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Billboard.com: Iggy Pop and the Stooges Rock Ron Asheton Tribute Concert


This article was originally posted on billboard.com. Apr 20, 2011, by: Gary Graff.


Ron Asheton was not around to see the Stooges inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010. But the group’s late co-founder was saluted on Tuesday in his hometown of Ann Arbor, Mich., with what was, appropriately, the loudest wake you can imagine.

Organized by his sister, Kathy Asheton, and curated by Iggy Pop, the two-and-a-half hour bash at the Michigan Theater mixed words and music — but mostly music — to pay tribute to Asheton, who died on Jan. 6, 2009, at the age of 60. It was a typical night of Stooges-style brutality but in an even more passionate form, as the group and its guests took a wide swing through the repertoire, clearly moved by the sense of occasion and the cacophonous spirit of the 1,700 fans who snapped up tickets for the concert in less than an hour.

Following a spirited opening set by Space Age Toasties, a quartet from Ann Arbor’s Neutral Zone teen center, and a slideshow accompanied by an orchestral overture of Stooges’ songs — “Some of his (Asheton’s) themes always reminded me a lot of…classical music in the 17th century,” Pop told Billboard.com prior to the show — emcee Henry Rollins fronted the band for “I Got a Right.” Pop then came on to commence a full-on Stooges performance with co-founder and drummer Scott “Rock Action” Asheton, “Raw Power” guitarist James Williamson, longtime saxophonist Steve Mackay and Mike Watt, the group’s bassist since 2003.

Shirtless and manic as always, even two days before his 64th birthday, it didn’t take Pop long to turn the theater to bedlam. Following pulverizing renditions of “Raw Power,” “Search and Destroy” and “Gimme Danger,” Pop brought dozens of fans on stage for “Shake Appeal,” clearly reveling in the ecstatic anarchy of the moment. The rest of the night maintained the energy through favorites such as “Beyond the Law,” “1970” and “Fun House,” the “ballad” “Open Up and Bleed” and a rendition of “I Wanna Be Your Dog” beefed up by an 11-piece orchestra.

The ensemble stayed on stage as Radio Birdman’s Deniz Tek, a longtime Asheton friend, spelled Williamson for “T.V. Eye,” “Loose,” “Dirt” and “Real Good Time,” while Williamson returned for a new acoustic composition called “Ron’s Tune,” in which Pop sang that “the music says you’ll be my friend to the end” and “because you were my friend, I always think of you again.” The night finished with everyone, including more audience members, onstage for “No Fun” — whose title, of course, was the antithesis of the experience.

The speeches were relatively short but no less a part of the night. Scott Asheton thanked Pop for helping his brother “make his rock ‘n’ roll dreams come true — and that goes for the drummer, too.” Rollins delivered an ebullient dissertation explaining both the Stooges’ impact and Ron Asheton’s importance as “just a magnificent musician, period.” The founding group members received keys to the city, and before “Ron’s Tune” Pop spoke warmly about his absent friend, noting that, “He had a gift, a sort of charm. His compositions were simple but very memorable,” and recalling that, “when I wanted to start a band, Ron was the first guy who would get behind me.”
The concert was a lunch of sorts for the Ron Asheton Foundation formed by his sister to help raise money for charitable causes, particularly music and animal rights and care organizations. Information can be found at ronashetonfoundation.org.

Here is the setlist for the Ron Asheton tribute show:

“I Got a Right” (with Henry Rollins)
“Raw Power”
“Search and Destroy”
“Gimme Danger”
“Shake Appeal”
“L.A. Blues”
“Beyond the Law”
“Fun House”
“Open Up and Bleed”
“Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell”
“I Wanna Be Your Dog” (with orchestra)
“T.V. Eye” (with Deniz Tek and orchestra)
“Loose” (with Tek and orchestra)
“Dirt” (with Tek and orchestra)
“Real Cool Time” (with Tek and Orchestra)
“Ron’s Tune” (Iggy Pop and James Williamson acoustic)
“No Fun” (with Tek, orchestra and Space Age Toasties)

Rolling Stone: Iggy and the Stooges Honor Their Late Guitarist Ron Asheton


This article was originally posted on rollingstone.com. Apr 20, 2011, by: Andy Greene.

Iggy Pop and the Stooges perform at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor, Michigan, April 19, 2011.

Iggy Pop and the Stooges perform at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor, Michigan, April 19, 2011. Photograph by Melanie Maxwell/ AnnArbor.com

Near the end of the Stooges’ tribute concert to their late guitarist Ron Asheton at Ann Arbor’s Michigan Theater last night, Iggy Pop did something virtually unprecedented: he sat down, hushed the crowd, and addressed them in a calm, measured tone that was clearly the voice of Jim Osterberg – and not his psychotic alter-ego. “I need to thank Ron,” he said. “He sort of peed this beautiful music all over me. When I started a band Ron was the first guy who got behind me. I owe him…I know he’s trying to flick ashes on my head from heaven right now.”

When he wrapped up his short, moving speech to his friend, James Williamson – the man who usurped Asheton’s role as the Stooges’ lead guitarist in 1973 – began playing a composition entitled “Ron’s Tune” on the acoustic guitar. Up to that point in the show every song was written during the Stooges’ brief existence from 1969 to 1974, but this track was brand new. “This is your requiem,” Osterberg sang. “I never got to say goodbye. You were my friend. I’ll always think of you again.”

Lifelong Stooges fanatic Henry Rollins – who served as the evening emcee – addressed the crowd after an opening set by a local high school band called the Space-Age Toasters. “Ron Asheton is not just a peerless guitar player,” Rollins said. “He’s also a brilliant bass player as well…Stooges albums were dissected by Black Flag. Deconstructed by that band. Analyzed by that band. Put under harsh light and interrogated by that band. Water-boarded by that band. We were trying unlock the secret of the bass and drums and were all that power came from. We listened to those records until they fell apart.”

Immediately after the speech, Rollins led the current line-up of the band through a powerful version of the deep cut “I Got A Right.” During the performance, Iggy stood on the side of the stage bouncing up and down, looking like a racehorse itching to bolt out of the starting gate. From the opening chords of “Raw Power” he was off. Williamson looks like a retired Sony Electronics executive (which he is), but 30 years in the business world didn’t rob him of his chops. When he emerged as Iggy’s new collaborator of choice around 1972 it completely realigned the band’s power structure and the Asheton brothers were nearly thrown out of the group. His return after Ron’s tragic death in 2009, however, has given the band yet another new lease on life.

The Michigan Theater – which is around the corner from where the Stooges first met and played together – is a gorgeous, restored movie palace from the Twenties. It’s the kind of place where they still tear your ticket because they don’t have scanners, and ushers immediately chastise anybody who steps one foot into the aisle. They were not prepared for Iggy. “I promised I wouldn’t do this,” he screamed about 20 minutes into the show. “We’re in a nice fucking theater…but invade the stage!”

At least 100 fans dove onto the stage and crowded it to the point that Iggy was thrashed about like a rag doll and neared knocked down to the ground many times. It took a good five minutes for everybody to clear everybody off.

The rest of the main set was a normal Stooges concert. Iggy repeatedly dove on top of the crowd with little regard for his safety, and the band played a set heavy on Raw Power classics like “Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell,” “Search And Destroy” and “Gimme Danger.” Whatever diet and exercise routine Iggy practices, the 63-year-old should seriously consider writing a book about it. His energy level is seemingly unchanged from the Stooges’ initial go-round 40 years ago.

Williamson does a very fine job aping Asheton’s fuzzed-out guitar tone, but for the encores Radio Birdman’s Deniz Tek took over. He played “TV Eye,” “Loose,” “Dirt,” and “Real Good Time” like he was possessed by Asheton’s very soul. It was incredible, and he seemed hugely honored to have the opportunity. Even more amazing was the orchestra joining the group in the back of the stage for the Fun House material. It was the perfect way to demonstrate how timeless and beautiful Asheton’s songs are. Iggy made incredible music when he stopped writing with Ron Asheton, but it was never quite as good.

The show ended, of course, with “No Fun.” All of the evening’s performers played, and despite the valiant efforts of the ushers and house security, the fans once again stormed the stage. It was absolute chaos – which is just the way Ron would have wanted it.

‘How I Met Your Mother’ star joins Stooges audience for night of controlled chaos

The Michigan Theater

The Michigan Theater

This article was originally posted on freep.com. Apr 20, 2011, by: Steve Byrne.

Iggy & the Stooges had at least one famous fan in the audience Tuesday night as the band played a tribute show for its late guitarist Ron Asheton.

Jason Segel, who is in Ann Arbor prepping for the upcoming shoot of the romantic comedy “Five Year Engagement,” stopped just around the corner from the Michigan Theater after the show to talk about the serendipitous circumstances that led to him catching a performance by one of his favorite groups.

“Iggy is one of my musical heroes,” said Segel, one of the stars of the CBS sitcom “How I Met Your Mother,” and a go-to comedic actor in movies like “I Love You, Man” and “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.”

“Five Year Engagement” is still in the location-scouting stage for principal photography, and Segel said he was just walking around Ann Arbor when he noticed the marquee for Tuesday’s show, which acted as both a Stooges concert and a memoriam for Asheton, the band’s founding guitarist who died of a heart attack in 2009.

Segel managed to get into the event — it had sold out months ago — and said he was blown away by the luck that allowed him to catch a favorite group in its hometown. It was his first time seeing the Stooges, a band that many consider the forefather of punk rock.

“It was one of the best concerts I’ve seen in my life,” said Segel of the show, which saw Iggy, drummer Scott Asheton, guitarist James Williamson, bassist Mike Watt and a number of guests sear through a plethora of guttural and energetic Stooges mainstays.

Twice during the show — including during the closing “No Fun” — Iggy invited the audience to join him on the relatively tight Michigan Theater stage. Dozens, if not hundreds, obliged, making for a few messy yet fittingly Stooge-y moments. Segel said he was particularly impressed by these episodes of “contained chaos.”

It could have been a bad scene with all those people on stage, Segel said, but the crashers “really showed their respect” for the musicians by leaving them essentially unscathed.

Ron Asheton Tribute Live on Sirius XM


Live Concert: Ron Asheton Memorial featuring Iggy and the Stooges Tonight 8:00 pm ET Iggy and the Stooges honor late founding member Ron Asheton with a once-in-a-lifetime event, taking it back to where it all began, Ann Arbor, MI. Hear the music of Raw Power, Fun House and more. Emceed by SiriusXM’s own John Varvatos and hosted by Henry Rollins, Faction brings this sold-out tribute show to you live from the Michigan Theatre.


  • Wed 4/20 12:00 am ET
  • Sun 4/24 9:00 pm ET
  • Thurs 4/28 8:00 pm ET

See http://www.siriusxm.com/faction for more information.

Iggy’s City – Pop and the Stooges return to Ann Arbor


This article was originally posted on TheOaklandPress.com. Apr 17, 2011, by: Gary Graff

There is a certain amount of machismo associated with Iggy Pop. The guy has been know to bleed for his art, after all — literally, as anybody who’s seen his physical, MMA Extreme Cage Fight-worthy live performances can attest.

But on Tuesday, when Pop and his band, the Stooges, return to their home state to pay tribute to late founding member Ron Asheton, a softer side may well prevail.

“I don’t know what to expect from my inner self that night,” says Pop, who was born James Osterberg in Muskegon and founded the Stooges during 1967 in Ann Arbor with Asheton — who passed away in January of 2009 at age 60 — and his brother, drummer Scott “Rock Action” Asheton. “I’m thankful that’s the one part of me that has not be rehearsed, formatted and interviewed to death — and, hence, is less predictable.”

Pop says that being in the center of Ann Arbor will also strike a sentimental nerve. The Michigan Theater, where the show takes place, is “the same movie house I saw ‘Bambi’ with my mom.” He remembers seeing the Jimi Hendrix Experience play at a bowling alley near the U-M campus and, of course, the early days of the Stooges before the punk rock progenitors signed a recording contract in 1968.

“And, y’know, Ron passed away in the house where he lived when he went to Ann Arbor High,” Pop adds. “I used to go to the house to throw stones at their window and try to wake him up and do some rehearsals in the basement before their mom came home and screamed at us.

“So there’s all that, which I’m sure will cross my mind when we’re doing the show.”

It will be more than a Stooges show as well, with “a couple extra things you don’t normally see, basically, at a Stooges gig” according to Pop. That said, the current version of the band — Pop, Asheton, longtime saxophonist Steve Mackay, latter-day guitarist James Williamson and Mike Watt, who’s been playing bass since the group’s 2003 reunion — plans to kick out the proverbial jams and continuing the celebration it began in 2009 of its landmark 1973 “Raw Power” album (which was released in a special Legacy Edition last year) as well as the Stooges’ 2010 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction.

The extras, however, will make for a truly special kind of night. Stooges devotee Henry Rollins will join the band for “I Got a Right,” while Deniz Tek, the Ann Arbor-born member of Australia’s Radio Birdman and a close friend of Asheton’s, will play an encore set of early Stooges material. Williamson and Pop have crafted an acoustic piece called “Ron’s Tune,” and a group of teen musicians from Ann Arbor’s Neutral Zone teen center will open the show.

And Pop plans to pay homage to another aspect of Asheton’s musicality that’s far different from “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” “No Fun” or “Down on the Street.”

“Some of his best themes always reminded me a lot of … classical music in the 17th century,” Pop explains, “particularly the music that came out of Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Russia, the Ukraine, Poland … which is probably no accident because the (Asheton) family’s blood is half Unkranian. So his stuff always reminded me of the basic themes that inform Bartok or Dvorak.

“So we’ve got an orchestra of Ann Arbor musicians and an Ann Arbor writer and arranger composing on overture of (Asheton’s) themes, and then they’re going to play along with the Stooges on a couple numbers, and also with me.”

Pop credits Asheton’s sister Kathy with keeping the idea of the tribute alive. Some hastily organized shows were put together shortly after Asheton’s death, but while Pop always wanted to do his part he says it was also “something that I didn’t want to do badly. I didn’t want to do a crappy or offhand…some sort of a punk rock wake with a bunch of people competing to see how drunk, outrageous or dirty they could be on a given night.

“So, consequently, it took us awhile.”

The interim allowed the Asheton family to establish the Ron Asheton Foundation, which donates money to charitable causes — particularly music and animal rights and care organizations, since the guitarist was “a grade triple-A animal nut,” according to Pop. “He loved animals, and he fed feral cats, skunks and raccoons all through the winters in Michigan.”

The Stooges did, of course, get to pay tribute to Asheton — who was ranked No. 29 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time — at the Rock Hall induction in March of 2010, where his presence was both felt and missed, according to Pop.

“I think it would have meant a lot to him,” Pop says. “If he was alive, I think he would have really enjoyed the gesture, and I think it would have given him a lot of peace. He was a social, convivial person; he probably would have enjoyed sitting and having a martini after it happened with everyone else.”

The Stooges, meanwhile, have been carrying on in Asheton’s wake. The “Raw Power” reunion put a spotlight on not only one of rock’s most acclaimed album but also a crucial moment in the group’s history, which saw it return from a drug- and ego-induced breakup in 1971 to record again, with Pop eschewing record company requests for him to “get rid of the group” and become a solo artist.

But the Stooges new world order at the time put Williamson — who had played with the Ashetons in a pre-Stooges band called the Chosen Few — on guitar and shifted Ron Asheton to bass, which has long been a source of controversy. “There were some sour grapes later on, I think,” says Williamson, 61. “He always had that feeling he got demoted or something, and that really wasn’t the case. It certainly wasn’t intended that way. He was a fantastic bass player.”

Pop adds that “people underestimate (Asheton’s) contribution on bass on ‘Raw Power. What he had to say on our first two albums is continued on ‘Raw Power,’ and he said it through is bass. It’s just updated and used more subtly.”

While the initial Stooges reunion featured only music from the group’s first two albums, with Asheton on guitar, the current lineup plays songs from all three albums. And there may be new material to play as well; Pop reports that he and Williamson have “about eight things right now that are…sort of complete songs. Maybe some of them need to be more complete or some of them need to be forgotten. And then some of them…just flow right along.” But he doesn’t think the group will record them until next year, when he anticipates having enough material that will be up to the Stooges’ standard.

“It’s really not about the time right now,” he explains. “It’s about the stuff and about the group.”

The Stooges’ September 2010 show at the All Tomorrow’s Party Festival was recently released as “Raw Power Live: In the Hands of the Fans,” while an archival Pop box set “Roadkill Rising: The Bootleg Collection 1977-2009” is due out May 17. Pop, meanwhile, is working on a new solo album, another bilingual project following up 2009’s “Preliminaires” that will feature “no rock songs…just American and French songs, mostly ballads,” including the Beatles “Michelle,” Fred Neil’s “Everybody’s Talkin’ “ and songs by Serge Gainsbourg and Henri Salvadore.

“I’ve recorded most but not all of it” for a release later this year or in early 2012, says Pop, who, after some concentrated Stooges time, is happy for the musical change of pace.

“Honestly, each one is a great relief,” he explains. “There’s just nothing that feels better to me than to go sing, like, ‘What is This Thing Called Love’ by Cole Porter after I’ve been rehearsing ‘Raw Power’ and ‘Search and Destroy’ and ‘Shake Appel’ over and over with the Stooges.

“I mean, the Stooges is some sort of strange, hard-headed youthful energy; it has a kind of bounce to it that’s really nice, but a steady diet of anything is just no good. So, yeah, they really do feed off each other.”


Iggy & the Stooges, with special guests Henry Rollins and Deniz Tek, perform at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Michigan Theater, 603 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor. Tickets are sold out. Proceeds from the concert will go to the Ron Asheton Foundation. Call 734-668-8463 or visit www.michtheater.org.


Iggy Pop says it was “just a gig.” But his guest appearance on the April 13 episode of “American Idol” was a surprise that still has rock fans’ tongues wagging.

“I don’t know what to say about it except that I didn’t know what to expect,” says the Michigan native, who performed Johnny O’Keefe’s “Real Wild Child (Wild One),” which was popularized by Jerry Lee Lewis and was a single for Pop in 1986. I went and did my thing. I enjoyed the band they put together for me and I actually enjoyed singing the song and enjoyed the audience.”

Pop isn’t exactly an “Idol” fan, mind you; “When it first came out, I really, really hated it,” he says. But his opinion “changed over time and I came to respect certain things about it, bit by bit. I began to see if not the good in the format at least the good in the contestants, especially some of the final contestants,” particularly Carrie Underwood and Jennifer Hudson.

And it turns out that Pop was actually contacted by “Idol” executives about possibly being one of the show’s judges for its 10th season.

“It didn’t go very far,” he recalls. “There were two phone calls…I wasn’t sure I was interested or available. They called me…I was curious and we spoke a couple times, and that was as far as that went.

“I don’t think I could’ve done the right job for them on that particular show. I think Steven (Tyler) does a really, really good job of it.”

Iggy & the Stooges tribute concert for Ron Asheton will be uplifting, Scott Asheton promises

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This article was originally posted at www.annarbor.com on Apr 14, 2011, by: Roger LeLievre

Although the 2009 death in Ann Arbor of guitarist Ron Asheton, from the pioneering punk band The Stooges, has been keenly felt throughout the music community, few have experienced the loss as personally as his brother and bandmate Scott Asheton.

“There are certain things you share close with your brother, and now and then I’ll think of something and I’ll think ‘I’ve got to tell Ronnie this,’ then I go ‘Oh s—,’” Scott Asheton said in a recent phone interview from his Florida home. “You get really close and you can talk about things you can’t talk about with other people. I miss that very much, besides the music.”

Asheton will return to his hometown for a sold-out benefit concert and tribute to his brother at the Michigan Theater Tuesday night, organized by his sister Kathy Asheton. The Stooges will headline, and funds raised will go to the Ron Asheton Foundation to benefit local music and animal charities, including the Humane Society of Huron Valley.

“It’s not going to be a somber event. its going to be an uplifting event,” Asheton promised.

Besides Asheton (drums), the band will include Iggy Pop (vocals), Steve Mackay (sax), James Williamson (guitar) and Mike Watt (bass). Deniz Tek, from Radio Birdman, will play Ron Asheton’s guitar parts on some of the songs. Henry Rollins, spoken-word artist and front man of the 1980s punk band Black Flag, will act as M.C., and other special guests have been promised. Expect songs from “The Stooges,” “Fun House,” and “Raw Power.”

“Deniz learned playing the guitar from Ron. Deniz is probably closest to Ron’s style that you will ever hear from another guitar player,” Asheton said.

Formed in 1967 in Ann Arbor, The Stooges, with their primal, energetic sound, are often considered the first punk rock band. Ron Asheton was lead guitarist on the Stooges’ first two albums; for the third, “Raw Power,” he was replaced by Williamson and shifted to bass. Ron Asheton is ranked at No. 29 on Rolling Stone’s list of 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.

Given Ron Asheton’s fondness for his hometown, as well as the fact that The Stooges were founded in Ann Arbor, it’s fitting the concert be held here, his brother said.

“(Ron) loved Ann Arbor very much – it’s the reason he didn’t leave. Everyone else would go to New York or California or Nashville — he was just happy to be in Ann Arbor. … The band started there, that’s where we grew up, where we all went to school — we kicked it off on Halloween in 1968 at a private party — freaked everybody out.”

Although he wasn’t available for an interview, Iggy Pop said in a prepared statement that Ann Arbor was chosen for the benefit, rather than Detroit or another city with larger performance venues, because that’s where “our group, our attitudes and our ideals were forged. It really was the birth of a movement.”

Rollins also chimed in, via e-mail: “The Stooges are one of rock music’s most essential elements. Without The Stooges’ considerable contribution, the punk and independent music scenes that came after would not have been the same. The music of The Stooges is that crucial,” he wrote.

Last year The Stooges were finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a move that was long overdue, Scott Asheton lamented. “I thought they should have done it earlier … it just came one year too late. I have (Ron’s) statuette sitting on my mantle next to mine,” he said.

Asheton, who continues to tour with Iggy and the Stooges, acknowledged it’s still difficult to be on the road without his big brother.

“The first year — last year — was really hard for me. But you’ve got to go on. We’re playing a lot of the ‘Raw Power’ stuff and Ron did play on that. … I always think of him when we play those songs. he was one of my favorite bass players. I thought he did a great job on that album.”

Asheton recalled his brother as a gentle man who loved music, old movies and animals.

“He was really big on taking in stray cats,” Asheton said. “If he had too many and they couldn’t be in the house, he’d build them outdoor shelters, put blankets over the shelters so they could stay warm in the snow. He put food out for them. He once told me liked animals more than he liked people.”

Ron Asheton was into all kinds of entertainment, his brother remembered.:
“When we were first starting out I can remember him getting in his rocking chair and putting on The Beatles or the Stones for hours and hours. When he was done with that, he’d find classic movies on TV and he’d watch them for hours and hours. He knew that was his place, to be with what he loved the most.”

The concert will be “a celebration of his life — film, art and, of course, all the music. … I know there are going to be moments with me that will be hard. That’s just the way it is. I’m sure Ron would appreciate (the show) very much, I’m sure he would think of it as a good thing.”
Asheton had one last comment to make, before bringing the interview to a close.

“I just want people to know I am very proud of my brother’s name. Most of the time, in interviews and print, I was always referred to as Ron Asheton’s brother. I am very proud of that,” he said.

Roger LeLievre is a freelance writer who covers music for AnnArbor.com.

The Stooges perform in 2007, with Ron Asheton on guitar:

Stooge Power. Metro Times interview with Iggy Pop


Guitar hero Ron Asheton is gone but never forgotten, and his former bandmates honor him in the only way they know how.

This article was originally posted at http://metrotimes.com/music/stooge-power-1.1131623. By Brett Callwood PUBLISHED: APRIL 13, 2011

On April 19, Iggy & the Stooges will play a benefit in Ann Arbor for late and loved guitarist Ron Asheton, who died in January 2009 at his Ann Arbor home. The reference to the band as “Iggy & the Stooges” is to differentiate from “The Stooges,” a band with a sound defined as much by Ron’s distinctive guitar style as by the rock star incarnate Iggy Pop. With James Williamson back on guitar (and Mike Watt continuing on bass and therefore filling the shoes of both Ron Asheton and Dave Alexander), the surviving members of the Raw Power lineup of the band are together.

The benefit promises to be a special occasion: It’s the first time that Iggy & the Stooges played the area since the infamous Metallic KO show, but the fact it’s a benefit for Ron Asheton in the city that Ronnie loved enough to never leave raises poignancy levels to the sky. It’ll be emotional for everyone, sure, though spare a thought for Ron’s brother, Stooges drummer Scott Asheton, a man of few words who will speak through his kit on the night.

Iggy Pop rarely struggles for something to say. It’s been said many times, but he’s charming, incredibly funny, razor-sharp, and blunt. He’s playing this benefit, organized by Ron and Scott’s sister Kathy Asheton, because it’s the right thing to do. He admits that the evening has taken on extra significance, but he’s not afraid to also say that it’s just a gig. He freely admits that his relationship with Ron was, at times, strained, but he says it with resigned affection, like he’s talking about an annoying brother.

One thing’s certain. When the Stooges hit the stage, Ronnie won’t be visible but his spirit will absolutely be there.

Metro Times: You’re bringing the Stooges home, but under the circumstances it must feel a little strange. How did you set about planning the benefit?

Iggy Pop: With benefits like this that I’ve been involved with in the past, I’ve been embarrassed by the low level of entertainment value. It’s always for the same reason. They become an excuse for a general pile-on. It becomes indulgent for all the musicians involved who have a great party backstage, but the audience dies a death because there are interminable set changes and half the equipment doesn’t work. Everybody’s got different techs. It goes on and on and on, and you get one guest who you want, and then three want to play that you can’t say no to. We just went around that whole thing. This is more about the Stooges, and then some stage associates that we’ve chosen.

MT: Justly, Ronnie will be the night’s focus. But are you excited to be bringing James Williamson back to a home crowd?

Pop: Yes, obviously. You’re quite right, it’s in Ron’s memory but it is a gig. It’s just one that we’re not taking any money for. That’s all. The tickets sold out in an hour or two. That was a surprise. I thought it might just be people who remember me as a kid, when I ran my car into their front yard. That’s cool. I am excited. I’m looking forward to playing in that particular venue. It’s the kind of venue I love, where there’s a low stage, there’s no silly crowd barricades (unless Live Nation have changed that in their wisdom). I saw Jack White there in one of his incarnations a few years ago, and it’s just you and the peeps. That’s really good. I’m still trying to figure it all out. I’m going to be singing with the Stooges, and then I’m going to be singing a couple of numbers with some Stooges and also Deniz Tek from Radio Birdman on guitar. Those songs will probably also be with an orchestra. There are going to be several orchestral elements to this thing, including a kind of symphonically slanted overture based on Ron’s works. This was always my idea, but there won’t be too much of it because one of the virtues of Stooge music is that we don’t make too much of it.

Also, I know that people, myself included, expect us to do what we do, which is to kick in doors. Having said that, I felt more and more as time went on that Ron’s big pieces — the riffs from “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” “No Fun” and “TV Eye” in particular, those themes are getting around the culture. I wanted to have a little fun expounding those. Those are some of the songs that he put his particularly beautiful touch on.

Just by serendipity, a guy has been reaching out to me by post from a teen center in Ann Arbor called the Neutral Zone. He’s been sending me letters to the effect of “What can you do with us or for us?” He mentioned that they have a music program and I saw pictures of kids playing in their music space. I’d been to Ann Arbor a few years ago to rehearse with the guys and I realized that it had grown exponentially since I was there. It had changed a little bit and there was more of the typical American troubled kid thing than had existed before — I was the first [laughs]. The Stooges were the first four troubled youths in the Ann Arbor area, or the first to open our mouths about it. I thought it’d be kind of cool to get them to throw a band together. The guy offered to put together a band with some of the people in their music program. It’s going to be the teen openers, and if they haven’t got anybody who can sing decently, I may have to sing with them too. Hopefully, there’s some little savage there who can totally rip it up, in which case I can stick to my own bit.

So we’re doing that. I may do a couple of acoustic numbers, just James and I. There’s one we wrote, which is kind of a requiem to Ron. That was something James sent me shortly after Ron passed away. We screwed around with it a little and I wrote words for it. There’s also a song called “No Sense of Crime” that we occasionally do acoustic, off of Kill City. It sort of relates to certain things. Those are things that we may do.

The main thing we’re gonna do is that we’ll play: me, Watt, James, Rock and Steve, and we’ll play what we do — songs fromRaw Power, Fun House and The Stooges.

MT: Was the decision to play in Ann Arbor rather than Detroit deliberate?

Pop: It was deliberate only in the way that it developed. It came from Kathy Asheton, who was one of three siblings with whom I grew pretty close at a certain time. She is behind this, and she was just the Asheton that didn’t play. At the time it was like, “You can’t play — you’re a chick.” If we were starting the group now, I probably would never have sang. We probably would have recruited her. Basically, she was one of the gang, although we weren’t spending as much time with her. We go back. It was her idea to do this, and she kept at it and kept at it. It was her idea to do it in Ann Arbor. I raised my eyebrows but the more I thought about it the more sense it made. I wouldn’t say it was deliberate to keep it out of Detroit and it wasn’t my idea, it was Kathy’s. As it developed, it made more sense to do it in Ann Arbor. I didn’t see any sense in thrusting it into the city of Detroit or the suburbs. Where are you gonna do it? Bloomfield Hills? [laughs] I’d have all these mid-level tech executives in Bloomfield Hills high-fiving me. I get that a lot from the tech executives. “IGGY — HIGH FIVE!” That’s fine. Right on, techy.

No, I thought that was a cool idea. All the seats are sold out so it must have worked out.

MT: It will obviously be an emotional occasion. Is it still weird playing without Ronnie?

Pop: It’s weird for Scott, mostly on the songs Ron played. It’ll noticeably point itself out on that particular night, but most nights we just get on with it. I do notice that James does a real good job with the numbers that Ron played on. There’s nobody else in the world who could do them justice like he does. They all go back. He and Ron went through the Chosen Few, which was the high school band of Scott Richardson from the SRC. James was another troubled youth that I worked with. I was the only one that bothered to go through high school and all of that. I always was very aware that this is a different guy playing the songs when he does those numbers. He does them as himself without injecting himself into them. I love his playing. So, no, it’s not weird. But I imagine that the presence will be strong on that particular evening.

MT: People here are excited to see you with James again, but Ronnie was so beloved in Detroit and Ann Arbor; he’ll never be forgotten.

Pop: Ron was a person of great charm and wit. He was a very, very funny guy and a very charming guy, and I just don’t know anyone who didn’t love him. Having said that, he drove me fucking nuts. It was mutual. He’d be like “Oh fuck, not Pop again. I’m not going to pick up [the phone].” That’s different. We had a lot of feelings for each other. But he was one of those people. Some people say “gentle giant.” I saw that somewhere and it’s not far off.

MT: What would he have made of all this fuss?

Pop: Oh, Jesus, I don’t know. That’s a tough one. If you ask me if I’d want this, I’d say no. God, no, please let me be allowed to pass away in private. The Stooges subdivision, the subdivision that the whole band came from except me, it was a planned community including and immediately adjacent to its own cemetery. The cemetery abuts onto the house where Ron was living, and was found on the night of his death. I’m sure that’s where Dave [Alexander] is and that’s where Ron is. As far as what would he have thought, I think I covered it at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. If he was looking down, I think he’d be throwing lit cigarettes down on us all, and making sly comments to Dave while they watch TV in heaven and have another beer. I don’t know if it’s any different for this one. He was a huge, huge lover of the state of Michigan. Fiercely pro-Michigan. Very pro-Ann Arbor and pro his subdivision. So I think he’d feel this was right on. Put it that way.

MT: Talking of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Alice Cooper got in …

Pop: I think he is a good choice. I remember more the Alice Cooper Group. They trod great ground and then Alice went on to have great success. He’s shown everybody that he’s one hell of a pro, and a gentleman. He’s kept it up and kept it alive, and he deserves a lot of credit for that.

MT: You’ve chosen Henry Rollins to emcee the benefit …

Pop: Ron got a big kick out of Henry. He liked Henry very much, and there was a group of people that were supportive of Ron’s career at a key time, that culminated in the band reuniting. That was Thurston Moore [Sonic Youth], Henry, Mike Watt and J Mascis [Dinosaur Jr]. Henry’s always been a champ, he’s always been accessible … There’s nobody quite like him. Since there’s more than just a straight-band show to this, I wanted to bring in a talented, smooth pro to run the thing along. I’ve talked to him briefly, but he can tell jokes, and do what he does. Also, he does a skit about doing gigs with me and trying to blow me down. I always thought that was pretty funny, so he’s going to front the Stooges for one song. I think that’s cool because he’s always liked the band. That’s that. If there are things to be articulated, and of course there are, he has a lot of wisdom in that direction. Plus, he volunteered. He’s free.

MT: So can you remember the last time you played Detroit or Ann Arbor with James in the band?

Pop: That would have been the Michigan Palace. The infamous Metallic KO gig.

MT: I imagine this one will be less eventful …

Pop: [laughs]. You never know. We’ll see what we can do.

Iggy & the Stooges play a sold-out show on Tuesday, April 19, at the Michigan Theater, 603 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor; 734-668-8397.

> Email Brett Callwood

Kathy Asheton interview with Martin Bandyke


Organizer Kathy Asheton speaks about the Stooges’ homecoming tribute to Ron Asheton

You can also read this entire article by Martin Bandyke “Freelance Entertainment Writer” over at AnnArbor.com.

A founding member of the Stooges, guitarist Ron Asheton left this world far, far too soon when he passed away at his Ann Arbor home in January of 2009. Only 60 when he died, Asheton will long be remembered for his primal and powerful work on the Stooges’ 1969 self-titled debut album and 1970 follow-up “Fun House,” take-no-prisoners garage rock which set the stage for the punk movement and influenced countless other musicians.
On April 19, Iggy & the Stooges will be bringing it all back home to Ann Arbor, the city where they formed, when they pay tribute to Ron Asheton in a one-off performance at the Michigan Theater. On stage that night will be Iggy Pop (vocals), Ron’s brother Scott Asheton (drums), Steve Mackay (sax), James Williamson (guitar), and Mike Watt (bass); along with special guests including MC Henry Rollins. Hope you scored your tickets already, as the show took all of an hour to sell out. Proceeds will benefit the newly formed Ron Asheton Foundation.

Tribute concert organizer Kathy Asheton recently spoke to me about what promises to be an extraordinary and extraordinarily emotional evening devoted to her dear brother Ron.

Q. So how did this concert all come together?

A. The idea came about because of wanting to start a foundation for Ron. I asked Jim (Iggy Pop) if he would perform and said that he was more than happy to help out. Some time went by and then I got the idea to put it into motion, and of course we thought it would have to happen in Ann Arbor. My thinking was that it would also be a tribute to Ron and a celebration of him, and would include friends that hadn’t had a chance to pay respects to him. So it was a combination of having his friends involved and kicking off the foundation.

Q. What is the Ron Asheton Foundation and who will it benefit?

A. The foundation is primarily for animals and musicians, Ronnie’s two biggest passions. It was also to continue his legacy, to keep his life going, to keep things going that he cared about. He did a lot of donation work to the Humane Societies, so that will be primarily our function. But we’re kind of the little guy; we’re obviously not a humane society but we’ll kind of pick up the slack as well as working with some of the societies and shelters. We have a dog adoption plan that we will put in effect, plus we’ll be awarding scholarships to help the music community — scholarships to music programs in schools, supplementing instruments, things like that.

Q. How did Henry Rollins, the spoken-word artist and ex-leader of hardcore punk band Black Flag, get on board the event?

A. Henry Rollins came up because I thought it would be nice to have an MC and also because he was a huge fan and a good friend of Ronnie’s. He had wanted to do the induction (of the Stooges) for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but the people in power there didn’t want him, so I thought this would be a way for him to get involved. He’ll serve as our host for the evening as well as do his own tribute to Ronnie. He’s got a couple little pieces planned for that. He’s the one who’s going to tie our show together.

Q. What can you tell us about some of the other guests who will be participating at the tribute concert?

A. We decided to make the show pretty much all Ronnie’s music, and that’s where Deniz Tek came in. He’s from the band Radio Birdman and a very dear lifelong friend of Ronnie’s and he’s going to, if you will, play the part of Ronnie. He’ll play his parts on some of his songs.
Ron also loved classical music and I thought that it be cool to get an orchestra to play along with some songs — punk rock and classical music together. I had to set about to find a composer and everything just fell into place. I found this guy who is just awesome: Mark Nilan. He’s from the Detroit area, classically trained, and he’s also a jazz guy who’s played with jazz bands forever. I gave him some of the Stooges songs and he mocked up the string parts in his studio. So he will be our conductor the night of the show, and the strings will play with Deniz Tek, Iggy will be singing, and Scotty and the rest of the band will be playing and there will be the songs from Ronnie’s first two albums (“The Stooges” and “Fun House”).

Q. Can you give me a memory of your brother that you’re most fond of? What memory of him makes you smile the most?

A. There’s so many, but one is the Lollapalooza show that the Stooges did back in ‘07 in Chicago. That was the first big festival that I went to. I saw them play at the DTE Energy (reunion concert in 2003), and it was surreal to see them up there playing. But at Lollapalooza I had time to spend with him before and after the show, and it was Ronnie at peace. He was so happy and content with everything and to see him play on this huge giant stage at Lollapalooza was just great. I was so full of pride just watching my big brother. I’m happy they all achieved success in their later years and all of them were just astounded by the reaction they got around the world. I was just so full of pride.

Q. I remember meeting Ron many decades ago at a club in Detroit, and he came across as being rather quiet and very polite — not at all like the loud, aggressive music he played. Did I get the right impression?

A. He was a very non-assuming, teddy bear of a guy. He had a place he went to up north and kept a low profile; he never flaunted his fame. In fact he was humbled by it, and to remind himself he would say out loud, as a private joke, “I’m a musician, I’m really doing this!” We moved here in ‘63 and he loved it here; he was a hometown boy. I miss him a lot it and it’ll be very hard not having Ronnie at the Michigan Theater.

Martin Bandyke is the 6-10am morning drive host at Ann Arbor’s 107.1, WQKL-FM. Follow him on Twitter and at martinbandyke.com

“The Stooges are one of Rock music’s most essential elements” – Henry Rollins


“The Stooges are one of Rock music’s most essential elements. Without the Stooges considerable contribution, the Punk and Independent music scenes that came after would not have been the same. The music of the Stooges is that crucial. In the decades since their release, the Stooges albums have not lost an ounce of speed and remain constants in my listening.

In the beginning of 2009, Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton passed away. While family, friends, band members and fans all over the world mourned the loss, no formal tribute was made. So, on April 19 in Ann Arbor MI, we address that. The Stooges, with James Williamson and Deniz Tek on guitar, will play. It’s going to be a great and memorable night.

I can’t wait for the show! To see the Stooges play in Michigan will really be something. I am honored to be a part of the evening’s proceedings. “

Henry Rollins

Martin Bandyke


Kathy Asheton and Lee Berry on the radio with Martin Bandyke 9am Thursday, March 10

The Martin Bandyke Program

Mon-Fri 6am-10am

107 one WQKL

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