Ron Asheton- R.I.P.

It’s Tues. Morning, Jan. 6th, 10 AM NYC time. I just got word from my friend Michelle in Michigan that the great Ron Asheton passed away. Age 60. I’m in total shock. I’m reposting my Oct. Stooges posting because it’s got some rare photos and rare tunes. One thing I mixed up back in Oct.  In the bottom photo it’s Bill Cheetam on the far left, Zeke Zettner second from left.  Give a listen to the two takes of Jr. Kimbrough’s You Better Run posted below.  Pull out the Funhouse box.  He changed the world with three chords and a maltese cross.  R.I.P.

     Halloween marks the forty first anniversary of the first Stooges show. As unlikely as it would have sounded at the time of their first show, they’re still out there and despite a 29 year sabbatical, still the best rock’n’roll band on the road.

     Rock’n’roll re-unions, at best are disappointing (the Velvet Underground), and usually just plain suck (the Byrds, New York Dolls), but the Stooges are always the exception to the rule, Hell, I’ve seen ’em three times since they’ve reformed and they were no less than great each time. Who would have imagined it? Hearing them on TV commercials doesn’t bother me, I don’t begrudge ’em a cent, hell Ray Charles, Bo Diddley, Little Richard and Jimmy Reed all did commercials. Good enough for Jimmy Reed, good enough for anybody.  I even like the Stooges last LP The Weirdness which nobody likes, but nobody ever likes their albums until they’re twenty years old. There’s not much left to say about the Stooges, but here’s some rare sounds and pics for you. First off are two takes of Junior Kimbrough’s “You Better Run” recorded for a tribute to Junior Kimbrough LP (which I’ve never seen, was it even released?). First one is here and the second take is here. Iggy really sounds like he’s having fun, especially on the spoken part which he copies from Kimbrough’s original verbatim.
     If you missed the Funhouse Sessions seven CD box you really missed something great. I bought three copies but gave two of ’em away. From the first session for that classic disc here’s the very first take of “Down On The Street” and here’s the first take of” Funhouse”. There’s more than twenty takes of some tunes, even two takes of “LA Blues”. How did they decide which one was the keeper? Even the studio chatter is interesting.  The box is worth killing for in my opinion. It’s nice to have the whole mess on the hard drive so the various takes show up when I leave the box on shuffle. I’m constantly getting up to check the computer screen– “Loose take 17″, gotta remember that one”, then I forget which take it was and what was different it. The weird thing about the box is that since Ron overdubbed a second guitar part on the first three tunes, we never actually here the issued versions of “Down On The Street”, “Loose” and “TV Eye”. The issued takes are present but without the overdubs.
More Stooges tidbits– The first LP has been re-issued with the John Cale mix thrown in as bonus tracks. Iggy’s mix is better but it’s fun to hear. I’ll post some of those tunes some day. Speaking of mixes, Sundazed has re-issued the 45 version of “Search & Destroy” b/w “Penetration” which is still the best mix. I hated Iggy’s remix of Raw Power (at least one band member whom I leave nameless agrees with me), all he did was remove the effects from Williamson’s guitar and make his own voice louder (and let the fades play through to the endings). I thought the one thing Bowie got right were the vocals and guitars, all Raw Power needed was for the bass and drums to be turned up. So you still need your old vinyl copy. The bass and drums are audible on the WABX tapes but the sound quality on those bootlegs are so lousy I can’t recommend ’em.  
Paul Trynka’s bio Iggy: Open Up and Bleed (Broadway Books, 2007) is a hoot and well worth reading. Much better than Joe Ambrose’s awful bio (the first edition of which was pulled from the market due to plagiarism, he literally stole about 1/3rd of it from Please Kill Me, uncredited). Ambrose hates Funhouse, so why bother writing an Iggy bio? He’s practically illiterate, did none of his own research and has awful taste in music. It may be the lamest book ever published about a major musical figure, and that’s saying something. Trynka’s book however is extremely well researched and full of fun gossip, my favorite parts are Iggy’s crazy sabbatical in Haiti, and the entire story of the recording of New Values (Williamson producing at gunpoint!).
The video clip of course is from the tv show Midsummer’s Night Rock which aired in 1970. I saw it then, at age 11, and it was a galvanizing, life changing moment. It took a couple of years to track down their first two  LP’s (which I eventually got for .39 cents in a department store bargin bin along with the first Mc5 album) but from
that first glimpse of them on TV I knew the Stooges were what rock’n’roll was all about.
The two above photos show the Stooges in odd line ups. The top photo is the Stooges in ’71 with James Williamson (center) and Jimmy Recca (second from left) added to the band on guitar and bass respectively. Recca would later play with Ron Asheton in a band called New Order (not the English disco group). Williamson (who came into the Stooges from a band called the Chosen Few with a detour to reform school in between) would make a power play and force Asheton to bass when they reformed the band in ’72. The bottom photo shows the group in late 1970 with members of the road crew, the late Zeke Zetner and Bill Cheetam in the line up. I’m not sure which one played guitar and which one played bass but Zetner is on the far left, Cheetam second from left. Since my wife got the photo framed before I could make a copy I re-shot it through the frame. We have another photo from the same session that’s not framed that I may post some day. Since we seem to have the only copies of these photos that exist if you use them without permission I’ll know where you stole ’em from.
Back in the early 70’s in wasn’t so much that the Stooges were unknown so much as they were utterly hated. If you met another Stooges fan back then chances are you’d be friends for life. Most of my oldest friends were people I bonded with over the Stooges.

10 thoughts on “Ron Asheton- R.I.P.”

  1. My first time in Ann Arbor was 1969 — I distinctly remember asking my Dad why guys were selling airplane glue on the Diag…Then a couple years later, my older brother was playing their first album and I stared at the album cover like those guys were from another planet.Hope your Halloween in spooktacular..

  2. The MC5’s “Rocket Reducer #9” is about glue sniffin’,it’s also mentioned in the Flamin’ Groovies’ “Comin’ After Me” (“the doctor sez I gotta stay away from the glue” ) and of course the Ramones devoted a whole tune to it. In Fla where I come from the kids would get spray paint and spray it into bread bags and “huff it”, hence the term “huffin’ paint”. The best rock’n’roll was always made on liquor or drugs or both, notice how shitty acts get when they give it up…..

  3. that’s great, I should use this chance to plug my buddy Hal Wilner’s Lenny Bruce Let The Buyer Beware box set, six cd’s worth of Lenny at his best, most of it unavailable elsewhere. Shout Family put it out in 2004.

  4. I thought Trynka was English? Or was Kirtchen Iggy’s classmate? He made one of my favorite Xmas records–Daddy’s Drinking Up Christmas when he was w/C. Cody.

  5. Thanks for the rare pics, links and trivia. 39 cents an album?! I paid about $32 for my copy of “Fun House” and it was a Canadian pressing! I also love “The Weirdness” the 4 bonus tracks on the vinyl version are especially good.Just so you know, you got Cheatham and Zeke mixed up. Bill’s on the far left and Zeke’s second on the left. Oh, and Zeke played bass and Bill Cheatham was on rythm guitar.Anyway thank you, thank you, thank you!


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