Friday Follies: The Stooges in Cincinatti, 1970; RIP Ron Asheton

By January 9, 2009Friday Follies

A combination follies and tribute this week, commemorating the death of Ron Asheton, lead guitarist of Iggy and the Stooges.

The video is from a 1970 concert in Cincinnati, and the humor comes in the clash of cultures: Iggy and the Stooges doing “TV Eye” in typically hyperkinetic fashion, and the play-by-play TV commentary from an announcer from the previous generation. “That’s peanut butter!”

And that’s Ron Asheton on guitar, playing the speedy sonic assault that helped make the Stooges the progenitors of punk rock. You can’t imagine most of modern alternative rock without him.

Asheton was found in his Ann Arbor home this week, dead of an apparent heart attack. Mike Watt pays tribute. So glad to have been able to see the reformed Stooges in D.C. back in 2007. Great solo.

UPDATE (12:18 p.m.): Social Distortion leader Mike Ness claims to have been inspired by Asheton’s guitar playing. In an L.A. Times blog entry, Ness says, “‘Search and Destroy’ was one of the first songs I learned on guitar,” Ness said Tuesday, shortly after word surfaced of Asheton’s death, apparently of natural causes. “For me as a guitar player, the first thing I pick up on is tone. He had this primitive, high-energy sound. It was pre-metal, but still a metallic sound. It’s just so awesome. That was definitely what caught my ears.”

Bah and boo! As any Stooges fan knows, James Williamson is playing guitar on the song and album; Asheton’s on bass, a subject of much angst back then. It’s like saying, “Mozart is my hero, I learned piano by playing ‘Fuer Elise.'” (Hat tip: Jim Neill.)

UPDATE: (4:25 p.m.): Mea culpa says L.A. Times writer: “[The] error was mine, not Mike’s. He did say that “Search and Destroy” was one of the first songs he learned to play on guitar, and he also said that what he liked so much about Asheton’s playing with the Stooges was his tone. In juxtaposing those two separate quotes, it created the incorrect impression that his comments about Asheton applied directly to “Search and Destroy,” which appeared on “Raw Power” and featured James Williamson on lead guitar after Asheton moved over to bass. …My apologies for the mixup.”


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