Deniz Tek and the Black Stratocaster
Ron and I grew up in the same town, went to the same junior high and the same high school, although he was five years ahead of me. It turned out that we had a lot of common ground: music, the love of history, books and films. And, of course, full appreciation for the greatness of the “Three Stooges”.
I met Ron in 1976 at a Sonic’s Rendezvous Band show at the Roadhouse on Whitmore Lake Road north of Ann Arbor. I recognized him immediately from shows I’d seen, magazine pix and the album covers. Totally self assured, he radiated confidence, wisdom, and world weariness. He pulled on a Lucky Strike through an aqua filter, a glass of CC and soda at hand on the table, and seemed approachable, so I went over and asked if I could have a word with him. He smiled and invited me to sit down and have a drink. That was the start of a friendship that would last a quarter of a century.
Ron & Deniz sitting in with Scott Morgans’s band Powertrane at the Warsaw Club in N.Y.C
Ron was forever generous with his time and talents. We spent a lot of good times hanging out in his basement, jamming, writing music, some of which I later recorded, and it was there that I met Dennis Thompson, (MC-5). A few years later the three of us went on tour as the New Race in Australia. And I would often join Ronny onstage with one of his other post Stooges bands, Destroy All Monsters. Throughout the years we kept tabs on each other’s musical journeys, but our friendship went way beyond just the music.
He had a distinctive black Stratocaster, which was Japanese made, of late 80’s vintage. It was not particularly rare, nor was it an expensive guitar. Ron “customized” it with an American flag sticker, behind the bridge. He played this beautiful black guitar often during those years. I loved the sound that Ronny got with the Strat, which brought back to life the early days of the Stooges. Ronny would stand stage right, totally in command, with his skinny white jeans, Go-Kart t-shirt, Iron Cross, and his Stratocaster.
When he teamed up with his brother Scott, Jay Mascis (Dinosaur Jr.) and Mike Watt, many believed that was the impetus for the return of the Stooges. And as we all now know, the reformation of the Stooges did soon follow, and proved to be a major triumph for a long awaited return to the world stage. Many stories could be told by others, but, I simply say he was a force of good in the universe. His contribution can never be overstated.
At the tribute show for Ron at the Michigan Theater, in Ann Arbor in April of 2011, I was delighted to see Ron’s black Stratocaster set up with the stage gear. Chris Wujek, Ron’s guitar tech on the Stooges tours, told me I was welcome to play it. I picked it up on the last song … No Fun. Everyone joined in together on stage for the big encore. I was hammering away on the guitar, James Williamson on my right, Steve Mackay on my left, Henry Rollins muscles straining, trying to control the surging crowd. The sound was huge and it was a complete frenzy! I could feel Ronny there, his spirit encompassing the entire event, with his eternal energy beaming through that guitar. Backstage after that incredible show, which I will always consider a key moment in my life, Scott said he wanted me to keep the guitar. I was honored to accept.
The last time I played on stage with Ronny, he was playing the black Strat, which he so clearly loved. This in itself makes the guitar important to me beyond words. Whenever I play that guitar, which is often, it’s like my dear old friend is right there with me. He gave me a little bit of his spirit and his joie de vivre, and it enriched my life. I will miss him forever.