Iggy Pop’s Totally Bonkers Contract Rider for Concerts

Pho­to by Man Alive!, via Wiki­me­dia Com­mons

“There’s only a cou­ple of peo­ple I’ve felt gen­uine­ly fright­ened tak­ing pho­tos in front of live because the per­son is out of con­trol,” says Man­ches­ter-based rock pho­tog­ra­ph­er Kevin Cum­mins. The first was Joy Division’s Ian Cur­tis, “and Iggy Pop was anoth­er.” Iggy’s onstage mania rivals any lead singer, liv­ing or dead. The intim­i­dat­ing Hen­ry Rollins tells a sto­ry about his one and only attempt to upstage his idol. He describes Iggy as “two guys. There’s Jim (Jim Osterberg)—‘Hey, my name’s Jim, good to meet you, man, how are you?’ And then there’s Iggy Pop,” Rollins says, and does an impres­sion of a seething mad­man. “Jim is cool. Iggy is like this ter­ri­fy­ing mon­ster of rock and roll.”

You’ve prob­a­bly heard the sto­ries of those ear­ly Stooges gigs. Smear­ing him­self with peanut but­ter, cut­ting him­self open with bro­ken glass and leap­ing into the audi­ence long before stage-div­ing was some­thing peo­ple did. We’ve also heard a lot more from Jim these days: shirt­less, but “lucid, intel­li­gent,” and dis­play­ing excel­lent recall in his inter­view with Marc Maron in the comedian’s garage; most­ly clothed, bespec­ta­cled, and pro­fes­so­r­i­al in his deliv­ery of the BBC’s 2014 John Peel Lec­ture.

In inter­views and on his radio show, includ­ing a recent two-hour Bowie trib­ute, he is wit­ty, gre­gar­i­ous, and some­times wist­ful. But Iggy’s still pret­ty ter­ri­fy­ing onstage even into his elder-states­man-hood. Wit­ness the stage plan drawn up in 2006 by Jos Grain, pro­duc­tion man­ag­er for the 21st-cen­tu­ry tour­ing ver­sion of Iggy and The Stooges.

we like to keep it as clear as pos­si­ble, espe­cial­ly at the front.

This means all cables for the down­stage wedges etc must be run off the front in the pit, not accross the front of the stage.

My insur­ance does­n’t cov­er me for allow­ing rock­stars to fall off the front of the stage.

No light­ing or mon­i­tor cables, no pow­er cables, no toy robots, no tele­vi­sion evan­ge­lists, no tele­vi­sion cam­era­men, no sub­stances relat­ed to the man­u­fac­ture of cre­osote, no plas­tic sea­hors­es, no baili­wicks, no crepes­cules, no kooks and espe­cial­ly NO CAMERAMEN.

This way Iggy can run around in his cus­tom­ary man­ner like a crazed run­ning around-type-thing and we can all relax in a haze of self-sat­is­fied pan­ic. [all sic]

This excerpt comes from the sav­age­ly fun­ny, and total­ly bonkers, text of Grain’s “Mar­velous and Most Instruc­tive Infor­ma­tion Doc­u­ment: Includ­ing Utter­ly Con­fus­ing Com­ments and Asides”— oth­er­wise known as the con­tract rid­er, the spec­i­fi­ca­tions detail­ing the band’s require­ments. “When you’re as leg­endary as Iggy Pop,” writes Luka Osbourne at Enmore Audio, “you tend to get away with a lot.”

Grain’s rider—a hilar­i­ous write-up prone to pro­fane fugue states full of jar­ring non-sequiturs and riotous asides—pushes the genre as far as it can go. “If there was a Gram­my for ‘best con­tract rid­er,’ writes Bri­an Mack­ay at the Spring­field, Illi­nois State Jour­nal-Reg­is­ter, “Iggy and the Stooges would retire the cat­e­go­ry.” A note about a gui­tar rack sud­den­ly swerves into the fol­low­ing rever­ie:

Horse v Pan­da? I think the pan­da might just win it if he man­aged to get on the horse’s back and sink his teeth and claws into its neck. With­out get­ting kicked in the bol­locks, of course. Two hooves in a Pan­da’s gonads would prob­a­bly bring vic­to­ry to the horse, though I doubt it would cel­e­brate much. Hors­es arent big cham­pagne drinkers.
And fuck­ing Grand Prix dri­vers just squirt it all over each oth­er.

The requests get ridicu­lous­ly spe­cif­ic, but it’s still more or less stan­dard rock star stuff (noth­ing on the order of Van Halen’s “no brown M&M’s”) …or is it…? When we get down to the require­ments for Iggy’s dress­ing room, Grain asks for:

Some­body dressed as Bob Hope doing fan­tas­tic Bob Hope imper­son­ations and telling all those hilar­i­ous Bob Hope jokes about golf and Hol­ly­wood and Bing Cros­by. Oh God, I wish I’d been alive in those days, so that Bob Hope could have come and enter­tained me in some World War 2 hell-hole before I went off and got shot. What joy they must have expe­ri­enced…


Sev­en dwarves, dressed up as those dwarves out of that mar­velous Walt Dis­ney film about the woman who goes to sleep for a hun­dred years after bit­ing a poi­soned dwarf, or maybe after prick­ing her fin­ger on a rather sharp apple… or some­thing. What was the name of that film? Was it Cin­derel­la? Taller peo­ple are accept­able, of course. It’s atti­tude, more than height, that’s impor­tant here. Don’t for­get the pointy hats!

As for the band’s needs, oth­er ref­er­ences to pan­das come up. The bass play­er needs three Mar­shall VBA Bass Ampli­fiers. “Please make sure they’re good ones,” Grain writes, “or we’ll all end up as worm­like web-based life forms in the bass player’s online lit­er­ary dia­hor­rea. Hon­est­ly. He’s like a sort of inter­net Pepys or Boswell, except with­out the gout and the syphilis. For all I know.” The Stooges’ bass play­er, by the way, is punk leg­end Mike Watt, whose tour diaries real­ly are a species of lit­er­ary genius.

Some­times when I get down about the state of rock and roll, I remem­ber that Iggy Pop is still alive and run­ning around shirt­less onstage like a lunatic at 71. And I remem­ber this rid­er exists. Read the whole thing here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

An Ani­mat­ed Marc Maron Recalls Inter­view­ing a Shirt­less Iggy Pop in LA Garage

Prof. Iggy Pop Deliv­ers the BBC’s 2014 John Peel Lec­ture on “Free Music in a Cap­i­tal­ist Soci­ety”

Stream Iggy Pop’s Two-Hour Radio Trib­ute to David Bowie

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness.

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