While Low raced up the UK chart Bowie opted for anonymity in the spring of 1977 by playing keyboards on Iggy Pop's first tour since the demise of The Stooges. The set-list comprised a package of old Stooges favourites boosted by material from The Idiot and three new songs which would later appear on Lust For Life. In Britain Iggy was being widely hailed as the founding father of punk, and the Evening Standard soberly informed readers of his "bizarre stage appearances that have included antics like vomiting over a member of the audience, smashing his teeth out with a microphone and smashing a broken glass against his chest."
The band was completed by Low's guitarist Ricky Gardiner and two new arrivals. The Sales brothers, drummer Hunt and bassist Tony, were the sons of Texan stand-up comedian and Sinatra Rat-Pack acolyte Soupy Sales. Former members of Todd Rundgren's band, they would go on to play on Lust For Life and, a decade later, would feature in a more notorious attempt by David to seek anonymity within a democratic band structure.
MARCH 1st - APRIL 16th 1977
Iggy Pop: Vocals
David Bowie: Keyboards
Ricky Gardiner: Guitar
Tony Sales: Bass
Hunt Sales: Percussion
Raw Power | TV Eye | Dirt | 1969 | Turn Blue | Funtime | Gimme Danger | No Fun | Sister Midnight | I Need Somebody | Search And Destroy | I Wanna Be Your Dog | Tonight | Some Weird Sin | China Girl | 96 Tears | Gloria
"It was the first time I'd ever really put myself into a band since The Spiders," Bowie later said. "It was great not having the pressure of being the singer up front...Iggy would be preening himself before he went on and I'd be sitting there reading a book." Bowie was punctilious about not diverting press attention away from Iggy: as Sounds reported, "If you wanted David, you also got the band." On stage, he stayed behind his keyboard and barely looked at the audience. It was a generous and at the same time a canny manoeuvre; Bowie's presence undoubtedly helped Iggy to sell tickets, but at the same time it removed him from centre-stage at a time when any remotely mainstream artist was in danger of being rubbished by the cheerleaders of punk.
The tour opened at the Friars, Aylesbury, where Bowie had played some of the early Ziggy Stardust gigs five years earlier. After six British dates came an Atlantic crossing, on a schedule that left David no alternative but to conquer his fear of flying. Some of the American concerts were supported by up-and-coming new wave act Blondie. The Chicago performance on March 28th was played without a live audience at Mantra Studios for a radio broadcast, which later made its way onto various bootlegs and official releases. On April 15th, the penultimate night of the tour, the band appeared on The Dinah Shore Show to perform "Sister Midnight" and "Funtime". Contrary to popular myth, however, at no point did David duet with Iggy on Otis Redding's "That's How Strong My Love Is" or his own "Fame" (both songs were featured on Iggy's subsequent Bowie-less Lust For Life tour, and the inaccurate claims of bootleggers gave rise to the misconception that David was involved).
Although both David and Iggy had come a long way since the self-destructive excesses of their last stay in America, the wolf was still at the door: "There were too many drugs around at the time," said Bowie in 1993. "I was going through these really ambivalent things because I kept wanting to leave the tour to keep off the drugs. The drug use was unbelievable and I knew it was killing me, so that was the difficult side of it. But the playing was fun."
Iggy Pop resumed touring in the autumn of 1977 after completing work on Lust For Life. On this second tour the Sales brothers were accompanied by Stacey Heydon (formerly of Bowie's Station To Station tour band), while ex-Stooges keyboard player Scott Thurston took the place of David, who was now immersed in promotional duties for "Heroes". Numerous Iggy Pop releases feature recordings from the 1977 tour.