Scott Asheton: Drummer with Iggy Pop and the Stooges, Detroit wildmen who 'created punk rock before the genre even had a name'

When Iggy Pop and the Stooges were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010, the statement that the group "created punk-rock well before the genre even had a name" was no exaggeration. Formed by Pop, the original self-destructive frontman, guitarist Ron Asheton, his younger brother Scott on drums and their friend Dave Alexander on bass, the Stooges unleashed the most primal garage rock with their eponymous debut in August 1969.

The Stooges and their 1970 follow-up Fun House went against the hippie grain and failed to find an audience at the time but influenced performers like David Bowie, who championed them and mixed their third album, Raw Power (1973). They also inspired the next wave of back-to-basics American bands, particularly the New York Dolls, the Dictators and the Ramones. The Stooges' repertoire and outré behaviour then provided the blueprint for British punk-rock groups like the Damned, the Sex Pistols –who cut "No Fun'' from The Stooges for the B-side of their third single "Pretty Vacant" in July 1977 – and Penetration, the County Durham band formed by Pauline Murray in 1976, who were named after a Raw Power track.

Born in Washington in 1949, 13 months after his brother Ron (obituary, 8 January 2009), Scott Asheton was raised in Ann Arbor, near Detroit. His father died while he was in his teens. Their mother bought them Beatles and Rolling Stones records and presented Ron with a Honda 305 motorbike which he sold to finance a trip to the UK with Alexander in 1965.

They saw The Who cause mayhem at the Cavern in Liverpool, a pivotal experience for Ron, who joined a cover band, the Chosen Few, and then played in the Prime Movers alongside James Osterberg, soon to acquire the name Iggy Pop, on drums. Like his brother and Alexander, Scott Asheton was thrown out of high school for drinking and fighting, and hung out at Discount Records, where Pop worked.

As the Stooges they rehearsed at the Ashetons' house and debuted at the Grande Ballroom in Detroit in 1968, opening for the MC5. Their short set was more performance art than music: as well as playing feedback guitar, Ron Asheton miked up a blender and a vacuum cleaner, while Scott banged 50-gallon oil drums with hammers. "People didn't know what to think. John Sinclair, the MC5's manager, was just standing there with his mouth wide open," said Scott. "That was the master plan: knock down the walls and blow people's shit away."

In September 1968 they again supported the MC5, and attracted the attention of Danny Fields, a talent scout from Elektra. Ostensibly there to sign the MC5, he also gave a deal to the Stooges, "their baby brother group."

They recorded their self-titled first album in New York with John Cale producing. It contained "1969'' and "I Wanna Be Your Dog'', which became staples of their incendiary stage set, as did "Down On The Street'' and "T.V. Eye'' from Fun House.

The Stooges then were a shambolic, if memorable, live act, as immortalised in Midsummer Rock, filmed at the Cincinnati Pop Festival in June 1970. "Iggy started doing stuff to himself. That's where that famous photo where he's walking on people's hands was taken. He broke out the peanut butter and started smearing it all over himself," said Scott. But the group was heavily into drugs, with Ron the only one not using heroin. Scott was so high that he drove the band's rented truck through the roof of a bridge in Ann Arbor, injuring Pop and two roadies and damaging their equipment. Elektra dropped them and Scott went back to Michigan.

Bowie had introduced Pop and his new songwriting partner, the guitarist James Williamson, to his manager Tony DeFries, who helped get them a new deal with CBS. By autumn 1972 Pop and Williamson were in a London studio and called on the Ashetons to help record Raw Power, with Ron switching to bass and the powerful Scott on drums again. "We were put in a sideman position in our own band," he said.

Nevertheless, the Ashetons enjoyed themselves in the UK, and hung out with Lou Reed, then making Transformer in London. Yet Raw Power only made the lower reaches of the US charts and Iggy & the Stooges were let go by both DeFries and CBS in 1974.

Scott Asheton rejoined Pop in 1978 to help out on a European tour, but mostly concentrated on other projects including Sonic's Rendezvous Band, led by the former MC5 guitarist Fred Smith. In 2000, Scott and Ron Asheton teamed up with the Dinosaur Jr mainman J Mascis and the Minutemen bassist Mike Watt and started performing Stooges material with occasional help from other devotees like Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream. The Ashetons contributed to Skull Ring, Pop's 2003 album, which paved the way for a full-blown Stooges reunion.

In August 2005 they made triumphant appearances at the Reading and Leeds Festivals and gave a riotous performance of Fun House at Hammersmith Apollo. In 2007 came a fourth studio album, The Weirdness. Following Ron's death, Williamson returned and the Stooges continued, though Scott curtailed his touring commitments after a severe stroke in 2011. He recovered enough to make Ready To Die, the last Stooges album, issued last year, but was replaced by Larry Mullins – aka Toby Dammit – on the road.

Scott Asheton, drummer and songwriter: born Washington 16 August 1949; married (one daughter); died 15 March 2014.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
Life and Style
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions