Farewell, then, to another legend. Ron Asheton, guitarist in proto-punk US rockers The Stooges, has passed away aged 60 at his home in Ann Arbor.
In terms of influence, Asheton has to take his place in the hall of fame, his style being adopted (and adapted) by legions of future heroes. Meanwhile, his best work sounds a fresh as it did when the band came kicking and screaming out of Michigan at the end of the ’60s.
To pay tribute, here are five of Asheton’s finest moments, and why they still matter. RIP big man.
1. I Wanna Be Your Dog
After kicking The Stooges’ best-loved song off with a flurry of explosive feedback, this glorious three-note descending riff encapsulates Asheton’s ‘less is more’ style, which without question helped define punk’s early sonic blueprint.
2. No Fun
Sex Pistols liked this tune so much they covered it regularly in their heyday – and continue to do so. Evolving from a stoned jam where frontman Iggy Pop was improvising lyrics based on Johnny Cash’s ‘I Walk The Line’, Asheton again cranks out another hi-energy rock ‘n’ roll riff so dumb the Ramones are thought to have learned how to play by strumming along to it.
Evolved like many of the songs on the Stooges’ self-titled debut album – there would be roughly two minutes of ‘conventional’ songwriting followed by wild improvisation. Here, Asheton’s choppy style dovetails perfectly with Iggy Pop’s tale of impending apocalypse.
4. Down On The Street
Come the chorus, as Iggy howls ‘NO WALL!!!!’, Asheton conjures up a nerve-shredding, lurching riff. And then about two minutes in, we have what seems like two separate solos competing with each other, adding to the song’s almost claustrophobic intensity.
5. T.V. Eye
Another wild, unrelenting blues-based riff (albeit hugely distorted), its raw, emotive power prefigured heavy metal. Combined with Iggy’s vocal and the four on the floor drumbeat later favoured by disco divas, the results are almost impossibly exciting.