In Appreciation of Ron Asheton of The Stooges and Wylde Ratttz

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Iggy and The Stooges last summer at Terminal 5

I was sad to hear the news about Ron Asheton of The Stooges death last week.  He was a very special musician, and a great guy.  After years of inactivity, Ron was ready when Jimbo Dunbar and Don Fleming contacted him to help create music for the Todd Haynes film Velvet Goldmine, and the relationship yielded excellent results.

The Wylde Rattz were the backup band for the rock star in the movie. It took some time to get all the music written and recorded, with Fleming, J Mascis, Thurston Moore, Mark Arm and mike watt on bass as the band built around the Asheton brothers.  I’m not being very precise about the Wylde Ratttz – their legacy is lost to the sands of time probably.  Someday we will buy the album back from Vivendi cheap.  In the meantime, Chris Grier wrote a detailed account of the genesis of the Wylde Ratttz led to the subsequent revival of The Stooges, including a rare Ron Asheton download.

Anyhow, Velvet Goldmine was not a big hit and the soundtrack album was quickly taken out of print by London Records (As I recall, it peaked around 50 in CMJ, maybe a bit higher). With the music having been made for the film, any unused material was stuck in a legal black hole, and there may never be internal support for a full album of Wylde Rattz music.  As a result, most of the way to hear the Wylde Ratttz is on their myspace page.

But the band was important because it got Ron and Scott Asheton back making music, and that got Iggy’s attention.   Soon after the Wylde Ratttz reached the movies, Iggy and the Stooges reunited, had a good burst of blistering shows, and even made an Iggy Pop album with the reconstituted lineup last year.  I have seen them 5-6 times, thanks to watt’s hospitality, including at Roseland, the Dunkin Donuts’ Underground Garage Festival, SXSW, The United Palace and most recently at Terminal 5.  I know their agent and you can bet they got paid fairly.

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Jim "Jimbo" Dunbar, Don Fleming and Ron Asheton

Ron Asheton will be missed very much by all these guys, and I send my sympathy to his Iggy, watt, Scott and all his musician collaborators and family.

I wasn’t a Stooges fan, but I appreciate that I got to see Ron Asheton’s amazing guitar playing live.  It’s nice that he was a member of an active Stooges when it happened, and that the last few years of his life were ones of music, celebration, receiving kudos and making money on tour.

The Stooges Live at Terminal 5 (8/08)

While it’s tragic Ron Asheton left us so soon, I’m really proud of my friends Jimbo Dunbar, Don Fleming, Randy Poster, Thurston Moore, J Mascis,  Steve Shelley and Mike Watt for helping him get it going again and leaving on a high.

Thurston Moore has announced a tribute show (“Please come on down”): “Ronnie Thanks a Million,” to be held at the Music Hall of Detroit, Saturday January 17th 9pm. For details, click here.

Ronnie, thanks a million.

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