Tuesday, January 06, 2009


This morning at 6 AM, my wife awoke me with the news of Ron Asheton's death. I haven't seen Ron, except on stage, since 1984, and had spoken on the phone with him only once, briefly in 1989. But all those years ago when we were impetuous young dudes in a primal rock scene in the Detroit/Ann Arbor area, we had the greatest of times being who we were and exploring our brand new world of living fantasy. We were boldly going where no men had gone before, and soaking up the craziest times ever. Ron impressed me as possibly the only down to earth character on the scene at the time. He was the only person I knew who actually was not carried away with all the experimentation, yet searched for a way of life that made common sense with a pioneering approach. While everyone was running around blowing out old values with reckless behavior, Ron quietly was investigating real-time approaches to the way he lived. We became friends simply because we felt comfortable together and independent from the scene stealers. Ron and I could hang out, drink our beer, and chat up without feeling pressured by anything or anyone. Ron was conservative, modest, and had a gleeful smile. He wasn't trying to be anyone else or to be an earth-shaker. He just loved what he was doing, that's all. During the period when we all signed our recording contracts with Electra, the Stooges were developing their persona on stage and preparing for the recording of their first album. I remember watching them during a performance at the Grande and thinking how they were achieving a remarkable effect in a most simple way. Without flash, without incredible soloing, without scads of lights or costume, they were creating a mystical atmosphere in the rawest of terms. They lived in our shadow, the shadow of the MC5, but as I watched and listened, I saw and heard them beating us! Ron and his boys, humble, independent, unique, doing it as well as they could, and making it on their own terms. I was thinking to myself, "Jesus Christ, I like them better than I like us!"

In 1977, after spending a year in prison and finding myself in the dubious position of returning to Ann Abor with no prospects, Ron appeared at my door with an invitation to be a part of a new band he was thinking of being in. For the next 7 years we blasted away as Destroy All Monsters, and stumbled through another chapter of rock and roll. During these years, I was always aware of how disappointed Ron was at the outcome of his former band, The Stooges. I don't think DAM was in any way, a viable replacement for what he felt was his ultimate achievement. And I have to admit that during our years in Destroy All Monsters, Ron and I lost the friendship we had once carried due to many thoughtless episodes, that, in retrospect, we could have, and should have healed. I regret that we never found the opportunity to mend our differences. Even so, I am grateful that Ron was able to heal and mend those rifts that had plagued him from his Stooges days. It is fitting and right, that he finally realized his original dream. Right on!

Was I shocked by the news of Ron's death? Yes, I was. But I am learning how easily our friends and colleagues slip away while we drift apart and go our separate ways. I tell myself that Ron did it all. He was his own man. He got to the top of the stairway. He will be mourned, missed, and honored. And he left a huge legacy, more than we realize. He left a huge impression on me, and I carry that impression constantly. I even find myself doing little imitations of Ron's humor all the time. It makes me smile. Farewell, my brother.