Iggy Pop grew up as an aficionado of The Beatles, and as an adolescent, he worshipped the band akin to a religion. Thanks to his friendship with David Bowie, he even grew close to John Lennon, which forged an unforgettable experience that still lives long in his memory.
With The Stooges, Iggy Pop smashed through the glass ceiling with the David Bowie-produced record Raw Power. While Iggy’s friendship with Bowie would resurrect his career, put his life back on track, and spark a true relationship, it also allowed for him to meet the great John Lennon. A moment which was of equal importance to Iggy. All three artists had rock ‘n’ roll running wild through their blood, and the colliding of their paths was written in their stars.
“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 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.”
Bizarrely, the meeting with Lennon didn’t happen at a glitzy party in New York or London, but in an alien hotel in Hong Kong during a pit-stop on their way back to Berlin from Japan following a short tour in 1977. Bowie first met Lennon in 1974, and their introduction would come thanks to Hollywood icon Elizabeth Taylor. Lennon’s private life was in a precarious moment around the time of their first meeting, as he suffered from substance abuse and personal issues, which ultimately led to his estrangement from Yoko Ono.
While Lennon was causing mischief on his now infamous ‘Lost Weekend’, Bowie, too, was in the middle of a hedonistic spree, one that would ultimately lead to him staring down the barrel of the gun. From there, a connection was instantly born between the two.
The duo then collaborated on ‘Fame’, which further cemented their friendship. Still, with Bowie moving to Berlin, they hadn’t seen one another for some time, and the freak meeting in a hotel foyer was a chance encounter that they both couldn’t quite believe had occurred.
“I met John in Hong Kong in 1977,” Iggy remembered in 2005 to The Independent. He was travelling with Sean, who was about two years old and was on his way to meet Yoko in Japan. I was with David Bowie and Coco Schwab, his friend and PA, on our way back to Europe from Japan, after a rock tour of my stuff.
“A pair of elevator doors opened, and he stood in the hotel foyer, wearing a basketball jersey that was way too big, and he gave David a very big hug and a kind of laughing, greeting smile. I was surprised to see an English industry giant exhibit such warmth. Also, to see him in a basketball jersey was super-cool (pardon my fandom).”
He continued, “We went to dinner a couple of times, the four of us after Sean was in bed for the night. Also to a topless bar once, and once to tea at a snooty country club. He really knew how to sound off when he wanted to, and at each of the latter two destinations, he rose to his feet to half-yell, half-chortle: ‘Have you ever heard of The Beatles?’ when service was not forthcoming. I think he enjoyed this. I know I did.”
Picturing Lennon semi-jokingly asking waiting staff if they know who he is in Hong Kong shows a playful side to his character, which isn’t often given the light it deserves. Furthermore, it also indicates that perhaps the former Beatle was more comfortable with life in the spotlight than he let on, and truthfully, there were some benefits to fame which he wouldn’t swap for the world.