Scott Asheton, the man who supplied the beats for the Stooges—probably America’s most primal and influential rock group—passed away March 15 of an undisclosed illness. He was 64.
Asheton (aka Rock Action) drummed on three of the most iconic and potent rock albums of all time: The Stooges (1969), Fun House (1970), and Raw Power (1973). He and his guitarist brother Ron and bassist Dave Alexander (and later guitarist James Williamson) provided the tumultuous foundation on top of which frontman Iggy Pop adrenalized rock with unprecedented proto-punk fury. Thousands—if not millions—of musicians continue to be inspired by those records to this day.
To my ears, Asheton’s drums always sounded a bit too buried in the mix on The Stooges and Raw Power. It’s only on Fun House that you can clearly hear the man’s lethal mastery of those fairly basic but vital rhythms. And the lewdly funky beats on “Dirt” were filthy enough to be sampled by Native Tongues hiphop greats Jungle Brothers for their track “I’m in Love with Indica Jones.”
Besides that aforementioned triumvirate of classics, Asheton played with Ann Arbor supergroup Sonic’s Rendezvous Band and continued working with the Stooges up through 2013’s Ready to Die album. Asheton’s death leaves Iggy Pop as the sole surviving member of the original lineup. It’s doubtful anyone could’ve predicted that outcome during the Stooges' heyday.
In a Facebook post, James Williamson wrote this about Asheton:
My only comfort is that [Scott] reached out to me in an email about a week or two ago saying that he was thinking of me and the good times we had together and that he would like to make some music with me. I responded but he never got back to me again. I guess that was his way of saying goodbye for now…. Anyway, my heart goes out to his immediate family Liz, Leanna Raquel Asheton and Kathleen Asheton He was one of the good guys and a friend of mine.