Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Stooges Guitarist Ron Asheton Dead at 60
Stooges Guitarist Ron Asheton Dead At 60
The Stooges' Ron Asheton (left)
January 06, 2009 ET
Gary Graff, Detroit and Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.
Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton was found dead this morning (Jan. 6) at his home in Ann Arbor, Mich., according to local police. He was 60.
Ann Arbor Detective Bill Stanford tells Billboard.com that police were called to Asheton's house early this morning by Dara Hytinen, his personal assistant, who had not been able to reach him for several days.
Hytinen let officers into the house with her key and Asheton's body was found in his bedroom. Stanford said he "looked fairly peaceful" and that there was no sign of foul play or drug use. Asheton, who had likely been dead since New Year's Eve or New Year's Day, had high blood pressure but no other major medical problems.
Asheton's body was taken to the University of Michigan medical center, where an autopsy was to be conducted this afternoon. Stanford said a cause of death likely won't be determined until toxicology reports are complete, which should take about a month.
Asheton and his drummer brother Scott formed the Stooges with Iggy Pop in Ann Arbor in 1967. Amid a music scene that also reared acts like Bob Seger and the MC5, the Stooges stood out for their reckless abandon, theatrics and pummeling style, a clear precursor for punk and alternative rock.
Asheton's riffs were at the heart of classic Stooges tracks such as "No Fun" and "TV Eye." And while albums such as "Fun House" and "Raw Power" would later be viewed as some of the most influential of the era, the band never enjoyed commercial success at the time, eventually splitting up in 1974. Pop then embarked on a solo career.
"No one ever said, hey, I quit," Ron Asheton said during a 2007 South by Southwest panel devoted to the Stooges' legacy. "It was just like, I need a break. It was a long break, but we needed a break." Seeing Pop play Stooges songs as a solo artist was no easy pill to swallow, but Asheton acknowledged, "It's show business and it's a wicked animal. You take the offers you get and see what happens."
Asheton also fondly discussed making whole grain waffles for his bandmates when they lived at the Fun House in Ann Arbor, where watching an old black-and-white TV and smoking pot were day-long activities. "We were foodies early on," Pop said. "I made the salad everyday," Asheton added.
After nearly three decades of inactivity, the Stooges reunited in 2003 to play the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in Indio, Calif., and toured frequently in recent years.
With Mike Watt filling in on bass for the late Dave Alexander, the group also returned to the studio in 2006 to record a new album, "The Weirdness," released the following year by Virgin. "The one thing that kind of amazes me is that it sounds like us," Pop told Billboard of the album at the time. "You put it on, and right away, you'd know, well, that's them. There they go."
The Stooges had just completed a European tour last month.
The Stooges Live in Cincinnati circa 1970: