Sad News from Ann Arbor Michigan today, Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton has passed away at age 60. More info from Radio Exile here.
(The reunited Stooges L-R Mike Watt, Iggy, Ron Ashton, Scott Ashton)
Ron Asheton won’t go down in history as the best guitar player ever but he may be one of the most influential. Ashton’s raw, feedback drenched guitar sound on the first two Stooges records helped create the template for what later became punk rock. As some of you know The Stooges 1970 album Funhouse is one of my favorite records ever. I wrote something about it for another site, the fabulous Aquarium Drunkard, a while back that went like this:
Calling From The Funhouse
By 1970 Los Angeles was holding a wake for the hippie era, it had been found wounded on the side of the freeway, bleeding from a knife wound to the heart delivered by the Manson Family. All of the incense and sitar music in the city couldn’t nurse peace and love back to health, it was over. While the kids in LA mourned, five guys who called themselves The Stooges arrived from Ann Arbor Michigan, not to praise the time gone by, but to bury it. The funeral had been crashed.
Over the course of a week of summer nights the original Stooges lineup, Iggy, Ron and Scott Asheton and Dave Alexander were joined by hometown pal Steve McKay on saxophone to record what would become Fun House the second and last real Stooges album (Raw Power is a good record but not a Stooges record).
The purpose of the sessions was to capture the intensity and spirit of a live Stooges show on record. Producer Don Gallucci (who by the way played keyboards on the Kingsmen’s Louie, Louie) instructed the band to just show up once it got dark out and just play. All tracks were recorded live in studio with no overdubs or tricks until they came up with the seven songs that wound up on the album. What the band created over a handful of nights was a blast of primitive punk rock aimed straight at the heart of the rock and roll establishment. Fun House is the sound of the 60’s being dragged, kicking and screaming off the stage.
Don’t take my word for it though, here’s a clip from Funhouse:
For more about Ron Asheton, The Stooges and a whole lot more check out Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk Rock.
Update: The Detroit Free Press has got the story up too.
Update 2: I originally called this post “Jesus Loves the Stooges” (a nod to an old Bomp Records release of some Stooges material).