The Story Behind How Iggy Pop Nearly Turned Down a Grammy

In 2020, Iggy Pop received a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award, but he nearly refused the coveted honor.

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“The Grammys kept wanting to talk to me on the phone, and I kept telling my manager, ‘I don’t want to talk to them,'” said Pop about initially pushing back against talking to the Recording Academy when they first reached out about the award.

“I hate those people,” added Pop. “They want me to be an exhibit in their museum or something.'”

Inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with the Stooges in 2010, Pop also received the 2022 Polar Music Prize, joining previous recipients Paul McCartney, Elton John, Joni Mitchell, Led Zeppelin, Bruce Springsteen, and Björk. He said the Grammy recognition was “a tougher can of tuna to pry open” when he first learned about the honor.

“I said, ‘I’m not talking to them!'” said the 75-year-old punk pioneer when he was first approached by the institution. “It’s been, what? 50 years? No Grammy! But they said, ‘You won.’ And I said, ‘Well, is there anything I have to do? Is it contingent on anything?’ And they said, ‘No. It can never be changed.’ So I thought that was OK. That was nice.”

Eventually, Pop relented and heard the Recording Academy out. “When I finally spoke to the lady from the Grammys a couple of months later she said: ‘We’re giving you the Lifetime Achievement,'” remembered Pop. “‘Without you, there’s no Lil Nas X and there’s no Billie Eilish.'”

The Grammys changed Pop’s mind and told him that he was a “direct link to the artists” at the top of their awards list that year. “So that’s what one person had to say,” added Pop, “and I’ll take that for what it’s worth.”

Pop received the Lifetime Achievement Grammy in early 2020 alongside Roberta Flack, Chicago, John Prine, and Public Enemy.

“I suppose I kind of feel as if the Academy and I met halfway — something like that,” shared Pop. “It’s sort of like a problem has been eliminated, put it that way. These things have been happening in my career for the last 10 years or so.”

He added, “At first it was almost grim. Like, ‘Okay, I got there, I got that. It doesn’t make ‘Raw Power‘ any better or any worse.’ But after a while, I came to appreciate that every person has a point of view. It took me a long time to appreciate that a lot of people have points of view that are nothing like mine whatsoever, but I need to respect them. Whereas when I was 25, it was like, ‘Agree with me or death.’”

Pop released his 19th album, Every Loseron January 6. The project features the late Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins, along with Guns N’ Roses’ Duff McKagan, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Chad Smith, and guitarist Dave Navarro.

Photo: VALERY HACHE/AFP via Getty Images

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