This past Sunday, Iggy Pop and The Stooges drummer Scott Asheton passed away at the age of 64. A co-founder of the seminal proto-punk outfit, Asheton was one of only two remaining original members (alongside Pop himself). Undoubtedly, the loss of his bandmate and close, personal friend has left Iggy Pop feeling shaken and somewhat uncertain. In open letter released via Rolling Stone, Pop addresses Asheton’s death, specifically expressing reservations over the band’s future.
“I don’t want to say that I’m done with the band,” Pop wrote. “I would just say that I feel like the group has always included the Asheton brothers. When Ron passed away, Scott represented him. Nearly everything we play, Ron played on originally. I don’t feel right now like there’s any reason for me to go jumping out onstage in tight Levi’s. What am I going to scream about?”
Pop continued, saying that he “just can’t see the band playing in the near future. It would just be wrong.” While he did leave the door open for future projects (“But if something comes up, you should be open to it”), he said any subsequent plans “depend on the feeling of the family and the surviving members. James Williamson was in the group and I’ve been there since it started. It would depend on the realities and the musical truth.”
If anything, Pop explained, these times of uncertainty can be a good thing for bands, offering a chance for much-needed perspective. “A good rock group is a musical gift as well as a social phenomenon,”he said. “What usually happens is that at various times within the timeline of any of these groups, divisions emerge and feelings mount that have no outlet. Those can cause destruction. They can cause falsehood. I think they can be recognized and best dealt with by stepping back.”
Pop concluded by mentioning he has “no plans to tour solo”, nor “plans to be a touring musician for the next couple of years.” He added, “I’ve toured almost every year out of the past forty years. I’ll probably tour again at some point, but I don’t know when and I don’t know how.”
No doubt Asheton’s death isn’t the only source of conflict for Iggy Pop. Just last week, it was announced that guitarist James Williamson had recruited several band members to record a new album of Raw Power-era leftovers without their dynamic frontman. (Pop had originally come out against the decision before abruptly releasing a statement lending his support.) For the album, due out in August or September, Pop is “replaced” by all-star vocalists like Mark Lanegan, Ariel Pink, and Jello Biafra, among others.
In the letter, Pop commemorates Scott Asheton, writing that he “played with a boxer’s intensity”, while sharing a few intimate stories and personal anecdotes. Read the letter in full here.