Iggy Pop and the Stooges – Ron Ashton Tribute Iggy Pop and the Stooges – Ron Ashton Tribute


J.C. & Iggy

J.C. & Iggy

Most people cringe when asked who their all time favorite band is, I don’t. Iggy Pop and the Stooges have moved and influenced me in a way that no other artist or musician could. The Stooges gave me a of feeling of liberation and contentment leading me down a path that influenced, not only the music I listen to and the style I write and play music, but the ideology and passion I have for music. This piece is a tribute to the Stooges recently deceased Ron Ashton, and a testimony of how the Stooges affected my life and the world of rock and roll.

Earlier this year, Ron Ashton died in his sleep of a heart attack. The sixty-year-old Stooges guitarist passed away at home in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Ironically, Ron was the only Stooges member who was not a drug addict. Heroin plagued the rest of the Stooges leaving Ron to clean up after his band members. I believe life doesn’t always turn out like it should, and I guess you just have to roll with the punches and see where you end up. Ron Ashton is an influential guitarist in the world of rock and roll, known through his work on the Stooges first two albums that included: song writing, playing lead guitar, and rhythm guitar. Musicians and fans will miss Ron, ending another chapter in the Stooges ongoing legacy.

In 1969 a musical underground culture was emerging just in time for a young band out of Ann Arbor, Michigan to release an advent-garde, toxic noise. The Stooges were led by James Osterberg (Iggy Pop); along with rest of the line up that included the Aston brothers, guitarist Ron and drummer Scott, and bassist Dave Alexander. The Stooges influential effect is undeniable, with their fingerprints found in bands from the New York Dolls to the White Stripes. Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground pioneered garage rock, then MC5 sped it up, but it was the Stooges that revamped and perfected it. They utilized their rock and blues influences to transmit something fresh into rock and roll. The Stooges early live performances were distorted and groundbreaking. Iggy would often turn common household appliances into instruments, launching a beautiful ear-piercing blast of noise towards the audience. His voice was dirty and rude, that combined with the rest of Iggy’s on-stage antics, made Jim Morrison look like Morrissey. The rawness of Ron Aston’s guitar licks and tone imprinted famous dirty rock melodies into the minds of young Americas. Dave’s aggressive bass clashing with Scott’s heavy hitting drums completed the Stooges, giving birth to lo-fi garage rock that would hold an influential effect on musicians and fans for generations to come.

While the album Raw Power contrived Iggy Pop as the “God Father of punk”, and Fun House has been critically acclaimed the Stooges best work (and it is one of the best rock and roll albums of all time), the way I felt after I first listened to 1969 is what changed me forever. The album opens with psychedelic wavy guitar before immediately thrusting into the simple and heavy lick of 1969, that became the anthem of my teens, “Its another year for me and you, another year with nothing to do.” Further down the track list is I wanna be your dog, I still get a tingling feeling throughout my body every time I hear the first few seconds of this song, reminding me that I didn’t know rock and roll until I heard the Stooges. Iggy and the Stooges opened up my young world to a new culture, introducing me to the best music in a variety of genera. It blows my mind thinking that I might have spent these years relying to the radio or watching MTV’s TRL to fill my musical pop culture void. I would have missed out on so much if the Stooges hadn’t found me at an early age. Thus, creating a chain of events that introduced me to the surfers, the punks, the drug addicts, the artists, and all the different people and things in my life that have shaped me into the person I am today.

After breaking up in 1974, the Stooges reunited and started playing various gigs around the world in 2003. It wasn’t until the 2007 Miami Art Basal that I got my first chance to witness the Stooges live. Living in south Florida at the time, I heard about the Stooges playing a free show at the opening of Miami’s Art Basal. I arrived on South Beach with great speculation still thinking this was too good to be true. There is a stage built on the sand that is located less than a few hundred feet from the water; no gates, no lines, and no one is asking for my ticket. I make my way to the front, looking back at an army of fans, artists, and musicians marching towards the stage. Next, Iggy and the Ashton brothers appear accompanied by bassist Mike Watt. They started powering through their set, playing songs off 1969 and Funhouse. I am in my element, and I probably look like an idiot jumping around with a huge grin that can’t be wiped off my face. I didn’t think it could get any better, until it did. Iggy called out to me, or at least that’s how I interpreted it, “C’mon Up here I am getting lonely.” A few others join me as I scale the barricade and dodge a few security guards, before climbing up onto the stage. As I get to my feet, I am face to face with Ron Ashton who didn’t seem to mind or even notice my great stage invasion. Turning around to look at Iggy, I am stunned, watching one hundred people follow us over the barricade. Security guards begin to flee their posts. Scott Ashton starts the beat to “No Fun”, and I make my way towards Iggy. Ron and Mike dive into the verse, a hundred people are on the stage, and a raspy voice emerges from the pa “no fun, my babe, no fun”. A thousand fans are watching with their feet in the sand, and Iggy hands me the microphone.

JC Giovino

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