Passings: Ron Asheton

The Stooges recorded three frantic, intense LPs, developed a tough and nasty reputation, then watched as their lead singer became an icon. They got old, were remembered and idolized by a relative few, then reunited — like stepping out for the expected encore — and gathered the respect and adoration that might have escaped them earlier.

To perform in the shadow of Iggy Pop and not become invisible means you’re doing something right. Ron Asheton’s guitar on the The Stooges and Funhouse records was as raw and wild as Iggy’s vocals and stage behavior, and endeared him to many who came later to create punk rock and its many descendents. He was reportedly happy to tour again and to record another Stooges LP a few years back, and had since lived a quiet life in his native Ann Arbor. When no one had heard from him for a couple days, the police were called. He was found on the living room couch, dead at 60. I hope it was as peaceful as it sounds.

The Stooges have been nominated repeatedly for inclusion in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but have not been invited. Steely Dan, but not the Stooges. The Police, but not the Stooges. Madonna, but not the Stooges. They are nominated again in 2009, but so is Chic. Pretty tough competition.

But their place in rock-and-roll history has already been secured, despite the deliberations of some. And somewhere tonight, as the old cliche goes, Ron Asheton is joining in on the greatest jam ever.

RIP, Mr. Asheton.

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