As a founding member of the legendary Stooges, guitarist Ron Asheton forever changed the face of rock & roll, his raw, primordial riffs presaging the rise of punk by a decade. Born July 17, 1948, in Washington, D.C., he first surfaced in the teen band the Dirty Shames before joining the Iggy Pop-led Stooges in 1967; the Ann Arbor, MI-based group made its live debut on Halloween of that year, earning immediate notoriety for its frighteningly intense live presence and blistering, primitivist sound. Although celebrated in certain underground circles, the band -- also including Asheton's drummer brother Scott and bassist Dave Alexander -- was otherwise almost universally reviled, but still was signed by Elektra to record its self-titled 1969 debut LP; the album sold poorly, as did its successors (1970's Fun House and 1973's Raw Power), but the Stooges' long-term impact was incalculable -- in effect, their aggressive, take-no-prisoners approach laid the groundwork for the emergence of punk.
After the Stooges disintegrated in the wake of Raw Power's commercial failure, the Asheton siblings formed the short-lived New Order, issuing a self-titled LP on RCA in 1978; Ron next surfaced in the famed Detroit cult outfit Destroy All Monsters, who were briefly darlings of the British music press on the strength of punk-era singles like "Bored" and "Meet the Creeper." In 1981, he joined ex-Radio Birdman members Deniz Tek and Rob Younger in their underground supergroup the New Race, recording the live LP The First and the Last; quiet for the better part of the decade that followed, Asheton returned to active musical duty during the mid-'90s, recording Thin, Slim & None with the Empty Set while also teaming with fellow Destroy All Monsters alum Niagara to release The Last Great Ride under the name Dark Carnival. He also teamed with Mudhoney's Mark Arm, Mike Watt, and Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore and Steve Shelley in the one-off project the Wilde Rattz, recording a handful of tracks for 1998's glam rock-era film drama Velvet Goldmine. The Stooges, including Asheton on guitar, reunited in the early 2000s, touring extensively and releasing a new studio album, The Weirdness, in 2007. Asheton was found dead in his Ann Arbor home on January 6, 2009, having died of an apparent heart attack several days earlier. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi