R.I.P. Ron Asheton of the Stooges
Ron Asheton, the Stooges guitarist whose buzz-saw riffs on the band's first two albums helped lay the foundations for punk rock, died of an apparent heart attack Tuesday morning. He was 60.
It's a pretty shocking loss. Asheton has been on the road with Iggy Pop and the reunited Stooges for the past few years, thrilling audiences with powerhouse versions of classics such as "T.V. Eye," "Loose" and "I Wanna Be Your Dog." With Iggy running around like a madman on stage, it was easy to lose track of Asheton; but even if the only muscles he moved were the ones in his hands, it was his crushing power chords and blazing solos that made those songs take off.
The band's set at Virgin Mobile Festival over the summer was certainly one of the highlights of the weekend. And talking to Asheton prior to the festival was pretty exciting, too. He told entertaining stories about Iggy, Dylan, Miles and the band's legendary sessions for "Fun House."
But what stuck with me most was when he was talking about the band's possibilities of getting inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Here's what he said:
So is covering Madonna the closest you'll get to being in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or do you think you'll get the nod soon?
Well, to tell you the truth, it would be cool to be in there with all our heroes and people that got us into music. The Beatles were the ones who changed my life, the Beatles and the Stones, to make this life choice ... I know this, though. If we don't get it next year, we don't go in, we're not going in. I mean, what is it, five-time losers? I mean, if we don't make it this time ... And you know what? It won't break my heart. As everyone else says, it's not going to better your career. It'd be nice, but I'm not going to be heartbroken. And we kind of wear it as a badge of honor that we've been turned down.
And the thing is, the Stooges were totally going in this year. I mean, look who they are up against. It's an overdue honor, even if the original version of the band recorded only two albums that were largely overlooked at the time. "The Stooges" (1969) and especially "Fun House" (1970) featured a swirling mess of primal noise that set the stage for most good rock music that has come since then. That small body of work (Asheton switched to bass for 1973's far inferior "Raw Power") was enough to get Asheton the No. 29 spot on Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time list in 2003 and it should have got him enshrined in the Hall by now.
Below is the Stooges playing "No Fun" in their native Detroit.
The Stooges - "No Fun"
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