Interview with Philippe Mogane, photographer and owner of a record label, Les Inrocks 2
, Iggy & the Stooges special, 2007. How did you approach Iggy Pop?
I began in the USA with a photo of Nico in 1970, that got published in Rock&Folk thanks to Yves Adrien. In 1971 and 1972, I was in New York, but Iggy wasn’t. At that time, I shot Mott the Hoople and I knew the band was managed by Tony DeFries, also manager of David Bowie, who was in charge of the production of Raw Power, which allowed me to reach the band. I finally located them in 1973.
James Williamson had quit : he hadn’t liked Bowie’s mix for Raw Power
, finding it too sweetened, too commercial. I then lived in San Francisco and found them in Los Angeles, in a building on Sunset Boulevard, next a tiny hotel. The building didn’t belong to Ray Manzarek, contrary to what might have been said. The building was horseshoe-shaped, with a pony French look, and in a wing was Ron Asheton with a whole gang, notably Dennis Thompson, drummer for the MC5, the singer Jimmy Recca… and in another wing Iggy and James, given that Ron and Iggy didn’t speak to each other anymore. And given that Iggy spent most of his time shooting dope. James welcomed me in a suit, in their almost empty apartment, with only to armchairs and a coffee table, while Iggy slept, whenever it was. Which didn’t help for a photo session… I beset them for months and months! I was constantly going from one wing to the other, and I think I can say I helped cooling down the tension between the two camps. Where did that tension come from?
According to James, it was based on a huge misunderstanding. When he left for England with Iggy and the DeFries team to record Raw Power
, they looked for musicians through the whole English scene and both came to the same conclusion: the only way was to bring buddies, the Asheton brothers. So Ron’s place as a bassist would have been totally natural. But Ron was the Stooges’ guitarist before and thought James had done everything to supplant him; which explains that atmosphere when they went to Los Angeles after Raw Power. How did you first meeting with Iggy go?
Well, so James welcomed me everyday – I had settled down to the hotel next door, which had a terrace with a swimming-pool where I used to spend my afternoons. According to the theoretical schedule James held – Iggy being stoned out all along -, I played the game cause I wanted James to get used to me… to such a point that one day, as he had just finished Hunter S Thompson’s Las Vegas Parano
, he gave me the book, saying “See, this is the story of your life!
”. I hastened to read it and realized James had understood what kind of a character I was. Some connivance had been created, which never was questioned.
One day, Iggy left his room around 2 pm; he had just woken up, he as smiling (which was unusual), dressed in green pajamas bottoms, bare feet… When I saw he was smiling, I decided to take him out for a photo session. I went into his room – it was dark and I saw a blonde figure lying on the bed. I caught sight of the top of his US sailor suit and a pair of glasses. I grabbed those things to dress Iggy with and dragged him off to the street like a kid. He was laughing, I brought him to my hotel and we did a shoot on the terrace, a shoot he kindly lent himself to. How did the session take place?
I had worked in Paris for Yves Saint-Laurent during two years in the beginning of the 70’s, before the invasion of the American culture, the photographers and models who would revamp the whole business thanks to their levity and creativity. We still worked in a controlled, polished, precise atmosphere, with no move… Since I did things that looked insane at that time, like photographing a dog walking in front of a model, or a girl seen from the ground level, I quickly abandoned that stuff because the fashion house didn’t like it much… So I directed that session with Iggy like a fashion shooting with him posing very straight, in a punk Vogue way! It was a turning point in our relationship. Since that moment, he called me Crazy Frenchy, all the more because he had never seen someone so tenacious! And the pictures got immediately published in Europe. What were your relationships like from that moment?
The next month, and till 1975, I did more photo sessions. I settled down in Los Angeles in 1975, I kept in touch with James who often came to my house. Until 1977, those are great years because I was clear-sighted and I had managed to enter the society of great American photographers. Around 1974, Iggy got through a bad patch and was committed to a mental institution – he was depressive. And it was all over until a session, years later, with Iggy, Ron and Jimmy Recca, photos that got published but without my name being mentioned. I was almost the only one who could take those opportunities, so it’s hard not to give me credit for those, all the more that those are all Mogane-style pics! Then in 1979, James called me at the time the band was reuniting for New Values, for which I did all the inner-sleeve photos. And why have you created a record label?
In 1976, James brought me some tapes, and a single listen was enough for me to realize those were extraordinary. It was Raw Power
as it should have sounded. When you listen to the original I Got A Right
, you can imagine Raw Power
in that same vein: there would have been another music style. One can not despise Raw Power
, but the sound is perceptively sweetened compared to I Got A Right
, the perfect punk anthem, the cry all the youngsters in the world needed. I managed to find money, to create with James the Siamese Records label (which became Siamese Dogs records in 2000), clean the tapes to do a master then a mother because it was vinyl. Siamese was the name Iggy and James had in mind if they had created their record company. The visual was done in two minutes at the factory.
The first pressing of the I Got A Right/Gimme Some Skin
single arrived by packs of 1,000 at a price of 77cents the piece and I sold them at 99cents, which caused an incredible loss of money – even if 25,000 copies of the single got sold, reaching the east cost, France… My biggest pride was when the Ramones played in Los Angeles in 1978 and Joey told me the single had left his mark on the New-York scene and galvanized it. Afterwards, the record got bootlegged by everyone, even by so-called friends…
Thanks to I Got A Right
, James got some reputation, he sold other tapes, which made him money, allowing him to go to school. That’s why I often said I financed his studies! James gave me the production bug. I left the photo business in 1993 to work at it (production). As for James, he has worked for ten years for Sony Hardware as a technician, he got married and has two children, he lives near San Francisco. Have you seen Iggy again afterwards?
In 1993, at the time of American Caesar
: he said “I didn’t know you were a photographer
”! Art Collins, his manager until 2005, helped him reaching the top. Even if it was good until Blah-Blah-Blah
– particularly at the moment he was backed by the brothers Hunt and Tony Sales -, he never got back to the genius of the Stooges. When The Idiot was released, I had told him “You can only be good with the Stooges
”. The next years proved I was right, with that new album that puts a great end to his career: he finally started back from where he had stopped at the time.
Included are two pics :
That one was too big for my scanner, sor a little part is missing.
I found that interview rather complicated, a little confused. However I also thought it could be interesting... a 1975 photo session with Iggy, Ron and Jimmy Recca?