Many of James Williamson’s colleagues—at Sony, where, until a few months ago, he was Vice President of Technology Standards, and at IEEE, where he serves as a member of the Standards Association Board of Governors and the Association's Corporate Advisory Group—didn’t know about the years he spent as a punk guitarist and member of The Stooges. His calm manner and even temper at standards meetings belied his previous reputation as one of the loudest and raunchiest punk rockers in the business.
Williamson co-wrote the songs and played guitar on the 1973 album, Raw Power, now considered a punk classic. He collaborated with Iggy Pop on the 1975 album Kill City, then turned to electrical engineering, getting his BSEE degree from California State Polytechnic University.
He did return to music briefly, contributing to Iggy Pop’s 1979 album New Values, then focused on his technical career.
But now, recently retired from Sony, he’s picking up the guitar again. Williamson, who hasn’t performed in front of a paying audience in 35 years, has reportedly started practicing for his musical comeback. The Stooges are currently booked to appear next year at the All Tomorrow’s Parties Festival in London, possibly the first stop on a tour.
No word yet as to whether IEEE members will be able to purchase concert tickets at a discount.
Tekla S. Perry is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Based in Palo Alto, Calif., she's been covering the people, companies, and technology that make Silicon Valley a special place for more than 40 years. An IEEE member, she holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Michigan State University.