable. The author’s enthusiastic, lucid song analysis encourages readers to rethink the rougher material. Unashamedly enamored of his subject, he’s even able to make Iggy’s bad behavior—and there was tons of it—seem acceptable and even enchanting.
The author’s love for a flawed-but-deep-down-okay dude, plus his amazing eye for detail, make this one of the finest rock bios of recent memory: Music and pop culture fans will dig it even if they don’t dig Ig.