Tuesday, January 6, 2009
RIP Ron Asheton 1949-2009
Lest we forget, rock and roll is a highly collaborative pop art form, although most of us--fans, nitcrits, wanna-be’s, pop cult savants, Grammy givers, Colonel Tom’s, high-flyin’ producers, clam-diggin’ promoters, blubbering bloggers, taste makers and breakers—never seem to resist elevating the lone wolfsters in any band (be it songwriter, singer, or virtuoso geetar guy) to be the one, the only, the second coming of Bobby D or Little Richard or Jobriath, or your whatever choice of the shiny, shaking, shimmying, star bursting shaman of the moment.
Well the blueprints of the house/cave of The Stooges were truly scrawled on the wall by Iggy the Stooge who would mutate into Iggy the Pop , and he came to dominate, nay obliterate, their legacy, their legend, their sound, their call of the Michigan wild, their burning, jagged, childlike proto-primitive fusion of psychedelia, jazz, r&b, and, well kinda sorta, what would become punk. Yup, Iggy. And, of course, The Stooges, the forever immortalized Dum Dum Boys, lead by guitarist (and later bassist, then again guitarist) Ron Asheton, late to this world as of today, dead at 60,who began as an immovable and immutable mid-western lout scratching out chunky rhythms with his thick fingers, stomping his big, fat feet on the wah-wah petal while monkey boy Iggy danced like a murderous goatherd, making a sound that was so totally unconscious and uncalculated that without even trying it sounded like Jimi Hendrix knocking on Robert Johnson’s door while ingesting a mixture of amphetamines and crayons. (Ever hear this whopper of a rock Babylon rumor? Jack White puts ground-up Ron Asheton guitar picks into his toothpaste. My mom told me that.)
Ron’s monolithic riffs, his whammy bar bendings, his Flinstones-meet-Coltrane musical mentality, his stabs at power chording, all of it part of what Lester Bangs called The Stooges “sonic vistas”, will forever be floating through anybody-that-really-knows very own version of the underground garage. (Heard this from the guy at the milk store-Every time Tom Verlaine had one of his never ending migraines, he snuck down to the boiler room in his basement and tossed a Nazi shirt on and banged out Stooge tunes through a Pignose amp.) Iggy was an undulant piggy, and became a demi-god, but those guys (Dave Alexander, Scott Asheton, Steve Mackay, and Ronny Boy) staring at the ground when he went into one more version of Curly Shuffle/Ubangi Stomp, were more than just along for the ride, they also put a little gas in the ramalamadingdong hotrod, beeped the horn every once in a while, even rotated the tires in between flats. Ron Asheton was a dead end kid with an electric noise maker, a Podunk who found a calling while straining to hear the Thirteenth Floor Elevators tumble out his cousin’s transistor radio, a passenger who rode and rode, a prime mover, a high priest forever enshrined in the Rock and Roll Church of the Immovable Feast. (Read this one on the internet: When Thurston Moore heard one of Ronnie’s crunches over the fence of his juvenile delinquent neighbor’s shack he gave up the guitar on the spot and took the whole week off eating fritos and trying to learn the xylophone.)
(Please check out the real deal from yet another know-it-all jickey in NME.)