When David Bowie and Iggy Pop decided to up-sticks and move to Berlin, the journey they went on to create some of the most delectable art-rock albums of all-time wasn’t just a creative voyage but a personal one as they looked to escape from the devilish trappings of addiction. That year saw both men strike up a brotherly bond that saw them both save one another, and Iggy remains forever grateful for how Bowie managed his rescue mission.
The duo, who lived together while staying in the German capital, performed, wrote, played, partied, toured and collaborated since the 1970s, becoming inseparable as a fearlessly creative musical dynamo. Aside from their time together in the studio and on the road, the duo also became the closest confidantes. With their deviousness and devotion to their craft, as well as one another, they were becoming more and more embroiled with their intertwining lives connected with every passing musical project and year of friendship.
“The friendship was basically that this guy salvaged me from certain professional and maybe personal annihilation — simple as that,” Iggy said following Bowie’s death. “A lot of people were curious about me, but only he was the one who had enough truly in common with me, and who actually really liked what I did and could get on board with it, and who also had decent enough intentions to help me out. He did a good thing.”
“He resurrected me.” Pop added. “He was more of a benefactor than a friend in a way most people think of friendship. He went a bit out of his way to bestow some good karma on me.”
Iggy was struggling with heroin addiction before making a move to Berlin, but he was also in a blip creatively. The Stooges had called it a day, and his last record was in 1973 before Bowie came along to whisk him away to Berlin in 1976, which would lead to them recording two albums together that revived his artistry, making him a star in his own right.
Speaking to MTV News in 1990, Iggy Pop discussed his resurrection in more detail: “Well put it this way, before I made that record (The Idiot), I was a street person in LA basically,” he said. “I’d been kind of stymied by the entire music business and a really disastrous manager in general, drug problems and drinking, general carousing. So at the time, I could have put together a stock-rock band, something glam, something tasteless, but I didn’t want to do that.”
Adding: “It was really timely that he basically suggested two things, getting out of LA, which was great and making an album together, which was a good idea. I think if he had not come along with that proposal, I’d probably not be talking to you now. I’d be playing somewhere, probably 42nd Street or something like that. It was a good stroke, y’know.”
The two men tragically lost touch after 2002. They drifted after Bowie attempted to bring Iggy to his new record label, but his old-friend was under contract already somewhere else. Scheduling conflicts also prevented Iggy from taking part at the Meltdown Festival in London, which Bowie was curating.
Although their friendship sadly didn’t last the test of time, and their lives went down different avenues, there remains unshakeable respect and gratitude that Iggy holds for Bowie that will never leave him. The Starman didn’t just get his career back on track, but, most notably, his life and inserted a renewed lust for life in Iggy. Despite his wondrous talent, the world doesn’t owe you anything, and if it wasn’t for Bowie, then Iggy could have become just another jaded and faded one-time-rockstar, playing for a free bar tab. Thankfully that wasn’t the case, and he is an iconic figure who is still important today.