Ron Asheton, an original member of influential proto-punks [artist id=”313″]the Stooges[/artist], was found dead in his Ann Arbor, Michigan, home early Tuesday morning (January 6). He was 60 years old.
According to The Ann Arbor News, Asheton’s personal assistant contacted police late Monday after being unable to reach him for days. When officers arrived at Asheton’s home, they found his body on a living-room couch. He appeared to have been dead for at least several days. Detectives told the newspaper that the cause of death is undetermined, but that investigators do not suspect foul play. Autopsy and toxicology results are pending.
Asheton played guitar and bass in the Stooges, which he formed in Ann Arbor in 1967 with frontman Iggy Pop, Ron’s brother Scott on drums and bassist Dave Alexander. Asheton’s signature skuzzy riffs can be heard on such classic tracks as “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and “Down the Street,” from the Stooges’ first two albums (1969’s self-titled debut and 1970’s Fun House). He switched to bass for the band’s third album, Raw Power, in 1973, after Alexander was fired from the group.
Though none of the Stooges’ three albums could have even charitably been considered commercial successes when they were first released, they are today considered touchstones of raw, sludgy rock, hugely influential on the punk, metal and alternative genres that would break through to the mainstream in the decades that followed. And the band’s frantic, primitive live shows — which sometimes featured Pop cutting himself with shards of glass and diving headfirst into the audience — toed the line between performance art and out-and-out brutality, setting the guidelines for the mosh-pit heroics of basically every hard-rock act of the past 30 years.
After Power, Asheton left the Stooges and played in a series of bands, including the New Order and Destroy All Monsters. In 2003, he reunited with his brother Scott and bassist Mike Watt to play on Pop’s solo album, Skull Ring. That same year, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him at number 29 on their 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time list.
In 2005, the Stooges reunited — with Watt once again on bass — to play a series of U.K. festival gigs. Then in 2007, they released their first album of new material in nearly 35 years, The Weirdness. They promoted the album with a lengthy tour, including raucous stops at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin and Lollapalooza in Chicago.
In September, the Stooges were nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, alongside acts like Run-DMC and Metallica. Inductees will be announced later this month.