Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Death Trip

More sad news- after the recent death of the great Davy Graham I've just heard that Ron Asheton has been found dead at his home in Michigan, probably as a result of a heart attack. He was 60 years old. As guitarist for The Stooges on their first two albums 'The Stooges' and 'Fun House' he virtually invented punk rock guitar; he played bass on 'Raw Power' then returned to the guitar for their 2007 album 'The Weirdness'. I saw them play twice- in 2005 at The Hammersmith Apollo and at The Royal Festival Hall in 2007 which I can honestly say were two of the best rock performances that I've ever seen. Without the Stooges there wouldn't, indeed couldn't have been punk rock- The Sex Pistols covered 'No Fun', The Damned covered '1970' and Joe Strummer is said to have 'kissed the floor' of C.B.S. Studios in London when he discovered that The Clash were recording their first album in the same studio that The Stooges had used for 'Raw Power'. His playing on tracks like 'I Wanna Be Your Dog' sounds as radical today as it did when it was recorded 40-odd years ago; odd as it may seem there's a parallel here between him and Davy Graham as many people caught up with them in the end whilst claiming to have liked them all along. Maybe that's the price you pay for being ahead of your time?

“When I was a young guy coming up, going to the Grande Ballroom every weekend, I got to see my heroes play. Jeff Beck, the Who, everyone. I didn’t want to be a fanboy, but I’d stand there and wait — ‘I just want to say hi, this was great.’ I saw them walk by me with blank stares like they were zombies. I said to myself, you know, if I ever make it, I’ve got at least one minute for everybody who wants to say something. So I talk to people, and that’s what’s exciting now.”

Ron Asheton was in my opinion a great guitarist and, judging by the above quote from a 2003 interview, a pretty decent bloke. It's another sad loss to the guitar-playing world.

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