Guitarist Ron Asheton, whose primal and grimy style in the Stooges was a key part of the blueprint for punk rock, was found dead Tuesday morning at his home in Ann Arbor, Mich. He was 60.
The Detroit Free press reported that the Ann Arbor Police Dept. received a call to check on Asheton, who had not been heard from for a few days. Police found him dead. Foul play is not suspected.
The guitar sound Asheton employed, defined by darkness, density and a lack of solos, distinguished the Stooges from other rock acts of the mid- to late-1960s. While the band’s lead singer Iggy Pop enjoyed success as a solo act in the 1970s and was lauded by punks and art rock acts for his Stooges output, it was not until grunge and alternative rock acts started to discuss influences that Asheton’s name was came up regularly as a major influence.
He had fans in Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore and fellow Detroiter Jack White, a staunch champion of the Stooges’ second album “Fun House,” released in 1970. Despite a lack of commercial success, the Stooges are considered one of the most important rock groups to have emerged from the Detroit area.
Asheton had enjoyed a career revival over the past several years thanks to a reunion with Stooges drummer — his brother Scott — and singer Pop that began with shows in 2003. With bassist Mike Watt filling in for the late Dave Alexander, the reconstituted Stooges recorded an album, “The Weirdness,” in early 2007, which was followed by an extensive tour.
Born July 17, 1948, in Washington, D.C., Asheton joined Pop’s Stooges in 1967 when they became an underground hit. Band signed with Elektra Records and recorded two albums, “The Stooges” in ’69 and “Fun House.” All four members of the band received credit on tunes such as “1969” and “I Wanna Be Your Dog.”
Heavy substance abuse led to the band sitting in limbo for several years; it returned on Columbia Records with “Raw Power” in 1973, which also flopped but has since been designated as a seminal influence on punk rock.
With the breakup of the Stooges, the Asheton brothers founded New Order (no relation to the Brit band of the 1980s), which quickly broke up. Ron Asheton played with a number of other Michigan artists and in 1998 recorded with the Stooges’ classic “TV Eye” for the film “Velvet Goldmine” as a member of Wylde Rattz.
The two partnered with J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. in the band the Fog and during a 2002 tour started playing several tunes from the Stooges’ first two albums. They played on four tracks of Pop’s 2003 release “Skull Ring” and then reunited as the Stooges at the 2003 Coachella festival in Indio, Calif. It was their first concert in 30 years.
The Stooges are on the ballot for the next Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction class.