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The Stooges‘ guitarist Ron Asheton, who was found dead of a heart attack on Tuesday, has already been thoroughly eulogized in various other publications, so I felt a little bit intimidated about posting my own feelings up here. Really, how many times can you write words like “legendary” before they begin to sound relatively meaningless? Also, I’m unable to fully explain my feeling about Asheton’s work beyond saying that “TV Eye” almost caused me to crash my car a bunch of times—and I’m not sure if that even makes any sense.
Chris Grier—local journalist, musician, inhuman guitar-abuser, and frequent member of the bands To Live and Shave in LA and Ultimate VAG—has some audible proof of Asheton’s greatness over on the Smokemusic.tv. In addition to a brief eulogy, Grier also posted some anecdotes and a few rarely heard songs from Wylde Ratttz sessions for the Velvet Goldmine soundtrack, on which Asheton played guitar. Velvet Goldmine was—for those who weren’t paying attention to androgynous glam-rock indie flicks during the 90’s—director Todd Haynes’ (of I’m Not There fame) movie that was kinda-sorta about Iggy Pop and David Bowie getting it on. Wylde Ratttz were the all-star band formed to stand in for The Stooges that included—in addition to Asheton—Steve Shelley, Thurston Moore, Don Fleming, Mark Arm, and Mike Watt. Needless to say, they were waaaaay tougher than the Thom Yorke-fronted Spiders From Mars stand-ins.
The two tracks posted—”I’m Not Screwing Around” and “Hot Shot”— are pretty smoking and they shoot down any argument that Asheton ever mellowed out.