Ron Asheton, founding guitarist for proto-punk pioneers the Stooges, was found dead at his home this morning. Asheton’s buzzsaw guitar, combined with Iggy Pop’s snarling vocals, shaped the sound that would come to be known as punk rock, as other mold-breaking bands they influenced — including the Ramones and Sex Pistols — took up their mantle in the mid-70s. To me, he was one of the guitarists whose playing I sought to emulate — and I still stand in awe when I listen to Funhouse. Now he joins those two other great guitar influences, Johnny Thunders and Johnny Ramone, in that great smoky dive-bar gig in the sky.
And influence is what got the Stooges their notoriety. Missing out on commercial success in the late 1960s-early 1970s, their fame grew as bands they influenced drew attention to the original source — leading to a series of reunion shows in the last few years. I feel very lucky to have seen them — a couple of 60-year-olds who could still rock harder than most guys a third their age. Here are Iggy and Ron (and Ron’s brother Scott on drums), from a recent show, doing what they did best together (pardon the sound quality, but the Stooges live were never a pretty affair, anyhow) —