By Michael Goldstein of the Rock Pop Gallery
Subject – “Life, Death, Love and Hate”, a photograph by James Fortune used as the cover of California Bleeding, a CD of 1973-74 live concert recordings of Iggy Pop & The Stooges released in 1997 on Bomp! Records.
With 1973’s Raw Power serving as a pre-cursor to (and strong influence for) the hard-core punk music movement that was to occur a few years later, Iggy and the Stooges built a small but hard-core base of fans and would seemingly stop at nothing to serve as that era’s “poster children” for the self-destructive lifestyle. It was during their live performances that Iggy would dive from the stage, or flash his privates, or smear raw meat on himself and, quite often, use a knife or broken beer bottle to cut himself – tactics later recreated by many punk artists (an homage, perhaps?). “The Godfather of Punk” and his band put on legendary shows, including a five-day booking at LA’s Whisky A Go Go in 1973, the recording of which serves as the basis of today’s Cover Story.
After disbanding in early 1974 due to the band’s famous drug problems, The Stooges reunited in 2003, appearing on Iggy’s Skull Ring record with original members Iggy Pop on vocals, Scott Asheton on drums, and Ron Asheton on both guitar and bass. When touring live, The Stooges have performed by adding bassist Mike Watt (The Minutemen) and Steve MacKay (Fun House) on saxophone. And while he never had the huge commercial success of many of his peers and contemporaries (David Bowie, Alice Cooper, The Doors), songs such as “Search and Destroy”, “Lust for Life”, “Candy”, “I’m Bored” and “Real Wild Child” always rank high on the list of most-influential rock recordings.
Iggy’s life story will soon be a motion picture – “The Passenger” is currently in production for a 2008 release and, personally, I hope that they bring in Robert Downey, Jr. to play him at some point – the resemblance is uncanny (currently, Frodo Baggins/Elijah Woods is set to star) and the lifestyle choices both shared at one point are uncanny, too.
The image shown at the beginning of the column was the original black and white photograph (the colorized version used on the cover is shown below) and it is a perfect portrait of Iggy Pop at his outrageous best. It shows Iggy clutching a mic in one hand, a knife in the other, with blood is running down his chest from several self-inflicted cuts. Photographer James Fortune tells us what it was like to be there to take the photograph that is the subject of today’s feature…
In the words of photographer James Fortune (interviewed early July 2007 at his home in Virginia) –
“While I was in college and working hard to break into the world as a rock and roll photographer, I met Danny Sugerman when I was photographing the band he managed – The Doors. Later on, Danny called me to help him shoot a photo of Ray Manzarek that would ultimately be used for the cover of his 2nd solo record and, because of that relationship, when a new band that he managed – Iggy & The Stooges – went to play the Whiskey in late 1973, he asked me to photograph those performances, too.
Prior to packing up my equipment and driving out to the club with my wife, Danny gave me a warning that ‘Iggy will get physical’, but he didn’t elaborate. When we arrived at the club, there was an ambulance parked outside and my wife asked me ‘why do you think that is there’? As I’d never seen the band, I really couldn’t answer her.
Since I used a 120mm lens on my Hasselblad to be able to take high-resolution B&W images and close-ups, I really wasn’t paying much attention to what was going on overall during the performance when suddenly I saw that Iggy had a rather large knife in his hand. Then, without any obvious reason, he started stabbing and cutting himself. He’s 5 to 10 feet away from me and, as you can see by the photograph, he’s bleeding pretty badly. He then jumps down into the audience and he’s mobbed by his fans. I picked up my wife and my equipment and quietly left the club…
Six months later, Ray Manzarek’s band is playing and Danny invited me over to photograph him and his friends as they played and partied. There was Danny, Alice Cooper, John Densmore, and Iggy. They were all in good moods, having a good time, and there was no violence to speak of at the event.
In 1980, I packed up all of my negatives and moved them with me to Virginia (where he currently lives and works as a photographer – MG) and then in the late 1990s I began to digitize them. I had done some jobs for Columbia Records and knew of Michael Ochs, who was a publicist there and had since started the Michael Ochs Archives. In 1997, Michael was looking for some pictures to sell and so I sent him 70-80 8x10s from my collection, including the pictures I’d taken of Iggy at the Whiskey. One day not long after, I was told that the Iggy photo was sold for use as an album cover. While I did get a check and an album credit, I had no say about how it was going to be used – it turns out that they somehow colorized the photo (see below).
Needless to say, I now have an agent…”
Iggy Pop-related bonus story #1 – “When I was packing up my photos and moving out to Virginia in 1980, I called Danny Sugerman and offered to sell him all of my Doors and Iggy Pop negatives, and he turned me down. Now, I’m REALLY glad he did!”
Iggy Pop-related bonus story #2 – While James thought that his photographs of Iggy at the Whiskey were his first, he actually had taken an earlier photo. “I had contacted one of the big PR firms in LA (Salters & Roskin) and told them that I was interested in photographing Led Zeppelin if there was ever a chance, so one day in January 1973 I received a call and was told to go to a hotel where the band was encamped – they were in town to play a show and were at the hotel ‘getting ready’. After they invited me in, I started taking shots and, at one point, followed Robert Plant out on to the balcony of their suite where there were some people I knew and others I didn’t, but I said “hello” to everyone. Years later, I was going through my files and found those photos and, lo and behold, one of the people on the balcony was Iggy Pop. It’s pretty obvious that he was one of those people you just had to party with in LA!”
About James Fortune (from his bio) –
There’s a very good chance you’ve seen the photography of James Fortune before. Like many of the 70s most famous rock photographers, his images have been seen by millions in books, magazines and album covers. One of his pictures of Jimmy Page was used for the cover of Led Zeppelin’s 2003 release titled How The West Was Won.
Beginning as a photographer for his college paper in the late ’60s, Fortune spent more than a decade photographing rock music icons like The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Doors, Paul McCartney, Led Zeppelin, Elton John, and countless others. His catalog of over 15,000 images from the tumultuous ’60s and ’70s contains shots of everything from hippie riots in Hollywood to Gene Simmons and Cher sharing an eclair. He ran with the high-and-mighty and photographed them all – Jimmy Carter and the Bee Gees, Iggy Pop, Eric Clapton and Ronald Reagan. His photographs capture moments in rock history. Back in the 1970’s, in the aftermath of a world-wide political, civil, and sexual revolutions, Fortune plied his trade in the backstage areas and VIP sections of some of the nation’s biggest musical events. His work even spanned the Pacific to Vietnam, where the intrepid photographer served active duty from 1968 to 1970 with the U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet Combat Camera Group.
Since moving to Virginia in 1980, James has kept himself busy on photo assignments of all types. To see more of his work, please visit his site at
To see examples of Mr. Fortune’s work in the RockPoP Gallery collection, please click on the following link:
About “Cover Stories” – Our weekly series will give you, the music and art fan, a look at “the making of” the illustrations, photographs and designs of many of the most-recognized and influential images that have served to package and promote your all-time-favorite recordings.
Every Friday on syndicated on he Rock and Roll Report the following Monday, we’ll meet the artists, designers and photographers who produced these works of art and learn what motivated them, what processes they used, how they collaborated (or fought) with the musical acts, their management, their labels, etc. – all of the things that influenced the final product you saw then and still see today.
We hope that you enjoy these looks behind the scenes of the music-related art business and that you’ll share your stories with us and fellow fans about what role these works of art – and the music they covered – played in your lives.
All images used to illustrate this story Copyright James Fortune – All Rights Reserved.