Archive for January, 2009

Ron Asheton RIP

January 6, 2009


I don’t have much time for guitar heroes. I’ve never particularly enjoyed hearing technical virtuosity for its own sake, unless it’s in the service of something excitingly original or beautiful. Ron Asheton, by far best known as the guitarist with The Stooges, wasn’t neccesarily the most technically brilliant guitar player in the world. But he was the living proof that you don’t have to be a virtuoso to make music that can move the hearts, the souls, the bodies and the sexual chakras of millions.

Ron Asheton’s guitar playing cut right to the essence of punk rock. It was dirty and loud, sleazy but somehow pure. It was psychedelic without being in the least part whimsical or pretentious. It was anger, energy, sex, frustration. It was Detroit. It was working class, industrial, but reaching for the cosmic beyond in an uneducated, and therefore real and genuine manner.

Ron didn’t play fast. He played deep. He played like he meant it, because he did. Listen to the guitar sound on ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ or ‘Funhouse’ or ‘1969’. Anyone could do it, but nobody could make it sound quite the way Ron did it. Leastways, not before he’d done it first. It was a noise that inspired generations to get it on; to challenge, to change, to question, to break free, to shake it up, whatever.

This is all off the top of my head, an immediate reaction to the news of Ron’s tragic and untimely death at the age of 60. A thought: in the week I started my current job, after years on the dole, Joey Ramone died. In the week I end it, Ron Asheton follows.