Ron Asheton, R.I.P.


One of the great guitar-grinders of all time is gone: Ron Asheton of the Stooges is dead at age 60, found in his Ann Arbor home. Asheton has more than fair claim to space on top of that most crowded of pedestals, the one where we stand up and honor the "father(s) of punk rock."

Ron and his brother Scotty on the drums, with Mr. James "Iggy Stooge/Pop" Osterberg writhing and howling up front, were not only seminal in the draggy/thumpy/crunchy/fuzzy evocations of emotional and sonic charged ennui and fuck-all mayhem; they were, more important than being early to the game, still and always really, really great at it.

The classic Stooges line-up only made two albums back in 1969 and 1970 (though 1973's Raw Power, when guitarist Asheton was shifted to bass, is also a stone classic). The Ashetons and Iggy reunited as the Stooges with Minuteman Mike Watt on bass this century, and I'm very glad I got to be right up front at one of their 21st century reunion shows, watching the very un-rock n' roll looking Mr. Asheton bring his quiet, maybe even almost a little bored looking, sense of a working man doing a precise and important job as his fingers summoned the fuzzy violence that buoyed up the more colorful Iggy as he danced with the spirits and drew the crowds attention and energy and ferocity, all the qualities being stirred and shaped by that chubby old guy over to Iggy's left whose name they might not have known. He was Ron Asheton, and we're all lucky to have had him.