Iggy Pop’s John Peel Lecture: 5 Things We Learned

Last night, Iggy Pop took to the stage at Salford’s Lowry to reveal a lust for lecterns. Delivering the fourth annual John Peel address, he tackled the subject of “free music in a capitalist society”, which was broadcast live on 6Music – where the 67-year-old singer hosts a weekly show – and will be repeated on BBC4 on Sunday. “The shit has really shit the fan on the subject thanks to U2 and Apple,” he said. He blasted Bono and co. for “giving away music before it can flop, in an effort to stay huge,” and offered the view that illegal file-sharing means “we are exchanging the corporate rip-off for the public one.” But what else did we learn?

Iggy Pop would make a killer best man’s speech

Iggy confessed that he dropped out of university after one semester – “because I couldn’t hack the lectures” – and revealed an initial worry about whether he’d be interesting enough to pull this off. Although he didn’t slather himself in peanut butter and hurl himself at the members of Everything Everything in the audience, he did bring punk spirit to his address. His idea of formal wear was an unbuttoned black shirt, revealing his torso, while he prowled the stage with the fidgety energy of a kid that’s been told to sit on his hands. Talking about the tension of creating art versus the need to be paid for it, he was astute, with some great turns of phrase and waspish one-liners – such as advising kids to “stay away from drugs…. and talent judges”.



Bernard Sumner should host Countryfile

Like a rock Careers Adviser, Pop emphasised the need for artists to “diversify”. In a world where illegal downloading means record sales are diminishing, they should spread their talents and seek alternative revenue sources. “If I had to depend on what I actually get from sales, I’d be tending bars between sets,” he said, which admittedly sounds like the best VIP gig package ever. In an after-event Q&A, he even suggested New Order’s Bernard Sumner explore avenues outside music, such as “hosting a bird-watching show – have you seen Countryfile?”.

The Ramones were jealous of The Offspring

Hard as it is to believe, The Ramones succumbed to the green-eyed monster over the Californian punk-pop mites. “Johnny asked me one day – ‘Iggy, don’t you hate Offspring and the way they’re so popular with that crap they play? That should be us, they stole from us.’” Fortunately, Iggy was on hand to reassure him: “Not everybody is meant to be big. Not everybody big is any good.”


Growing up, Iggy Pop hated radio – now he’s a convert


He’d suffer through the entire Smashie and Nicey-style US radio Top 40 “waiting for that one song by The Beatles and the other one by The Kinks.” But if John Peel – who was the first DJ on UK radio to play a Stooges song – had been available in his mid-western town, he’d have been “thrilled”. Hosting his own 6Music show, he said, “I almost feel like I don’t want to make any more music because there’s already so much good stuff out there.”

Iggy Pop has gone from Marxist to shrewd businessman

When he started The Stooges, they were “utopian communists”, sharing publishing, songwriting and royalty credits equally, “because we’d seen it on the back of a Doors album and thought it was cool”, and came to realise that “when it comes to art, money is an unimportant detail – it just happens to be a huge unimportant detail.” Hitting 30, and penniless, he had to sell his future rights to keep going. But in 1992, he bought Apple stocks after feeling they’d inherited the “goodwill” that people felt towards The Beatles. And never underestimate the power of a puppet version of yourself. “If you wanna make money, well, how about car insurance? At least I’m honest”.

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