The death of Ron Asheton (second from the right in the picture) might signal the death of the Stooges, a band so absurdly chaotic and destructive at their peak that even hardcore fans turned against them for being too mental. Fuelled on heroin, killer chords and a desire to kick the shit out of psychedelic 60s bands, the trio from Detroit released three albums before the Sex Pistols even knew what a guitar was. They invented punk.
Asheton co-wrote the first two Stooges albums with Iggy Pop: 1969’s The Stooges and 1970’s Fun House. For 1973’s David Bowie produced Raw Power, Asheton was the bassist. He was as integral to the Stooges’ sound as Iggy was to their attitude, and many of his two and three chord riffs are instantly recognisable (see: I Wanna Be Your Dog and No Fun). Then it all went wrong. The smack and the madness got too much and in late ‘73 they broke up as a living, breathing freak show.
Iggy Pop was the star of the Stooges. And if ever there was a template for Pete Doherty’s junk-based meltdowns, it was him. He would cut himself, shoot up, and smear steak and peanut butter all over himself on stage. Just because. He was the ultimate 'fuck you' to anyone wanting well-mannered professionals pumping out the hits instead of unhinged punk stars. But behind every attention seeking, high profile front-man are musicians doing the business. Asheton kept Iggy in a job. He was so good, he could probably make Doherty look acceptable.
When the Stooges fell apart in ‘73, Asheton formed The New Order (not the British, Blue Monday dudes) and Destroy All Monsters. But no one really cared about them. And as time’s gone on bands like Guns N' Roses, REM and the Red Hot Chili Peppers have immortalised the Stooges, covering them on albums and at gigs. While Kurt Cobain and Jack White have both regularly creamed themselves publicly over Asheton and co’s magnificence.
So much so, that when they reformed in 2003 they were bigger than ever, and promptly decided to use their new found fame to kick shit out of audiences worldwide. The boys were back in town. No more heroin but plenty of mayhem, it became the norm for Iggy to invite as many of their friends in the audience to come on stage as possible.
Thanks to the last six years of touring and 2007’s new album The Weirdness, Ron Asheton went out in a blaze of glory. The music industry mourns. All Iggy Pop has said since his death, is: "I am in shock. He was my best friend."
For more Stooges footage, head to our Incoming article.