When Iggy Pop is on-stage, he’s the ultimate anarchic rock and roll frontman. However, Iggy’s personal music taste varies and contains artists from all over the sonic spectrum. Somewhat surprisingly, the former Stooges leader is actually a jazz enthusiast and listens to the late John Coltrane “more than any other single artist”.
Coltrane passed away over half a century ago, but his impact on the musical landscape can still be felt through the artists he continues to inspire. Although Iggy Pop doesn’t appear to have allowed his love of the late musician to infiltrate his work on the surface level, it doesn’t deplete his respect and adoration towards Coltrane’s immense back catalogue.
A year before his death, the great man said of his output and the desired effect he wanted it to have on the world: “I know that there are bad forces, forces that bring suffering to others and misery to the world. I want to be the opposite force. I want to be the force which is truly for good.”
From Iggy’s perspective, Coltrane is undoubtedly a force for good. Picking a favourite from his collection of records is too difficult of a task for The Stooges singer. Instead, he cheated when asked to name his 12 favourite albums to EW. Instead of simply picking one LP by Coltrane, he selected The Heavyweight Champion box set. Explaining his decision, Iggy said: “You can put it on in a car before dinner, if you’re lonesome—he always flows real nice. Probably more than any other single artist, I listen to him.”
Meanwhile, in Kristine McKenna’s book, Talk to her: Interviews, Iggy revealed. “The first time I heard Coltrane the cut was A Love Supreme, and that’s an extremely simple three-note bass line that repeats without variance throughout the duration of a very long piece.”
He added: “I was a novice unfamiliar with that sort of jazz, and I heard him run through the gamut of emotions on his horn, from tender to angry to bluesy to just…insane, to where it actually sounded offensive to me—until later. I liked the way he was dancing over, above, under, within, and without this rock-solid motif that didn’t change, and that three-note motif established a trance world where he could do all those things. It seemed timely, spiritual, and earthy all at the same time. What I heard John Coltrane do with his horn I tried to do physically.”
While Iggy has never been a technician in the mould of Coltrane, he’s extrapolated every ounce out of his body to the same degree as his hero did with a saxophone. Although their libraries of material are incomparable, their devoted love for the art form is equally impressive.