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The Stooges: Why they mattered

By Greg Cochrane
Newsbeat music reporter

The Stooges
The Stooges: Ron Asheton, Iggy Pop and Scott Asheton

The abiding image of garage-punk rockers The Stooges may be that of Iggy Pop's sinewy body curling out of his low-slung jeans, or the crowd chaos which inevitably accompanied them.

But it was guitarist and bassist Ron Asheton - discovered dead at his home in Ann Arbor, America on 6 January - who defined their sound.

His sad departure looks to spell the end for what is a truly legendary band.

The 60-year-old was - without any hint of overstatement - one of the founding fathers of punk rock guitar playing - his raw style going on to inspire so many artists since.

The way he handled his instrument was individual and pioneering.

A mix of scrawling feedback, rugged speed and hapless fingerwork that characterises the Detroit band's scratchy garage rock 'n' roll sound.

Asheton's wonderful overuse of wah wah and fuzz-tone was enthrallingly impolite, recognisably minimal and gleefully unrehearsed.

And in 1968 - with the Bee Gees and The Beach Boys enjoying notoriety it sounded like little before.

It prompted headaches, but also some of the biggest bands of all time.

Sonic Youth, The Sex Pistols, The Ramones and Rage Against The Machine [listen to TV Eye] and The Cribs to name just a handful, borrowing The Stooges' sound.

Founding member

Ron Asheton was one of one of four founding members of the Michigan foursome alongside drummer [and brother] Scott, bassist Dave Alexander and, of course, Iggy Pop.

For those not familiar, they arrived like a rudderless punk rock speedboat in 1967, a thrashy jigsaw of MC5 and The Rolling Stones, their chaotic live reputation proceeding them.

Three albums followed: debut The Stooges [1969], Raw Power [1973 - on which James Williamson played guitar, Asheton bass] and 1970's seminal clatter classic Fun House.

The band combusted in the early seventies - The Stooges it seemed had strummed their last de-tuned note.

Iggy Popp
Iggy Pop says he's lost his "best friend" in Ron Asheton

Asheton himself remained prolific with a number projects including The New Order and Destroy Monsters.

After that extended hiatus they patched their differences and returned in 2003 after a gap of 34 years and released The Weirdness.

Their final recorded output wasn't their best but that wasn't the point - their live shows remained as exhilarating as ever.

An appearance at Glastonbury in 2007 where a field of people stormed the stage one of the most eventful in recent memory.

The memories that will linger, and continue to inspire, will be of The Stooges' carnage.

A statement from the remainder of the band described Asheton as "a kind-hearted, genuine, warm person" and "The Guitar God, idol to follow and inspire others."

His legacy will undoubtedly prolong.



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