Blondie drummer Clem Burke looked back at the “chaos” of touring as a member of Iggy Pop’s band in the 1980s and recalled a specific moment when the singer refused to stop a show despite having been told of a bomb threat.
In a recent interview with Spin, Burke said he was invited to take part in “one of the first national tours promoting [Pop] plus David Bowie on keyboards,” while Blondie was on hiatus. “Iggy had a mandate: Play as loud and as fast as possible,” the drummer explained. “Also, no food backstage, just drugs and alcohol. A sort of ‘No Blow, No Show’ kind of atmosphere.” As a result, he added, the band had to “go to restaurants and finally eat like crazy,” after performances. “Iggy would order three entrees and feast himself.”
He remembered Pop’s anger over Mick Jagger’s refusal to speak to him when they performed alongside the Rolling Stones in Detroit in 1981. “Iggy was wearing a miniskirt, suspenders, a leather jacket and boots. That was night one. Well, night two, he was in pantyhose and a leather motorcycle jacket. Basically naked from the waist down. And let me tell you, when the spotlights hit him, you could see it all!”
Burke noted that “one of the songs we did had the lyrics ‘you need more,’ and everyone took it as ‘more drugs, more champagne.’ And the next thing, people started throwing things at us – including knives. The bass player got a knife in his hand. Champagne bottles were flying through the air, and there was Iggy standing at the lip of the stage singing ‘give me more.’
“Another time we were in Austin, Texas … and there was a bomb scare. Someone onstage yelled we had to evacuate. But Iggy just didn’t. He insisted we went into a salute, and he kept saying, ‘We’re all going to die,’ and we were just not really telling people about it.”
Burke reflected, “With Iggy, it was always decadent rock ‘n’ roll – it feels different to me now. I haven’t done drugs for a long time, I am very health conscious. But the energy is still there, and we love being onstage. We are now avoiding the chaos as much as possible.”
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