Bowie, Pop and the Hoople
8 January 2021-
Today would have been the great David Bowie's 74th birthday. While a group of stellar musicians are slated to perform at a special tribute show this evening, let us remember the man in a slightly different way: through Iggy Pop's recollections of his collaborations with Mott the Hoople...
Let us set the stage a little: the year is 2013 and the (also) great Iggy Pop is talking to comedian Marc Maron on the latter’s WTF (read between the lines) podcast. To Maron’s relative disbelief, it turns out Pop is arguably as quick witted as a Comedy Cellar-grade stand-up performer would hope to be, leaving Maron in proper stitches. The best part comes when the comedian prompts Pop to discuss his collaboration with the man of the hour/day: David Bowie.
Famously, Bowie — much like fellow legend Prince — produced world class material not only for himself, but for others too. One of the best examples of that is, obviously, the 1977 one-two punch that were Lust for life and The Idiot, i.e. the albums produced by the pair during their Berlin era and which effectively skyrocketed Iggy Pop into solo stardom (after a first semi-underground stint as The Stooges‘ frontman). Another interesting case is British band Mott the Hoople, whose biggest hit, “All the young dudes”, was penned by the very same Bowie. You might think that’s besides the point, but it ain’t…
While Bowie and Pop’s late 1970’s Berlin-based collaboration is very widely known, fewer realize that the two actually met years before, when Pop was still a Stooge and Bowie was just becoming a bona fide, albeit young rock god. As Pop was then experimenting a little too intently with a little drug called heroin, the record company thought it wise to bring in some new blood for the band to finish work on their third and last album, the 1973 (now) classic Raw Power. While Bowie later admitted to having a limited role in producing the LP, Pop recollected as to some of the reasons why on that 2013 podcast:
“He’s rrrrreally talented and energetic and what would have happened was, if he’d come in, he would have had three great songs for us that would have defined us, and we never would have found our own personality… we would have become Mott the Hoople.”
To be clear, singer Ian Hunter’s Mott the Hoople was an accomplished glam rock band in their own right, but one could argue that Bowie’s shadow somehow always lingered around the band’s musical legacy. And, while Pop later very much associated his artistic destiny with the great man’s, he did so after having first cemented his own personal place into rock heaven — despite not quite being sober when it all happened…
Such was Bowie’s influence on everything he touched: throughout a 27 LP-strong personal discography as well as his innumerable collaborations till the very end (that includes the remarkable musical Lazarus, produced during the artist’s last year on this earth), the man always managed to transcend the projects he was involved with, perpetually reinventing himself, surprising audiences with new sounds and ideas, creating original music like very few did before him — and very few will after.
Rest in peace, Mr. Jones.