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Last Updated: Friday, 27 April 2007, 16:40 GMT 17:40 UK
Faces of the week
Faces of the Week

Our regular look at some of the names which have made the news this week. Above are IGGY POP (main picture), with TAMARA MELLON, PHIL SPECTOR, MICHAEL BALL and LUCIE BLACKMAN.


Iggy Pop has turned 60. Three decades ago, if you'd put money on that eventuality, you'd have become rich.

He embodies every excess ever associated with rock stars.

Somehow, the man regarded as the forerunner of the punk movement, has survived drug addiction, self-mutilation, mental disorders and violence.

Add to his life mixture other noxious ingredients including under-age sex, habitual indecent exposure and infidelity, and you just about have the archetypal feral rock star.

According to music journalist Paul Lester: "When you look at the edgy, dark side of rock and roll, when you take away all the myths of books and films or whatever, there are only two people who embody the essence of the rock star - Keith Richards and Iggy Pop. Iggy has sold hardly any records in comparison but he's the biggest underground star in history."

Even at 60, Iggy Pop is still diving into his audience, a practice he first began in the 1960s as a way of "connecting" with it.

Iggy Pop, real name James Osterberg Jr, was always something of a misfit both personally and musically. He grew up as an only child in a trailer park near Ann Arbor, in Michigan.

Iggy Pop in concert in LA this year
Iggy Pop's concerts are still as energetic today
His father was a teacher, and a strict disciplinarian, and James grew up as a bright kid surrounded by low achievers. Then later at his high school, he was surrounded by students far richer than him.

In the mid to late 1960s when the hippies' peace and love ideal was becoming more and more commercialised, young Osterberg felt more and more alienated. Alienation was a feeling that was to last.

Named after his first school band, The Iguanas, he achieved notoriety with Iggy and the Stooges.

The group set its sail firmly against the prevailing musical wind, rejecting harmony and counter-cultural experimentation for industrial discord and raw, energetic, unkempt rock. One critic branded it "simplistic aural thuggery".

Iggy Pop's concert performances were outlandish, what the writer Lester Bangs once described as "illiterate chaos".

At one famous gig in New York, he landed on a table full of glasses which shattered under his weight, cutting him so badly that he nearly died through loss of blood. Yet he managed to finish the performance first.

Stooges split

The Stooges' albums were slaughtered in the music press, and most of their audiences didn't like the band, subjecting Iggy Pop to all manner of abuse which he dutifully learnt to return.

This phenomenon became a feature of the British punk music a decade later. Today, he still spits on his audiences, albeit in a more "ritualised" context.

By the end of the 1970s, Iggy and The Stooges had split up, burnt out and largely unappreciated but for the odd song like I Wanna Be Your Dog. Their bass guitarist Dave Alexander had drunk himself to death. The music industry turned its back on them.

Iggy characterised the group's time together as "all the Ds - destruction, depravity, dispossession, decadence and despair". He might have added another one later - direction, for they would become a huge influence on the developing music scene.

Iggy Pop embarked on an erratic solo career, helped by his then friend and mentor David Bowie who had rescued him from an LA psychiatric ward where he was being treated for mental disorders and addictions.

David Bowie in concert
David Bowie was a friend and mentor
Bowie took him to Berlin where he produced two Iggy Pop albums, Lust for Life and The Idiot. There were two classic pop singles too, The Passenger and Real Wild Child.

Bowie collaborated on the 1986 Blah Blah Blah album and his own work, Jean Genie, was said to have been written about Iggy Pop.

The advent of Grunge saw Iggy Pop's stock rise. The soundtrack from the film Trainspotting exposed him to a new generation. Songs like The Passenger then received wide publicity through TV commercials.

Covers of his songs became widespread including by Bowie himself.

The decision to re-form The Stooges in 2004 was taken partly as a response to the growing recognition and to the so-called "corporatisation" of rock.

Their concerts recaptured the energy and dynamism of their heyday, Iggy retaining his charisma despite his advancing years.

They have been lucrative for the band members too, though their new album, The Weirdness, their first in 34 years, has not had great reviews.

Nevertheless, inevitably, in private, Iggy Pop has left the wild days far behind. His biggest vice nowadays, he says, is a glass or two of red wine and coffee.

"I do about 40 minutes a day of exercises of a Chinese origin called Qi Qong," he says. "It's like Tai Chi. I try to go to bed early and I try to anticipate all my perversions and lusts and take care of them efficiently. That seems to work for me."

Tamara Mellon

The former husband of Tamara Mellon, co-founder of the multi-million dollar Jimmy Choo shoe brand, employed a computer specialist to hack into her confidential emails, a court in London heard this week. American born, Matthew Mellon, heir to a 4m banking fortune, allegedly took the action during a bitter divorce battle with the 37-year-old former IT Girl. Mr Mellon denies conspiring with others to cause unauthorised modification of computer material. The case continues.

Phil Spector

The trial has begun in Los Angeles of the legendary '60s "Wall of Sound" record producer, Phil Spector, who is charged with the murder of a former waitress and B-movie actress Lana Clarkson some four years ago. The court proceedings are being broadcast on TV and the internet. Lana Clarkson died from gunshot wounds to the face at Spector's home he called his "castle" after accepting an invitation to have a drink with him. Spector denies the charge.

Michael Ball

In an effort to broaden the appeal of the annual prestigious BBC Promenade Concerts, traditionally given over to classical music, the Proms are to devote an entire evening to Broadway and West End musicals, with songs performed by Michael Ball. These will include several by Andrew Lloyd Webber. According to the man in charge, Nicholas Kenyon, Ball "deserves a place at the Proms just as much as performers in the great classical tradition".

Lucie Blackman

There was astonishment in a Japanese courtroom this week when the man accused of murdering British hostess Lucie Blackman seven years ago was acquitted. More than 99% of cases which go to trial in Japan end in a conviction. The man, Joji Obara was nevertheless sentenced to life imprisonment for the rapes of nine other women. Lucie Blackman's body was found near Obara's home, chopped into 10 pieces with her head encased in concrete.

Written by BBC News Profiles Unit's Bob Chaundy

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