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Unfortunately tragedy has struck the rock and roll community yet again. Earlier this week Ron Asheton, guitarist for the Stooges was found dead in his home, apparently from a heart attack at age 60.
I don't even know where to begin with just how much this news effects me. When I first started listening to the Stooges it was the massively fuzzy and rough guitar work of Asheton that immediately struck me and changed not only the way I looked at what made music "heavy"... but also how I approached and played guitar myself. That played a big part in why back when I first started the Soul of Rock 'n' Roll site, the Stooges were one of the first bands I wanted to pay tribute to... to raise awareness of just much of an imprint Ron, brother Scott (drums), Dave Alexander (bass) and the infamous Iggy Pop, left on rock and roll.
Although a lot of time has passed since since I wrote that piece and I could probably rewrite it with new insights, examples and feelings, I believe that the core of the article is still 100% true: that the Stooges are one of the best bands in rock and roll history. You can read that piece here: Overlooked and Over Simplified; Why The Stooges are Rock & Roll Cultural Icons.
The first three Stooges albums are classic works, must haves for any fans of the proto punk or hard rock movement and easily some of the best rock albums of all time in my opinion. Asheton's guitar tone was a big part of what made the Stooges the band they are and those albums so great. Gritty and raw, driving and powerful, psychedelic and experimental all at once... he provided the perfect vehicle for Iggy Pop's on stage aggression and persona. It's hard to imagine what the Stooges or later bands like the White Stripes, the Black Keys and even Black Sabbath would be like without Asheton's unique guitar tone and style. Other players might have been technically more proficient, but Asheton had energy... raw, primal, visceral energy. He truly played like no other, like a live wire directly to the most primal of human emotions.
A couple of years ago the Stooges returned to stages and showed why they still rocked harder than most of the younger bands around. I couldn't think of too much of a better tribute to the force that was Ron Asheton and the Stooges than the sight of the band on tour again 2007, almost inciting a riot during "No Fun" at the end of their shows. No band can compare to the Stooges in terms of unbridled power.
On this sad day I'd like to offer condolences to Asheton's family, band mates and friends, as well as to all the Stooges fans world wide. Let's all give a few Stooges albums a listen as a tribute to a great musician and guitarist: Ron Asheton.