We’re dipping into the Far Out Magazine vault to look back at a moment where Iggy Pop faced a crowd of angry bikers and lost.
The most incendiary artist in his day, in fact, in most days, Iggy Pop became famed for his riotous behaviour during his live shows with The Stooges. His ruthless energy was unstoppable and it often got him into trouble. One such time saw him getting routinely beaten up by a group of angry bikers in the crowd.
In 1974, Iggy Pop wasn’t the icon of rock and roll he is today. The singer may have been loved by New York’s underbelly but he was still ploughing his way through the dirt and drudgery of Americana rock and touring the toilet circuit. It was around this time when he and The Stooges performed at a bar in the comparatively small town of Warren, Michigan. The crowd, it would seem, were not ready for Iggy Pop.
In fairness to Pop, the singer was likely to not go down well with the crowd no matter what he did to incite them. The audience was full of “hostile bikers” who were in the crowd not for the Stooges’ powerful brand of punk rock but to haze in a new member into their violent gang. Rather than make the new gang member engage with other members of the gang, they instead turn their attentions towards the singer on the stage, the shirtless one strutting around like a peacock. They turned their attention to Iggy Pop.
The gang began to hurl heinous insults at the band, continuously shouting slurs and remarks, making requests and even throwing literal eggs at Iggy. It was an ambience which did not go down well with Iggy and the band. As Lester Bangs notes in his now infamous 1977 article for Village Voice ‘Iggy Pop: Blowtorch In Bondage’, the Stooges didn’t take too kindly to the newfound attention but wouldn’t back down.
Instead of sending back some harsh words, though they did that too, Iggy and the group decided to try and teach the bikers a lesson with their music. “All right, you…wanna hear ‘Louie Louie’? We’ll give you ‘Louie Louie’!” said the singer before playing the soon-to-be-beleaguered song for over 45 minutes. He went one step further and changed the lyrics in the song for slurs aimed at the bikers. Not the smartest move but Iggy doesn’t back down.
The tensions grew in the crowd and Pop finally decided he’d had enough before jumping into the crowd to fight the biker. Now, we know what you’re thinking, surely Iggy Pop can’t defeat a biker gang in one-on-one combat? And you’d be right. He can’t.
Iggy was levelled quickly and effectively by the entire gang before he returned to the stage just long enough to fulfil his contract and get paid.
The following day, the band appeared on Detroit radio station WABX-FM and were sure to dare The Scorpions to show up at their February 9th show at The Palace. While one of the bikers called in to threaten the band at the show. That particular show would see the gang show up and hurl bottles and other projectiles at Iggy, who goads them on.
The band would record the gig and put it out as their infamous Metallica K.O which would not only catch some of the band’s dealings with the gang but also a vulgar rendition of the aforementioned ‘Louie Louie’. It would be one of the last shows the band would ever play, The Stooges would quit the next day.