I recently had a showing of some selected works at the Royal Albert Hall in London, England. Yes, THAT Royal Albert Hall.
They had some shots of mine of Robert Plant (naturally), and some other British artists, but I got a call from The Times, which is THE paper of choice on that side of the pond. Every Sunday they come out with The Times Magazine, which is a nice, glossy print issue with cool articles about style and art.
They had seen some shots that I had taken of Iggy Pop and had to know the story. It’s kind of summarized for The Times, but here it is:
I had met Danny Sugarman (manager of The Doors) for some work that I had done during the recording of Strange Days and some later shots that I had taken of Jim Morrison. It was around 1974 and he contacted me about a new band that he was managing, Iggy & the Stooges. I was in town, they were playing at The Whiskey, so I figured what the heck. Danny told me that the singer, Iggy Pop, was a wild man and he couldn’t guarantee that Iggy wouldn’t do something outrageous. I grabbed my wife, my Hasselblad with a 120 mm lens, and headed for the club.
When we pulled up out front, my wife noticed an ambulance parked at the curb and asked about what kind of act we were seeing. I told her that I had never seen them but I understood from their manager that the singer was kind of crazy and prone to some crazy antics. Keep in mind, this was way before stage diving and elaborate stage sets. In ’74 you showed up, set up some lights, and played.
It wasn’t horribly crowded in the Whiskey so I was able to get pretty close to the stage, with Iggy practically on top of me. I knew that The Whiskey had a pretty stark setup with decent lighting, so I had gone with black and white and I knew that my gear would get some great high-contrast shots.
I was shooting away, not really paying attention to the actual action, when I caught a glint of something metallic in my viewfinder. Looking up, I saw that Iggy was clutching his microphone in one hand, had a nice-sized kitchen knife in the other, and he was covered in blood. He had slices and little stab wounds all over his chest. He jumped off of the stage and began climbing all over the audience, who seemed anxious to get covered in Iggy. I grabbed my wife and got the heck out of there!
The shot got a little bit of play at the time, but a horribly colorized version later showed up as the cover of Iggy & the Stooges: California Bleeding. I still think that the black & white version does a pretty stellar job of conveying the manic presence of Iggy and the graphic nature of his performance.
I ran into Iggy Pop a few months later, hanging out with Ray Manzarek of The Doors and Alice Cooper. Very funny, very clothed, and no visible wounds. It’s curious; over the years I’ve noticed that Alice and Iggy are two guys that I always seemed to run into. I never realized it at the time, but there they were. A few years back I was looking at the proofs from my shoot of Led Zeppelin at The Riot House. At one point I had stepped onto the balcony with Robert Plant for a quick smoke. It was a few years before the Whiskey show that formally introduced me to Iggy, but as I looked through the proofs (some 30 years later) there he was!