Archive 12: The passing of Ron Asheton

 

2.9..09:Great poster for A2 tribute to Ron Asheton Feb 28 at the Blind Pig.

A2 Ron Asheton tribute show

Thanks Steve Morgan of Powertrane!

 


2.9..09:  LOVE magazine premiere

Katie Grand of Pop magazine’s pet project with Conde Nast, LOVE, is debuting this month with London Fashion Week. The biannual art meets fashion mag will showcase three covers for its first issue modeled by Agyness Deyn, Iris Strubegger and Iggy Pop with his hands down his pants. Picture is featured on the ront page of iggypop.org.

Video of the week: Ron Asheton: "Ronnie...Thanks a Million" Tribute with Terry Bradley on
Bagpipes

"A fitting tribute party for Ron Asheton guitarist for The Stooges was held at the historic Music Hall in downtown Detroit. Rolling Stone magazine ranked him as the 29th greatest guitarist of all time. Close friends all mention his great sense of humor but his influence on other guitar players cannot be overstated.Ron's playing was exceptional just as the man was off stage. We will miss you Ron. RIP"

Exerpts from the tribute show on the video of the week page:

Ron Asheton Tribute - Bootsey X - No Fun
Ron Asheton Tribute - Hiawatha Bailey -  I Wanna Be Your Dog, Down on the Street
R.I.P. Ron Asheton Tribute - TV interview from 2008

I-94 Bar's coverage of the event, with photos by John Holstrum of Punk Magazine -- including a great shot of the digital Music Hall marquee

 

 

 

1.30.09: Ron Asheton's Rolling Stone obituary by Iggy Pop, February 3rd 2009 issue (.pdf file) Thank you Steve B!

 

Mojo's Jan. 28 issue out now with feature on Ron Asheton

RON ASHETON: The Stooges’ guitarist, who died earlier this month, was a man whose monolithic, fuzzed-up tones ricocheted through the last forty years of music influencing generations of players in the process. But few knew the man behind the sound. Paul Trynka looks back on Ron Asheston’s life. Iggy Pop, J Mascis and James Williamson pay tribute.

http://cover.mojo4music.com/Item.aspx?pageNo=1796&year=2009

 

 

1.21.09: A message from Kathy and Scott Asheton

“We would like to thank everyone for the tremendous outpouring of sympathy and support that we have received.  The knowledge that Ron's kindness and music touched so many people around the world, has been a great comfort to us at this very difficult time.

  We loved our big brother very much and we will miss him deeply. Our lives will never be the same. His spirit will continue through a foundation we plan to set up in his name.

  Thank you Henry McGroggan and Cathy Benson Burke for putting together all of the condolence emails into a special book for us. Reading these messages has helped to heal the pain in our hearts.


Thank you all so much for your prayers and thoughts.
Love,
Kathy and Scott Asheton”

 

 

1.21.09: At the Crawdaddy! magazine site, this week's feature story is a tribute to Ron Asheton. Check it out here: http://crawdaddy.wolfgangsvault.com/Article/Ron-Asheton-Today-We-Mourn-a-Stooge.html 

ULRICH STUNNED THE STOOGES OVERLOOKED FOR HALL OF FAME
2009-01-15 02:45:04
pr-inside.com

METALLICA drummer LARS ULRICH is thrilled with the band's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but shocked fellow nominees, punk icons THE STOOGES were overlooked The Enter Sandman hitmakers will be honoured with the prestigious musical tribute at the 2009 induction ceremony in April (09). They will be inducted alongside by English rocker Jeff Beck, hip-hop veterans Run-D.M.C., American singer/song-writer Bobby Womack and R&B group Little Anthony & the Imperials - but Ulrich insists he's holding out for Iggy Pop and his bandmates to get the honour. He says, "It surprised me. I thought The Stooges would be a shoe in. Hopefully another year." Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation President & CEO Joel Peresman adds, "There's never a closed door."

2008 inductee list here.

 

 

1.20.09:
January 20, 2009

Scott (Morgan )on the passing of close friend Ron Asheton:

The first time I saw Ron was opening day at Forsythe Junior High School. He was just in from Davenport, Iowa. That's close to where my father grew up.

When we both decided we were going to be musicians, come hell or high water, that's when we got to know each other better. Everyone thought they had the top card, but in realty it was all just a friendly game of cans (which was a game we used to play with Dave Alexander in the breezeway of Dave's house, throwing empty beer cans in the trash.)

I don't think Ron's loss really hit me at first. I had just spent a quiet evening at his home on Christmas Eve. It was an annual tradition and very pleasant. We would have a holiday spread and a few small sips of his favorite whisky.

Ron loved his cats and even called me from London when he was worried about them. I admired him so much for taking care of Larry Fine in the actors' home. I think we're all in the Three Stooges fan club. We're coming to you're house to break up the joint.

As I've said before I believe Ron, Fred Smith and me were the first to use what I call a five chord. There is no third in it. Well, when we play 1969, Down on the Street, and I Wanna Be Your Dog, I believe the vibrations go straight to the Ashetons' basement.

Powertrane will host a memorial show for Ron:

SAT 02/28/2009 09:30 PM - THE BLIND PIG
208 SOUTH FIRST STREET
ANN ARBOR, Michigan 48104
Description:POWERTRANE HOSTS A TRIBUTE TO RON ASHETON. PROCEEDS TO THE HUMANE SOCIETY. SPECIAL GUESTS TO BE ANNOUNCED. www.blindpigmusic.com 734 996 8555

 

 

 

1.19.09: Hundreds bid Stooges guitarist farewell
Legend was 'what punk rock was all about'

BY BILL McGRAW • MOTOR CITY JOURNAL • January 19, 2009
http://www.freep.com/


One of the best moments of the memorial tribute for Stooges' guitarist Ron Asheton at the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday night came after several punkish bands had taken the stage and kicked out raw, driving numbers, including Stooges' tunes.

Out on the stage marched Terry Bradley with a set of bagpipes. He wore a plaid kilt and official bagpiper's uniform, and he stood ramrod straight as he piped "MacCrimmon's Lament," a mournful tune whose droning notes filled the auditorium and silenced the partying crowd.

As Bradley piped, video clips projected on the stage's rear wall showed Asheton playing in local bands like Destroy All Monsters and Dark Carnival. One clip showed a man wagging his tongue.

"One of Ron's last wishes was to be piped to the afterlife," Bradley said.

That sometimes strange mélange of images and sounds captured the anarchistic nature of the high-spirited tribute to Asheton, who was found dead of natural causes in his Ann Arbor home Jan. 6. He was 60.

The snowy night and a huge crowd for a monster truck show at nearby Ford Field delayed the arrival of some audience members, who drifted in throughout the evening, many with a drink or two in hand. By the end of the two-hour program, there were more than 200 people in attendance.

"This is one of those situations that Ronnie would have found hysterical," said the emcee, Colonel Galaxy, a local music scene figure. "A blizzard and monster trucks."

Rick Manore, one of the organizers, chuckled at the unrehearsed nature of the evening.

"It's punk rock. It's got to be loose," he said.

While Asheton was not a household name, he was highly influential in the world of rock and cofounded the legendary Stooges in 1967 in Ann Arbor with his brother Scott and Iggy Pop, who did not appear on stage Saturday night.

Led by the writhing, nihilistic Iggy, the Stooges became one of the most important bands to emerge from southeast Michigan. Unlike the hyperkinetic Iggy on stage, Asheton remained relatively still when playing, dressed like an average Joe. He never blew critics away with his virtuosity.

Yet Rolling Stone magazine named Asheton the 29th greatest guitarist of all time. When Asheton died, the Guardian newspaper of London said in an obituary that his "aggressive and elemental guitar playing" was responsible for much of the Stooges' jarring sound.

On Saturday night, musicians and speakers honored Asheton's memory as a pioneer who showed the way for a couple of generations of guitarists.

"Ron Asheton, in my opinion, was what punk rock was all about," said John Holmstrom, editor and founder of the New York-based Punk magazine. "For every punk band I covered in the 1970s, the Stooges were the No. 1 influence."

Ricky Rat, a guitarist for Bootsey X and the Lovemasters, who performed at the tribute, recalled when he first heard the Stooges' "I Wanna Be Your Dog."

"You couldn't compare it to anything. Millions of people in the world could play the guitar to 'I Wanna Be Your Dog,' but no one could play it quite like him," he said. "He was just as unique as Jimi Hendrix."

One speaker, Mike Quatro, a well-known Detroit impresario in the 1960s and '70s, noted Iggy, despite his headliner status, was not necessarily the Stooges' boss.

"I remember Ron as the leader," Quatro said. "He signed all the contracts."

At one point, Colonel Galaxy invited audience members to come to the stage and speak. The first taker said he had gone to high school with Asheton, and proceeded to tell a disjointed story that involved Asheton, the State Fairgrounds, Milky the Clown and a chimpanzee.

As the audience hooted and organizers gently tried to convince the man his story was over, he blurted out a nonsensical punch line: "The place got robbed and they wouldn't pay him!"

The next audience member, Gary Jones, an actor who splits his time between Los Angeles and Michigan, talked of how Asheton had acted in a handful of B movies over the past couple of decades, including the 1995 feature "Mosquito," about bugs that feed on the corpses of passengers of an alien spacecraft that lands in a U.S. National Park. Asheton played Hendricks the park ranger.

"He was a really good actor," Jones said. "He would take a long time to get his lines perfect."

Offstage, Jones recalled getting a phone call from Asheton when "Mosquito" was showing on the Sci-Fi Channel.

"He would say, 'I'm watching myself on TV, and I'm looking pretty damn good.' "

Contact BILL McGRAW at bmcgraw@freepress.com.

 

 

 

1.16.09: Info update reguarding Easy Action UK's next release coming soon.

Zeit1 to release "Lust For Life" DVD Feb 10th

Zeit1 have announced the February 10th release of Iggy Pop's "Lust For Life." This DVD was filmed in 1986 when Pop was enjoying a successful period with the release of the Blah Blah Blah album and the hit single Real Wild Child. The film captures Pop on the tour and away from the stage for a series of interviews that cover his career up to that moment in time.

Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton is also interviewed and like Pop goes into detail concerning The Stooges and their perception of why the band split. Filled with exclusive interview and archive footage, some of which has never been seen. This film paints a full picture of one of rock music's enduring talents. Order here from MVD Entertainmenr group.


Lust For Life DVD

 

 

Private memorial held for Stooges' guitarist Ron Asheton

by Roger LeLievre | The Ann Arbor News
Thursday January 15, 2009, 4:00 PM

A private memorial service attended by family members and close friends of the late Stooges' guitarist Ron Asheton was held Tuesday at Muehlig's Funeral Chapel in Ann Arbor.

Among those attending were Stooges' frontman Iggy Pop; Ron Asheton's brother and Stooges' drummer Scott Asheton; bassist Mike Watt; and saxophonist Steve MacKay, as well as two members of The Stooges' management team.

"Each of us just got up and said a few words. After, we all went to Weber's and had a real nice dinner," said Scott Morgan, a fellow musician and long-time friend of Asheton's. "It was pretty much local except for the band and the band people. There were a lot of close friends, people who always came to Ron's on Christmas Eve."

Asheton was found dead in his Ann Arbor home by police officers on Jan. 6. The cause of death has not been determined, pending completion of toxicology tests that are expected to take nearly a month.

Asheton was a founding member of The Stooges, which formed in Ann Arbor in the 1960s and went on to pioneer the musical style of punk rock, influencing generations of rock musicians. He was ranked at No. 29 on Rolling Stone's list of 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.

Morgan said Pop and other band members gave no indication about the future of The Stooges without Asheton.

"They are still in shock," he said.

A tribute to Asheton will be held Saturday night at the Music Hall for the Performing Arts in downtown Detroit. A local Stooges tribute is planned for late February at the Blind Pig, with details to come, Morgan said.

Family members have asked that donations in memory of Asheton be made to his favorite charity, the Humane Society of Huron Valley. Contributions can be made online at www.hshv.org (click the "Donations" link, and scroll down to the Memorial Honorarium option). Those wishing to donate should list "Ron Asheton" in the "Honoree Name" part of the electronic form.

Meanwhile, The Stooges were again snubbed by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Wednesday. The band has been on the hall's nomination ballot seven times since the mid-1990s, including this year, but has yet to win enough votes to get in.

Roger LeLievre can be reached at 734-994-6848 or by e-mail at rlelievre@annarbornews.com.

 

 

 1.15.09: Due to a large number of questions regarding Ron Asheton’s funeral and possibility of paying respects, please be advised that a private memorial service for Ron Asheton attended by family members and his closest friends was held on January 13th in Ann Arbor. It is the wish of Ron’s Family that in the event anyone wants to honor Ron, donations should be made to his favourite charity - Humane Society (full info www.hshv.org)

There are many ways to make a Memorial donation to the Humane Society of Huron Valley in honor of Ron Asheton. Memorial donations can be made through mail, on the website, or over the phone by dialing Jaci Nicols directly at 734-661-3525. If mailing in a memorial donation, please use the attached form HSHV Memorial & Honor Form and mail or fax to the following:

Humane Society of Huron Valley
3100 Cherry Hill Road
Ann Arbor, MI 48105
Fax: (734) 662-0749

Donations can also be made online by using the Memorial option on the HSHV website. Please use the following link:
HSHV Memorial Donation

Those making contributions should list Ron Asheton in the “Honoree Name” section of the electronic form. If the donor would like to notification of the donation sent to a family member or friend of Ron Asheton, they just need to complete the “Notify Someone of Your Gift” Section. They can be notified by email or handwritten card through mail.

 

 

1.14.09: Iggy Pop's first interview after Ron Asheton's death with Deminsky and Doyle on Detroit's Classic Rock 94.7 WCSX, listen here.

 

Detroit Metro Times'  Jan. 14 cover story on Ron: James Wiliamson,  John Holstrom, Steve Jones, Tommy Ramone, Alice Cooper, Robert Matheu, Angie Bowie, Mike Watt, Chris Wujek (and more) here.  Thanks again I-94 Bar.

 

Iggy: ‘Ron Asheton is eternal’
Mojo magazine
2:43 PM GMT 14/01/2009

Iggy: ‘Ron Asheton is eternal’

IGGY POP HAS CONTACTED MOJO to reflect on the life and times of fallen Stooges’ guitarist Ron Asheton, whose death, at the age of 60, was confirmed on January 6.

Speaking to MOJO’s Editor-In-Chief Phil Alexander, the frontman admitted to being overwhelmed by Asheton’s tragic passing.

“It did seem as though he’d always be here,” agreed Iggy on the subject of Ron’s glowering presence. “Although this person was very fragile and I knew it, there was something eternal about him. He also had an eternal guitar style. It wasn’t really American muscle rock. It wasn’t R&B. It was so unique, they had to come up with a different way of describing it.”

Iggy also reflected on his 45-year relationship with Asheton, recalling his desire to form a band with him in the pre-Stooges days.

“I was a big, big fan of his even before he picked up the guitar,” commented Iggy. “I’d seen him play bass and I’d watched the way his fingers moved. He had that scuzzy, slightly ill/sensitive, unencumbered-by-musculature look that all good musicians should have. I thought, This guy would not look or sound out of place in the Stones, Kinks or Pretty Things. This guy’s got something that’s beyond just a local cover band.”

During the course of an hour-long conversation, Iggy also confirmed that he, Ron and drummer Scott Asheton had plans to record a follow-up to 2007’s The Weirdness for which material had already been written.

Iggy’s full tribute to Ron Asheton appears in the next issue of MOJO on sale on January 28.

Phil Alexander

 

Musical memorial planned for the Stooges' Asheton
Susan Whitall / The Detroit News Article click here.

Ron Asheton of the Stooges will be honored in a gathering of his friends dubbed "Ronnie ...Thanks a Million: An Elegant Farewell to a Beloved Friend" to be held at 9 p.m. Saturday at the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts.

For more information on the Ron Asheton tribute, go to www.myspace.com/niagaradetroit. There will be a cash bar in the Hall as well as in the Jazz Café. The Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts is at 350 Madison in Detroit. Call (313) 887-8500 or go to www.musichall.org

 

Rock Hall picks Run-DMC, Metallica, leaves out Iggy Pop
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
By Scott Mervis, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The 2009 class of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees may be just as notable for who is left out than who is going in.

In are rap pioneers Run-DMC, metal kings Metallica, guitarist Jeff Beck, soul singer Bobby Womack and doo-wop group Little Anthony and the Imperials.

Shunned once again are Iggy Pop and the Stooges, the band generally regarded as the prototype for the punk movement. The timing of the announcement is unfortunate coming a week after Stooges' guitarist Ron Asheton was found dead in Ann Arbor, Mich., at the age of 60.

Along with the five new members, rockabilly singer Wanda Jackson is inducted in the early influence category, and the sidemen inductees are session musician Spooner Oldham and two of Elvis Presley's musicians -- drummer D.J. Fontana and bassist Bill Black.

The induction ceremony will be held in Cleveland on April 4.

Last year, Madonna made a plea for Iggy and the Stooges by having them perform at the ceremony, and the year before that Patti Smith and Michael Stipe performed the Stooges' song "I Wanna Be Your Dog."

First published on January 14, 2009 at 3:33 pm

 

 

1.11.09: Thanks to all who sent condolences to Ron's family and the band. They were complied and professionally bound and are on the way to Ann Arbor with Henry Mc Groggan, Iggy's lontgime road manager and Stooges' representative. I would never have been able to do this without the help of the Stooges' representative Ania Marzec, sincere thanks. I did not mention Mike Watt or the crew --  who make the Stooges shows possible  --  in my hasty request for codolences, but many of the letters I received rightly did: Jos Grain, Eric Fischer, Rik Hart and Chris Wujek

The global press coverage, personal memories, castinand obituaries continue. Tribute pages are appearing already. Here's the latest.

 

Sky TV's "From the Basement" will be rebroadcasting their Dec. 17 show featuring Iggy Pop and the Stooges. Times TBA, check here.

 

RON ASHETON TRIBUTE NIGHT
Niagara and Colonel Galaxy invite friends to pay tribute to the late Stooges guitarist, Ron Asheton as they host, “Ronnie…Thanks A Million”, Saturday, January 17th at 9PM at the historic Music Hall Center For The Performing Arts in downtown Detroit.  read more posted by our friend the Barman's website, the I-94 Bar.
He has also started a Ron Ashton tribute page here.

 

TOP 5: Musicians influenced by Ron Asheton

Friday, January 9, 2009
THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The rock world lost an unsung hero this week with the death at age 60 of Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton. Born in the District, Mr. Asheton had a brutalist style of riffing that created a template for punk rock, as connoisseurs of the genre universally acknowledge. Here are five of the man's musical legatees.

Johnny Ramone - The Ramones formed out of mutual love for the same music; they were the only four guys in Queens who liked the Stooges and the New York Dolls, the late Dee Dee Ramone said. Guitarist Johnny Ramone, in particular, studiously replicated Mr. Asheton's fierce rhythm-guitar attack.

Steve Jones - The Stooges, never big record sellers, had secret admirers on the other side of the Atlantic, too, including the riffmeister of the Sex Pistols. At a 1978 concert that would be their last for decades, the U.K. punks concluded with a cover of the Stooges' "No Fun."

Thurston Moore- For the Sonic Youth noise-punk pioneer, the Stooges "were the perfect embodiment of what music should be." Mr. Moore collaborated with Mr. Asheton on the soundtrack of the 1998 movie "Velvet Goldmine." During the project, he said he appreciated anew "that Asheton swing ... the way he rocked the chord grooves."

Kurt Cobain - The late Nirvana founder once called Stooges frontman Iggy Pop "my total idol." The outsize persona may have belonged to Iggy Pop, but the grinding power chords were Mr. Asheton's.

Jack White - Steeped in blues and classic British rockers such as Led Zeppelin, Detroit's Mr. White was equally inspired by the tonal primitivism and theatricality of hometown heroes the Stooges. Mr. White has cited the band's second LP, 1970's "Fun House," as the greatest rock album ever.

 

Pop & Hiss
The L.A. Times music blog
The Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton found dead at 60

12:20 PM PT, Jan 6 2009

 

Stooges_5

Ron Asheton, whose abrasive and scorching electric guitar work behind singer Iggy Pop in Michigan punk band the Stooges established a model of raw emotion for a succeeding generation of punk, grunge and alternative rockers, has died in Ann Arbor. He was 60.

Ann Arbor police Sgt. Brad Hill says there were no signs of foul play, and Asheton appeared to have died from natural causes. His body was discovered after his personal assistant had been unable to reach him. Police said it appeared he had been dead for several days. Autopsy results are pending.

“That first Stooges album and the second one had a big influence on me,” Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones said Tuesday. “The Stooges albums and the New York Dolls were my blueprint for how to play guitar.”

The Stooges charted a short but influential career from the time the band formed in 1967 until it disbanded seven years later. Like New York’s Velvet Underground, the Stooges had minimal commercial success, but the act's recordings and explosive live performances, during which Pop was known to cut himself, vomit and even defecate on stage, put primal emotion front and center, paving the way for a whole new strain of rock music.

"We really did open up the gate,” Pop said last year, “and through that gate came rats, scorpions and all sorts of things."

Ron and his drummer brother Scott Asheton reunited with Pop in 2003, with bassist Mike Watt from the Minutemen and Firehose taking over for the Stooges original bassist Dave Alexander, who died in 1975.

The Stooges’ reunion performance at the 2003 Coachella Valley Arts & Music Festival in Indio became one of the highlights of the event, and last year they released their first album in 24 years, “The Weirdness.”

“In many ways Ron was the heart of the Stooges, and the Stooges were the creators of punk rock,” Paul Trynka, author of the 2007 biography “Iggy Pop: Open Up and Bleed, said Tuesday. “If you don’t understand Ron, you don’t understand the Stooges, and if you don’t understand the Stooges, you don’t understand punk rock.”

Asheton, who was born in Washington D.C. and went to Ann Arbor High School with Pop, then using his given name Jim Osterberg, had played in a variety of bands between his stints with the Stooges, none of them capturing significant attention.

"I've always had a band, not to much success, but I've always kept my hand in,” Ron Asheton said in an interview last summer. “And it's great to have people say 'I never thought I'd get to see the Stooges.' "

-Randy Lewis

 

Stooges guitarist was a punk inspiration

Lynne Saxberg,  Canwest News Service (nationalpost.com, Canada)
Published: Thursday, January 08, 2009

Ron Asheton at a New York City performance by Iggy Pop and the Stooges in 2003.Matthew Peyton, Getty Images For Virgin Records

Hours after the Stooges' guitarist Ron Asheton was found dead in his Ann Arbor, Mich., home on Tuesday, a message went up on Iggy Pop's website, iggypop.org: "I am in shock," the singer is quoted as saying. "He was my best friend."

Asheton's death comes at the start of a year in which the Stooges have another shot at being inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. The quintessential Detroit garage band is one of nine acts on the 2009 Hall of Fame ballot, their sixth nomination. The successful candidates are expected to be announced this month.

If the voting goes their way, it would be a triumph for a band often maligned for Pop's vulgar antics. The wiry front-man was known for performing smeared in blood or peanut butter, or exposing himself onstage.

In the 1960s, Pop originally envisioned the Stooges playing a mutated form of blues. He recruited Asheton, his drum-bashing brother, Scott, and bassist Dave Alexander to round out the lineup. The late, legendary rock critic Lester Bangs, an early supporter, wrote that they formed the band before they actually knew how to play.

"None of them have been playing their instruments for more than two or three years, but that's good," Bangs wrote in a 1970 review of the Stooges' seminal FunHouse album. "Now they won't have to unlearn any of the stuff which ruins so many other promising young musicians: flash blues, folk-pickin', Wes Montgomery-style jazz, etc. F---that, said Asheton and Alexander, we can't play it anyway, so why bother trying to learn?"

Though often overshadowed by Pop's behaviour, Asheton's greasy, over-amplified guitar work stuck out like a sore thumb in the psychedelic climate of the late 1960s. His electric guitar was a defining feature of the band's first two albums, but Pop forced Asheton to switch to bass on the third, Raw Power.

None of the albums sold well, and the Stooges broke up in 1974, with Pop spiralling into heroin addiction. Asheton went on to other pursuits, including forming his own short-lived band, The New Order, and acting in a series of low-budget horror films.

Ronald Frank Asheton was born in Ann Arbor on July 17, 1948. In Michael Dean's 2002 indie documentary, D. I. Y. or Die: How to Survive as an Independent Artist, Asheton tells how he caught the performing bug after a family visit to an amusement park. Because he knew the words to the Davey Crockett theme song, a park minstrel invited a young Asheton to sing with him. Life was never the same, Asheton recalled.

"I remember lying in bed at 10 or 12, going 'I don't want to go to college, I don't want to get a job, I don't want to have family, I don't want kids. I just can't do that.' Even then I knew I didn't want to do that. I was always worried about what would happen, how it would come to be that I wouldn't have to be a normal person," he said.

Over the years, it became clear that Asheton's playing with the Stooges was well ahead of its time. The list of acts who drew from his influence includes such heavy hitters as the Sex Pistols, the Ramones, Nirvana and the White Stripes. He's considered one of the architects of punk rock.

In 2003, Rolling Stone named Asheton the 29th greatest guitarist of all time. The same year, the Stooges reunited with a drug-free Pop and played a series of concerts, finding a new generation of Stooges fans hungry for the music. The band even wrote and recorded a new album, The Weirdness, which came out in 2007. Having a decent crop of new tunes, coupled with the newfound respect of fans, meant the band's prospects were brighter than ever.

In a message on the band's website, members recalled Asheton as a great friend, brother and musician, describing him as "irreplaceable."

"For all that knew him, behind the facade of Mr. Cool & Quirky was a kind-hearted, genuine, warm person who always believed that people meant well even if they did not," the band's statement said. "As a musician, Ron was The Guitar God, idol to follow and inspire others. That is how he will be remembered by people who had the great pleasure to work with him, learn from him and share good and bad times with him.

 

 

Stooges Guitarist Ron Asheton Found Dead In Michigan Home
Cause of death is still unknown for guitarist, who founded Stooges with Iggy Pop in 1967.
By James Montgomery, mtv.com
Jan 6 2009 11:46 AM EST

Ron Asheton, an original member of influential proto-punks the Stooges, was found dead in his Ann Arbor, Michigan, home early Tuesday morning (January 6). He was 60 years old.

According to The Ann Arbor News, Asheton's personal assistant contacted police late Monday after being unable to reach him for days. When officers arrived at Asheton's home, they found his body on a living-room couch. He appeared to have been dead for at least several days. Detectives told the newspaper that the cause of death is undetermined, but that investigators do not suspect foul play. Autopsy and toxicology results are pending.

Asheton played guitar and bass in the Stooges, which he formed in Ann Arbor in 1967 with frontman Iggy Pop, Ron's brother Scott on drums and bassist Dave Alexander. Asheton's signature skuzzy riffs can be heard on such classic tracks as "I Wanna Be Your Dog" and "Down the Street," from the Stooges' first two albums (1969's self-titled debut and 1970's Fun House). He switched to bass for the band's third album, Raw Power, in 1973, after Alexander was fired from the group.

Though none of the Stooges' three albums could have even charitably been considered commercial successes when they were first released, they are today considered touchstones of raw, sludgy rock, hugely influential on the punk, metal and alternative genres that would break through to the mainstream in the decades that followed. And the band's frantic, primitive live shows — which sometimes featured Pop cutting himself with shards of glass and diving headfirst into the audience — toed the line between performance art and out-and-out brutality, setting the guidelines for the mosh-pit heroics of basically every hard-rock act of the past 30 years.

After Power, Asheton left the Stooges and played in a series of bands, including the New Order and Destroy All Monsters. In 2003, he reunited with his brother Scott and bassist Mike Watt to play on Pop's solo album, Skull Ring. That same year, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him at number 29 on their 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time list.

In 2005, the Stooges reunited — with Watt once again on bass — to play a series of U.K. festival gigs. Then in 2007, they released their first album of new material in nearly 35 years, The Weirdness. They promoted the album with a lengthy tour, including raucous stops at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin and Lollapalooza in Chicago.

In September, the Stooges were nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, alongside acts like Run-DMC and Metallica. Inductees will be announced later this month.

 

1.8.09: January 8, 2009
Ron Asheton, Guitarist in the Stooges, Dies at 60
The New York Times
By BEN RATLIFF

Ron Asheton, a guitarist of the Michigan proto-punk band the Stooges, and the guiding hand of some of the most simple, satisfying and copied riffs in rock ’n’ roll, including “TV Eye,” “Down on the Street” and “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” was found dead on Tuesday at his home in Ann Arbor, Mich. He was 60.

Police officers found his body after a friend alerted them that Mr. Asheton had not been seen for several days, said the Stooges’ publicist, Angelica Cob-Baehler. A coroner’s report from the Washtenaw County Medical Examiner’s office was not yet available; Sgt. Brad Hill of the Ann Arbor police department said that foul play was not suspected.

Mr. Asheton, whose friendly if sardonic personality seemed the opposite of his loud and dirty guitar playing, lived in the house he had originally moved to with his family in 1963, and where the Stooges had their first basement rehearsals.

Three high school friends in Ann Arbor — Mr. Asheton; his drummer brother, Scott; and the singer James Osterberg, who later changed his name to Iggy Pop — formed the nucleus of what was first called the Psychedelic Stooges. Influenced by free jazz, garage rock and Chicago blues, the Stooges’ first two albums — “The Stooges” and “Fun House” — are the best showcase of Mr. Asheton’s sound: two- or three-chord riffs with an open, droning, low E string and solos filtered through distortion and wah-wah pedals.

After the high point of “Fun House,” things became more complicated. The bassist, Dave Alexander, was fired, and the band was dropped by its label, Elektra. Iggy Pop, individually, was signed by David Bowie’s production company, MainMan. A new guitarist and songwriter, James Williamson, joined the group. On “Raw Power,” the band’s final studio album, Mr. Asheton was demoted to playing bass.

The Stooges lasted from 1967 to 1974. Having progressed from a noisy, anarchic joke to a great, confrontational rock band and back to a joke, the members were broke and addicted to heroin, except for Mr. Asheton, who increasingly took responsibility for holding the band together from day to day.

 

 1.8.09: Obituary

Ron Asheton
Guitarist with the Stooges, his playing helped set the stage for punk rock

Dave Laing, The Guardian, Thursday 8 January 2009

In their early 1970s heyday, the Stooges were one of punk rock's archetypal bands, creating music that was to inspire and influence several generations of younger groups in America and Britain. Most attention was focused on the charismatic lead singer, Iggy Pop, but the band's sound owed just as much to the aggressive and elemental guitar playing of Ron Asheton, who has died aged 60. Paying tribute to Asheton, Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols said that the early Stooges albums had provided him with a blueprint for playing guitar.

Asheton was born in Washington DC but moved to the college town of Ann Arbor, Michigan, as a child. He and his younger brother, Scott, attended Pioneer high school there and soon became involved in the town's thriving rock music scene. At 17, he became the bass player with local groups the Prime Movers and the Chosen Few, and met James Osterberg, who had recently adopted the stage name Iggy Pop.

Pop soon left in search of a career as a blues drummer in Chicago, but according to Asheton, he abandoned this goal in 1967 and called him to suggest they form a band along with Scott, who by then was a promising drummer. With the addition of bass player Dave Alexander, the trio formed the Psychedelic Stooges, playing their first gig at a Halloween party.

Shortening their name to the Stooges, they were championed by Detroit rock magazine Creem and were given a recording contract with an advance of $25,000 by Elektra Records, which had recently signed another local band, the MC5. John Cale of the Velvet Underground produced the eponymous debut album, which accurately reflected the group's live sound on songs such as No Fun, Down on the Street and I Wanna Be Your Dog, a track that one critic said had "given birth to 50,000 bands".

The album was critically acclaimed but sold poorly, as did the next album, Fun House. The Stooges were inactive for a large part of 1971 and 1972 as Pop recovered from drug addiction. They re-formed, partly at the insistence of David Bowie, whose manager Tony de Fries undertook to find them a new record contract. With the addition of guitarist James Williamson, the Stooges played their first show outside America at the King's Cross cinema (now the Scala) in London and recorded a new album. Asheton reverted to playing bass, with Williamson taking the lead guitar role on Raw Power, which was produced by Bowie and issued in 1973.

Like its predecessors, Raw Power was a commercial failure, and in 1974 the Stooges disbanded. While Pop teamed up with Bowie and followed a solo career, Asheton formed the group Destroy All Monsters with former MC5 member Michael Davis. His later groups included the New Order and Dark Carnival.

In the 1980s and 90s, Asheton had little financial reward from his music, claiming in an interview that he often played for only $15 a night. Rolling Stone magazine rated him the 29th most important guitarist in popular music - describing him as "the Detroit punk who made the Stooges' music reek like a puddle of week-old biker sweat" - and he enjoyed the growing recognition of his influential place in the punk pantheon, especially in Europe. He told an interviewer in 2007: "It's great to be able to play in front of an audience that knows the lyrics to your songs."

His career began to revive in 1998 when he contributed music to Velvet Goldmine, a film celebrating the glam rock era. Two years later he, his brother and the bass player Mike Watt - replacing Alexander, who died in 1975 - recreated the original Stooges sound in a series of concerts.

Pop attended one show and suggested a Stooges reunion. The first shows were staged in 2003, after which the Stooges recorded a new album, The Weirdness - which, like the earlier albums, did not sell well - and toured several times, memorably performing at the 2007 Glastonbury festival.

Asheton's body was found at his Ann Arbor home. The cause of death was unknown, but unconfirmed reports said he had been dead for several days.

He is survived by Scott.

• Ronald Franklin Asheton Jr, guitarist, born 17 July 1948; died 6 January 2009

 

Mike Watt riffs on Ron Asheton and the Stooges
LA Timess Music Blog

02:27 PM PT, Jan 7 2009

 

Watt_asheton500

Mike Watt, bassist for punk groups the Minutemen and Firehose, was invited in 2003 by Iggy Pop to join the Stooges when the seminal Michigan band reunited for its first performance in nearly 30 years at the Coachella Valley Arts & Music Festival. He continued to perform and record as a Stooge for the next 5 1/2 years alongside founding members Ron Asheton, the guitarist who was found dead this week at age 60; his brother, drummer Scott Asheton; and saxophonist Steve Mackay. Watt spoke Tuesday to The Times' Randy Lewis about being in the band with Ron Asheton. What follows is Watt's remembrance of his close friend and colleague.

As a musician, he was a pioneer -- very singular, very unique. To get to be onstage with him was incredible for me. We all looked up to Ronnie with that guitar sound. Man, it was a sound, but especially in those days in the early '70s. Most people at my high school, they didn't like that sound. They were like, "You like them?" We took a lot of [flak] for liking them in a way.

Then the punk scene comes, and the Stooges was the common ground. That scene, which was not very popular here in Southern California, was just all these different weirdos from different places. The one thing in common was the Stooges. It was kind of anti-arena rock -- more like Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard than what was happening in the '70s. I can't even imagine our scene without that band.

And then I get to play with these cats. So much stuff comes third-, fourth- and fifth-hand, but I got to go right to the source. I was born in '57, so I was 10 years behind them. I'd never been in the little brother role before, but especially being around these guys, my ears grew to the size of elephants' and became like sponges -- I just wanted to absorb everything.

In 1997, I got to make an album with him in a group called the Wylde Rattz, which had a song on the soundtrack for "Velvet Goldmine." We did a whole album, but then London Records folded and it never came out. The song came out in the movie, but that's when I actually got to spend a bunch of time with him in the studio.

In 2000, J Mascis [of Dinosaur Jr.] asked me to go out on tour with him -- after I almost died from an infection and used Stooges songs to get strong again -- and sing some Stooges songs with him in a project called J Mascis -- the Fog. When we got to Ann Arbor, he says, "You know Ronnie, right?" I called him and he came down to jam and then ended up touring with us.

He'd come to see me in my band, whenever I was in Ann Arbor. Ronnie was up on stuff because he was in a bunch of bands: Dark Carnival, Destroy All Monsters. After the thing with J and later with Scotty as Asheton, Asheton, Mascis and Watt, this is when Ig called him and his brother to do a few songs for "Skull Ring" [Pop's 2003 solo album].

I was on tour at the time in Tallahassee, Fla., and I get this call. It's Ig, and he says, "Ronnie says you're the man." He said, "They're gonna get the Stooges back together for Coachella. Can you wear a T-shirt? I know you like those flannels." I said, "How about Levi's and Converse?"

It was a mind blow. Them songs had been living in my head for all those years, so I would just stand there onstage and stare at them. I had to struggle to keep focused because I was just like one of the gig-goers, but I've got this bass on.

I felt deep in my heart I owed these guys the best notes I could ever play. Still, when I think about it, it seems impossible that life had put me in this situation. I would think of D. Boon [the Minuteman singer-guitarist who died in 1985] just up there laughing. "I'm playing with the Stooges!" and he'd say "Shut . . . up!"

On the last tour, Ig gave me a 16-bar bass solo in "Little Electric Chair." I played with D. Boon and he would get all trebly and chicken-pluck and leave all this room for me, and I'd play a lot of stuff up high on the neck. It sounded really lame, but then Ronnie helped me construct a solo down in the low end one day on tour in Slovakia and that fit really well. The Stooges taught me about being a bass player when it was time to record "The Weirdness" album. Ig said, "Mike, I want you to get in touch with your stupid side."

I just feel so indebted to them, as musicians and as people too. They were so kind to me. They knew about a lot of stuff. Maybe because of the name the Stooges people didn't know that, but Ronnie was a lot about history, Scotty about nature, Iggy about culture, Steve Mackay about politics. And they listened a lot too.

They told me they got "Little Doll" from Pharoah Sanders. "Fun House" is actually their take on James Brown. Ig said, " 'Shake Appeal,' that's me doing Little Richard." All these trippy things, as though they invented this whole thing -- and they did, their way, but they also were in touch with a lot of the stuff that happened before them.

I'm going to get more intense with my work, my music. That's what I was thinking when I paddled out today. I went in the kayak after somebody told me they found him. I'm in San Pedro Harbor and I'm always running or kayaking.

This is going to push me with music ever more. It's a shame it takes something like this to do that, but I know all the playing with him has rubbed off on me big time.

I loved being his bass player.

STEPPING INTO HISTORY: Bassist Mike Watt, left, jams onstage with Stooges band mate Ron Asheton in 2004. Credit: Peter Whitfield.

 

IN APPRECIATION

Ron Asheton: The godfather of punk guitar

By Greg Kot, Tribune critic
chicagotribune.com
January 7, 2009
(thanks Mud from Chicago)

The godfather of punk guitar, Ron Asheton of the Stooges, was found dead Tuesday in his Ann Arbor, Mich., home.

Asheton, 60, had not been heard from for a few days, and the guitarist's personal assistant called police to Asheton's home to check on him. An investigation continues, but police do not suspect foul play.

The Stooges emerged in 1967 out of Ann Arbor with Iggy Pop (a.k.a. Jim Osterberg) on vocals, Asheton on guitar and his younger brother, Scott Asheton, on drums. Dave Alexander played bass. The band fused experimental techniques, including the use of amplified oil drums and blenders as percussion devices, with Pop's charismatic stage presence and Ron Asheton's driving guitar to create a dynamic, divisive new sound. The quartet was never commercially successful, but its live shows achieved legendary status, and their first three studio albums—"The Stooges" (1969), "Fun House" (1970) and the David Bowie-produced "Raw Power" (1973)—are now regarded as blueprints for punk, post-punk and alternative rock.

Asheton and the rest of the band came from blue-collar families. He played accordion as a child but picked up the guitar at age 10 and was playing in bar bands around Michigan when he formed the Stooges with Pop while still a teenager.

"We were outsiders in this college town," Asheton recalled in a 2007 Tribune interview. "The frat boys would throw cans at us when we were walking down the street—way before we even got onstage people were throwing stuff at us. We would go into restaurants and not be served because of the way we looked. [Pop and the Asheton brothers] were like the real 'Three Stooges,' hence I came up with the name 'Stooges,' and we just added acid, so at first we were the Psychedelic Stooges."

The band reveled in free-form concerts and never formally wrote songs until it was signed to a record deal and went into the studio in 1969 with Velvet Underground founder John Cale to make its first album.

"We go in, and we start to record, and we're used to playing how we like to play, which is through a Marshall stack set on '10,' and the engineer says, 'Fellas, you don't do that,' " Asheton said. "So we had a little sit-down strike where we actually did go into the vocal booth and sat on the floor. Then Iggy brokered a compromise. We could set the amps on '9.' So we turned down a little bit. After that it was fine."

That album produced classic songs such as "I Wanna Be Your Dog" and "No Fun." A 1970 follow-up, "Fun House," was named after the Stooges' hangout in Ann Arbor and added free jazz solos inspired by John Coltrane and a funkier beat borrowed from James Brown.

"You take a little of the truth from everyone and mix it with a little bit of your blood, and it comes out with your music," Asheton said.

His iconic riffs were the basis for many of the band's best-loved songs. He played in a simplified style that cut against the grain of the guitar-god era, when long blues-based solos were the standard by which musicians were judged. Yet a few years ago he was ranked among the top guitar players of all time in a Rolling Stone magazine poll.

"Everyone thinks it's really simple: 'Hey, it's three chords. I can do that,' " Asheton once said with a laugh. "It's not true. A song like 'TV Eye' sounds simple, but it's that groove, and I've never seen anybody else hit it. Even with Iggy when I've seen him in his bands as a solo artist, he does Stooges songs, it's not the same."

The feeling was apparently mutual. After the band broke up acrimoniously in the mid-'70s, Pop went on to a long solo career. But he sought out the Ashetons a few years ago and reformed the Stooges, with Mike Watt taking over on bass for the late Alexander.

The punk-era bands kept the Stooges' legacy alive, and when the original trio started playing reunion concerts with Watt in 2003 they were hailed as icons. In 2006 they came to Chicago to record a fourth studio album, "The Weirdness," with Steve Albini engineering. The next year, the band played a triumphant show in Grant Park at Lollapalooza, joined by hundreds of fans dancing madly on stage while Pop exhorted them and Asheton hammered out chords that had become a permanent part of punk's DNA.

The guitarist was thrilled by the response, a dramatic turnaround from the reaction the band usually received in its first incarnation.

"We'd go to places like the Boston Tea Party where we opened for Ten Years After, and we finished our first two songs, and there's like four people applauding in the whole club, and that's our fan club president and her vice president, secretary, whatever," he said. "And everybody else is booing. That was part of the fun. To get any reaction that strong out of somebody was cool. But now it really is great to go and play and have the crowd know the songs, totally love it, enjoy it. It feels like we're being vindicated."

greg@gregkot.com

 


1.7.09:
Ron Asheton July 17, 1948 - January 6, 2009

 

Such sad news to start the new year, the death of Iggy and the Stooges' guitarist, Ron Asheton, found deceased by Ann Arbor police in his house Jan 6th. His longtime personal assistant, Dara Hytinen let them in with her key, after contacting them, concerned that no one had heard from him in a few days. It is now thought that he died of natural causes, autopsy results pending toxicology reports. See the official statement on the front page of this site.

I ditched work today, I am not ready for prime time. I couldn't bring myself to do much more than post the official statement yesterday and read mail about all of this. My site had more visitors than it ever has, far surpassing even the Stooges reunion. I'll gather all the press about this sad event today, the breadth of which is truly astounding. The autopsy won't be final until the toxicology reports come in. I will forward any info about funeral services -- to what extent they will be public -- here and if you want to send letters of condolence I will forward them to management.

Condolence letters to Scott, Kathy and Iggy will be printed out Saturday and taken to Michigan Sunday by Henry McGroggan, their representative and hand delivered. Send them here.

 

Cathy Benson Burke, iggypop.org
cbensonburke@hotmail.com

 

 

Stooges' guitarist Ron Asheton found dead in his Ann Arbor home

Posted by Art Aisner | The Ann Arbor News January 06, 2009 08:28AM

Famed rock-and-roll guitarist and longtime Ann Arbor resident Ronald "Ron" Asheton was found dead in his home on the city's west side this morning, police said.

Asheton, 60, was an original member of The Stooges, a garage-rock band headlined by Iggy Pop and formed in Ann Arbor in 1967.

Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton was found dead early today in his Ann Arbor home.
His personal assistant contacted police late Monday night after being unable to reach Asheton for days, Detective Bill Stanford said. Officers went to the home on Highlake Avenue at around midnight and discovered Asheton's body on a living-room couch. He appeared to have been dead for at least several days, Stanford said.

Detective Sgt. Jim Stephenson said the cause of death is undetermined but investigators do not suspect foul play. Autopsy and toxicology results are pending.

Asheton was born in Washington, D.C. His brother, Scott, who lives in Florida, is the band's drummer. In 2007, The Stooges reunited and released "The Weirdness," their first album in three decades.

RELATED STORIES

Local music community mourns Asheton

The 2007 interview with Stooges' guitarist Ron Asheton of Ann Arbor

Asked how it felt to be back with The Stooges, Asheton told The News in an interview that year that it was "great to be back on the road."

The Stooges were part of a 1960s music scene in Ann Arbor that included such bands as the MC5, Bob Seger, Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, and The Rationals.

Art Aisner can be reached at aaisner@annarbornews.com or by phone at 734-994-6823.

 

 

Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton found dead
The Stooges Guitarist's body undiscovered at home 'for several days' say police
Jan 6, 2009
NME.com

Ron Asheton, the guitarist and bassist with The Stooges, has been found dead today (January 6). He was 60.

Asheton was found at his home in Ann Arbor this morning, according to police.

A cause of death is yet to be confirmed, although initial reports suggest that Asheton died of a heart attack.

Detective Sgt Jim Stephenson told local paper Ann Arbor News that foul play is not suspected. He added that Asheton's body was found on a living-room sofa, and that he appeared to have been dead for at least several days.

Autopsy and toxicology results are pending.

Asheton was a founder member of The Stooges, along with his brother (and drummer) Scott Asheton, Dave Alexander (bass) and frontman Iggy Pop.

Ranked as Number 29 on Rolling Stone's '100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time', Asheton played the seminal riffs on Stooges' classics including 'No Fun', 'Down On The Street', and 'I Wanna Be Your Dog'. He switched to the bass guitar for The Stooges third album, 'Raw Power' (1973).

After the commercial failure of 'Raw Power', Asheton left The Stooges and played in a series of bands including The New Order (not to be confused with the UK band of the same name), and Destroy All Monsters.

He later recorded a number of tracks for 1998's cinematic paean to glam rock, 'Velvet Goldmine', along with Mudhoney's Mark Arm, The Minutemen's Mike Watt, Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore and Steve Shelley.

In 2000, Asheton, along with his brother Scott and the aforementioned Mike Watt, began playing shows together. The band were dubbed 'The New Stooges' by fans, and after Iggy Pop saw them perform, the four decided to reform The Stooges properly.

The Stooges played their first reunited show in 2003, and went on to release an album of new material ('The Weirdness') in 2007, with Asheton restored to lead guitar duties.

Touring heavily, including a The Stooges played a memorable set at the 2007 Glastonbury Festival which ended with a mass stage invasion, they also played last year's Isle Of Wight Festival.

We've picked out Asheton's five greatest riffs on the NME Office Blog.

You can also view our photo tribute to Asheton at NME.COM/PHOTOS.

 

 

Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton found dead in Ann Arbor home

January 6, 2009
BY STEVE BYRNE AND BRIAN McCOLLUM
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITERS

The world didn’t always give Ron Asheton his proper dues. But the Stooges guitarist certainly paid his dues to the world, helping transform the sound of rock music.

Fans and fellow musicians are mourning the death of Asheton, who was found dead early Tuesday at his home in Ann Arbor. The death remains under investigation, though foul play is not suspected, said Ann Arbor Police Sgt. Brad Hill.

Asheton was 60.

 

“I am in shock,” said Stooges singer Iggy Pop. “He was my best friend.”

RELATED: Musicians share memories of and tributes

Ann Arbor police had taken a call from a friend of Asheton, who said he had not heard from the guitarist in a few days. Police entered Asheton’s home and found his body.

As a musician, Asheton was no technical virtuoso, and his career never brought him a glittery celebrity life. But his electric guitar work, which was the starting point for most of the Stooges’ songwriting, was widely influential within hard rock and punk music.

With his brother Scott Asheton on drums and local wild kid Iggy Pop on vocals, Asheton cofounded the Stooges in his parents’ Ann Arbor basement in 1967. The raucous group went on to become an area sensation, making its name at venues such as Detroit’s Grande Ballroom.

The Stooges, who reunited earlier this decade, are widely recognized as one of the most important rock acts to have emerged from the Detroit scene. The group found little commercial or critical success during its initial run with Elektra Records. But by the time the Stooges disintegrated in the early ’70s amid infighting and drugs, its primal sound — with Asheton’s droning, guttural riffs at the core — had helped etch the template for punk rock. The band’s body of work later proved hugely influential during the alternative-rock revolution of the 1990s.

Early Stooges classics such as “I Wanna Be Your Dog” were cited by guitarists as varied as Kurt Cobain, Thurston Moore and fellow Michigan rocker Jack White — who once called the Stooges’ 1969 album “Fun House” the greatest rock album ever. In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine named Asheton the 29th greatest rock guitarist of all time.

He made the “Stooges’ music reek like a puddle of week-old biker sweat,” the magazine wrote. “He favored black leather and German iron crosses onstage, and he never let not really knowing how to play get in the way of a big, ugly feedback solo.”

Asheton’s post-Stooges career in the 1970s included stints with the bands the New Order and Destroy All Monsters, where he played with members of the MC5. His real comeback came in 2003, when the Stooges reunited for a series of shows and wound up as a regular touring act. In 2007 the group released “The Weirdness,” its first new album in three decades.

In a statement issued Tuesday, the surviving Stooges paid homage to a “great friend, brother, musician, trooper.”

“For all that knew him behind the facade of Mr. Cool & Quirky, he was a kindhearted, genuine, warm person who always believed that people meant well even if they did not,” read the statement.

The Stooges’ future is now unclear, though a single word in the band’s tribute statement — “irreplaceable” — provides a possible hint.

Von Bondies guitarist Jason Stollsteimer, 30, is among a younger generation of rock musicians who soaked up Asheton’s influence.

“To me, he was the epitome of raw punk,” said Stollsteimer. “He wasn’t flashy or over the top. It was raw. The riffs he wrote stood the test of time.”

Stollsteimer’s band opened for the Stooges at a 2003 homecoming show at DTE Energy Music Theatre. It was a triumphant reunion that brought the Stooges a level of attention and respect they hadn’t previously enjoyed.

“He was like a kid in a candy store, just so excited,” Stollsteimer recalled of that night. “He wasn’t afraid to show it. Some people are too cool, but he was obviously very happy and proud.”

The Stooges have been regular nominees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the past decade, but have yet to triumph in the final round of voting. Amid a growing outcry about the band’s rejection, many music insiders expect this to be the band’s year. The 2009 inductees list will likely be released later this month.

In a 2003 interview with the Free Press, Asheton said he got great satisfaction from the recognition the Stooges had begun to receive — even if it was a long time coming.

“When I was a young guy coming up, going to the Grande Ballroom every weekend, I got to see my heroes play. Jeff Beck, the Who, everyone. I didn’t want to be a fanboy, but I’d stand there and wait — ‘I just want to say hi, this was great.’ I saw them walk by me with blank stares like they were zombies. I said to myself, you know, if I ever make it, I’ve got at least one minute for everybody who wants to say something. So I talk to people, and that’s what’s exciting now.”

Staff Writer Lateshia Dowell contributed to this report.

 

 

Ron Asheton: 1948-2009

Gigwise remembers the legendary Stooges guitarist...

  • byJamie Bowman
  • Wednesday, January 07, 2009
  • Photo by: wenn
Ron Asheton: 1948-2009

“We invented some instruments that we used that first show. We had a blender with a little bit of water in it and put a mike right down onto it and just turned it on. We played that for like 15 minutes before we went on stage. It was a great sound, especially going through the PA all cranked up. Then we had a washboard with contact mikes and Iggy would put on golf shoes and kind of shuffle around.”
Ron Asheton of the Stooges in 'Please Kill Me'.

In a week where the UK’s TV viewers have been treated to Iggy Pop’s shameful selling of insurance, the news of fellow Stooge Ron Asheton’s tragic death comes as a further, yet far more upsetting occurrence for those who hold the Stooges as a totem of all that is pure, simple and true in rock n roll.

Asheton who has died of a suspected heart attack aged 60, was a founder member of The Stooges. A man of simple pleasures who loved playing the accordion and obsessed about the Beatles, he nevertheless created a a blistering guitar sound that came to define and mirror punk attitude 10 years before his snotty English disciples sold it to the world.

Emerging from Detroit, their early shows supporting the MC5 created a perfect storm of primitive rebellion it’s hard to even imagine these days. Signing to Elektra Records in 1968, their John Cale produced debut still stands as one of the  20th Century’s truly wonderful works of art. Decamping to New York in June 1969, they recorded the songs from their seven month old live set. Recording took two days.

If you want to know all about Ron Asheton try digesting this: in that one night between sessions Ron came up with the riffs for two additional new songs Not Right and Real Cool Time. A day later and the perfect album was hatched: angry, fucked up, sexy as hell, today it still burns with a fire that few bands have even imagined in their widest dreams. This album will brand itself onto your soul and kick your ass down the stairs. Believe.

Asheton’s sullen, malevolent wah-wah underpins the whole thing with a devilish menace and slabs of noise like 1969, I Wanna Be Your Dog and No Fun are now rightly seen as standards. Check out the bit during the stuttering clatter of No Fun when Iggy cajoles Asheton to let rip with a yelped “C’mon Ron!...C’mon Ronnie” and Asheton spits out a molten spurt of fuzz so ugly it’ll knock you sideways. Beautiful.

1970’s Fun House saw the Stooges further animate both mind and body with an album so loose it seemed to mix James Brown’s tight pants funk with the Stones low slung sleaze to create a whole new synapse in your brain – one where normal human tasks became constricting chains and paranoia was the place to be. Smeared all over it like radioactive slime was Asheton’s stratocaster. Ron’s guitar playing here and throughout the entire album is like none other on record. You’d be hard-pressed to find any semblance of comparison with any other guitarist who preceded him. There really is no guitarist like Ron Asheton, and never will be again, ever. On Fun House, Ron laid down the solos in real time, overdubbing the rhythms afterwards!

Perhaps true believer Lester Bangs summed it up best “The Stooges carry a strong element of sickness in their music, a crazed quaking uncertainty and errant foolishness that effectively mirrors the absurdity and desperation of the times, but I believe that they also carry a strong element of cure, of post-derangement sanity."

It was Ron that gave them this “crazed, quaking uncertainty”. Iggy meanwhile described him as “basically a thug”.

Rest in Noise brother Ron