Iggy Pop proclaims ‘I am a myth’ as he accepts Polar Music Prize

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Musician Iggy Pop, dubbed “the godfather of punk”, referred to himself as “neither great nor real” and added “I am a myth” as he accepted the prestigious Polar Music Prize.

Each year the award, often described as the Nobel Prize of music, celebrates two laureates, one contemporary and one classical, for significant achievements in music.

This year saw the American musician, 75, real name James Newell Osterberg Jr, honoured alongside Ensemble intercontemporain, a leading contemporary music ensemble based in Paris.

The 2022 laureates were presented with their prizes by His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden at a gala prize ceremony held in the Swedish capital of Stockholm.

The event, founded by late Abba manager Stig Anderson, marks its 30th anniversary this year as the first honour was handed to Sir Paul McCartney in 1992.

Sweden Polar Music Prize
Last year’s Polar Prize laureate, US songwriter Diane Warren receives her 2021 award (Jessica Gow/TT News Agency via AP/PA)

Pop, who found fame both as a solo artist and as frontman of The Stooges, described recognition as “a hard mistress”.

He added: “Ada Osterberg, a Swedish emigre to the US, adopted my father James. (Ada) was a Red Cross nurse and raised my dad during the great depression. These were great people. Real people.

“I am neither great nor real. At this point, I am a myth. Happily, music is a form of myth.

“All beauty derives from believing in myth. But every so often, you gotta get real… Like balls. That’s how I got here.

“So when you think about music, when you think about this prize, and if you remember me, think about the balls.”

Recipients receive prize money of one million Swedish Kroner (around £81,580).

Matthias Pintscher, musical director, and Olivier Leymarie, director general of Ensemble intercontemporain, said in a joint speech: “We would like to express our gratitude for receiving the Polar Music Prize and the recognition for our work and mission that comes with it.

“It is rare that a collective like ours is being awarded a prize of this highest prestige. It makes it extra special for us. We feel so honoured.

“To receive the Polar Music Prize, which has been awarded to some of the greatest musical icons, means to join a musical pantheon.

“The Ensemble is accepting this recognition with great joy, a recognition which is truly a reward, an honour that will encourage us to keep moving forward and continue to inspire other musical partners and creators all over the world.”

American songwriter Diane Warren was named the 2020 laureate and also attended the event to receive her prize.

She said: “I’ve always looked at my songs as a passport.

Iggy Pop receives his Polar Music Prize
Iggy Pop (right) receives his Polar Music Prize laureate award from Sweden’s King Carl Gustaf (Jessica Gow/TT News Agency via AP/PA)

“They have taken me, a kid from Van Nuys, California with the crazy dream of becoming a songwriter, to many places I could only imagine going to – to the voices of some of the greatest singers on the planet, to the hearts of people I will never know all over the world that my songs have touched in some way and somehow have become a part of the soundtracks of their lives, to the Academy Awards, to so many places I only fantasised of going to.

“To this night, to this country, to this prestigious award. I can’t believe my name is now among those great artists who have also received this honour.”

The ceremony and banquet took place at The Grand Hotel in Stockholm, with performers including Swedish singers Molly Sanden and Darin.

Previous recipients of the prize have included Bruce Springsteen, Bjork, Patti Smith, Bob Dylan and Metallica.

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