The Stooges’ Legendary Punk Drummer Scott Asheton Passes Away at 64
Scott Asheton, the legendary drummer for the Detroit punk band the Stooges, passed away on Sunday at the age of 64. Scott and his guitarist brother Ron formed the backbone of the Stooges’ influential style that helped bridge the gap from the psychedelia of the 1960s to the punk movement of the 1970s. Ron died in 2009, and singer Iggy Pop is now the last surviving member of the band’s original line-up.
The Stooges’ self-titled first album, released in 1969, is often cited as being the very first punk record. Scott Asheton’s pounding but simple drum style behind Ron Asheton’s distinctive fuzzed-out guitar provided the foundation for Pop’s unique voice and bizarre performance techniques. Musicians including David Bowie, the Ramones, and Nirvana have all said the Stooges were a huge influence on their work.
“Scott was a great artist, I have never heard anyone play the drums with more meaning than Scott Asheton. He was like my brother. He and Ron have left a huge legacy to the world. The Ashetons have always been and continue to be a second family to me,” Iggy Pop said in a statement on his Facebook page.
Asheton was active in music outside the Stooges as well. After the Stooges’ initial breakup in 1974 caused by Pop’s drug use as well as other factors, Asheton went on to play in other Detroit-based groups Sonic’s Rendezvous Band and Scots Pirates with close friend Scott Morgan, formerly of the Rationals.
“I met Scott and his brother Ron at Forsythe junior high school, and he and his family had moved to Ann Arbor from Iowa so we had something in common right away. We started hanging around the same circles, people who were into the same music. I was in The Rationals at the time, during that period they formed The Stooges and started getting serious as professional musicians. Then The Stooges became successful and the The Rationals broke up, and then The Stooges broke up, but all this time Scott and I kept in touch because we both lived in Ann Arbor,” Morgan said in an emailed statement to Wall St. Cheat Sheet.
“So when the Stooges broke up I had started working with Fred Smith because the MC5 had broken up. We needed a good drummer and Scott just left the Stooges, so it was me and Scott and Fred about a year later, around ’75. That was the band that became the long-term Sonic’s Rendezvous Band. Finally in 1980 Sonic’s Rendezvous broke up, then Scott and I got together again and made three albums as Scots Pirates, so we remained friends for the rest of his life.”
Asheton had been struggling with illness for the past several years and couldn’t participate in the Stooges’ recent tours, although he did play on the most recent album Ready to Die last year. Musicians including the Black Keys, Henry Rollins, Juliette Lewis, Flea, and others paid tribute to the drummer on social media.
Cause of death has not yet been determined. Asheton is survived by his wife, Elizabeth; his daughter, Leanna; and his sister, Kathleen.
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