Iggy Pop honors a fallen Stooge

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Iggy Pop honors a fallen Stooge

DETROIT - If it wasn’t already clear to those who have seen or heard Iggy Pop during the past four decades, his latest moves confirm he’s not one to back down from a challenge.

The punk pioneer and sonic provocateur returned to the Michigan town that spawned his band the Stooges to pay tribute to fallen bandmate Ron Asheton in an eclectic show in Ann Arbor. The concert came on the heels of a surprise appearance April 7 on “American Idol,” where the 63-year-old Pop sang “Real Wild Child,” writhed shirtless among enthusiastic contestants and shimmied up to host Jennifer Lopez.

Despite the differences, the two appearances underscore a career of avoiding the expected.

“On the one hand, it’s good to go into it .?.?. saying, ‘Look, it’s just a gig, it’s what I do,’” Pop told The Associated Press by phone from his home in Miami. “On the other hand, try to leave room open for whatever you feel on the occasion.”

The decision to appear on “Idol” was at once simple - “they invited me” - and complex: He had little love for the long-running show but even less for people “who lurk in the shadows” and complain.

“I was informed very quickly by people who love me and care about me that if I went on the show, everybody who liked the show was going to hate me and everybody who liked me was going to hate me for doing that show,” he said. “I’m kind of a stubborn person, so that just made me really determined: ‘I’m going to .?.?. do it anyway.’”

For the Michigan show, there’s also determination born of a desire to give his late friend a proper musical send-off. He’s excited to hear and play Stooges’ songs with the band, musicians such as Henry Rollins, and even a classical ensemble.

“[Asheton’s] best themes are particularly really, really good and fun and easy for people to use as get-together songs - they’re almost like campfire songs,” Pop said of such songs as, “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” “No Fun” and “T.V. Eye.” “That’s why so many groups record early Stooges songs as B sides or album tracks, because they’re simple and a hell of a lot of fun to play and they have a certain dynamic.”

Plus, he said, “When you pass away, why not have a trumpet, kettle drum and some string players? That doesn’t sound too bad to me.”

The show is a benefit for the Ron Asheton Foundation. Asheton died in 2009, a year before his band’s long-awaited induction into the Rock and Hall of Fame.

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