Saturday, January 10, 2009

Ron Asheton 3: Danny Fields on Ron Asheton

If people got paid to be cool Danny Fields would be richer than Bill Gates. Danny Fields is the man who discovered the Stooges, the MC5, Ramones, and much, much, more. This was originally written in response to something that ran in a U.K. newspaper whose writer in his obit of Ron Asheton criticised Ron for collecting Nazi memorabilia (nobody ever bothers Chris Stein of Blondie about his collection....). Also they ran a second piece about Kathy Asheton, Ron's sister having to have police posted outside Ron's house to keep the scavengers away, so that is what he is referring to. It ran as a comment on a bulletin board which didn't accept photos so that's what he's writing about in the first paragraph. The photo of Danny and Ron was taken at Max's Kansas City in 1973 (I have other photos that Danny took that night where you can see Nitebob stage side but can't seem to find 'em at the moment). Thanks for letting me run this, Danny, you're a prince. The footage is from the Goosecreek Rock Fest, 1970, Dave Alexander's last gig, I added it Sunday, Jan. 11th. I'd have posted it sooner if I'd had known about it (it's from French Youtube). I wanted to put in a picture of me and Ron at Max's Kansas City, in New York, in 1973, but this space won't allow me to, and so I lost everything I just wrote. He's wearing an Eisenkreuze First Class, and I had a pack of Marlboros in my pocket. I ask you now which was more cool. Anyhow, Ron was so sweet, and this stuff is all so tacky. Yes, the press likes a fight among survivors when people die who were not quite headline-makers during their lifetimes, although Ron himself made headlines indeed in all those who loved rock and roll in its last golden age. He INVENTED the sound of rock and roll as we now know it. People who were appalled in 1968, if they are still alive, now accept the mighty contribution made by Ron Asheton and the Stooges as part of their lives. Some variation of what these guys invented is in just about every tv commercial now on the air; a weird kind of vindication, I know, but it usually takes "the world" a good 30 or 40 years to recognize something revolutionary as something that is acceptable, even quotidien. We all knew the music these guys made was EXTREMELY advanced for its time; that includes many of my colleagues back in 1968, at Elektra Records, to which I signed the band (after a phone chat with the company's president, Jac Holzman, about 18 hours after the first time I ever saw them). Remember that putatively Platonic (literally, first said by Plato) thing that went: When the mode of the music changes, the walls of the city shake? Well, the origin of that opinion is often argued, but the truth of it is not, ever. And the "Psychedelic Stooges" certainly changed the mode of the music; the Ramones, for example, who changed it again later on in the very same evolutionary process, met each other because they were the only guys in the neighborhood who liked the Stooges albums, and so they gathered in Joey's mother's art gallery's basement to listen to it. It was the anthem of outcasts, that music, just as "I Wanna Be Your Dog" became the anthem of the so-called punk (I prefer to think of it as simply modern, the "p" word [punk, not psychedelic, but maybe both] is rather overexposed and simultaneously misunderstood. Modern will do, because the music is STILL ahead of OUR time, not to mention how despised it was 40 years ago. Today, anybody auditioning for a place in a band where a guitarist or bassist is needed, must own his or her take on "Dog." It was the first song the Sex Pistols learned and played in public, and so on and so on. By the way, please all be assured that Ron's fascination with Nazi memorabilia made him a Nazi about as much as seeing yet another version of "Dracula" will make you into a vampire, and do give that canard a rest. I wish y'all could have seen some of those leather trenchcoats he had, you'd be eating your hearts out, whatever your religion or politics--with which Ron's great taste had nothing, as far as I could tell, to do. Nevertheless, that sound it is the preferred vehicle for tv commercials (meaning that all songs should really be under thirty seconds long, but we needn't go into my quirkier opinions at this point.. Whatever, I am so proud of that band, of knowing those guys, of giving them a leg up (as if someone else would not have the next week or month), of being able to hug them all lo these many years later (one would prefer NOT to show pictures of THAT) but I can post the one where we were all younger and cuter if someone tells me how.) And so proud of that music; it will always be great. I thought Bach must have sounded like that to listeners in the 18th century, but let me outta here. This squalid quibbling about loading his guitars and Nazi medals into a truck is so beneath everything that matters. I'm sure Ron would have preferred a puzzling and clever murder, something like Colonel Mustard in the Library; though I'm not implying that he would have welcomed being murdered, or of finding the Colonel and sending him to the gallows. Still, I'm sure he would have preferred something like THAT to something like THIS. He had you know, besides the grace and talent of an angel, a super sense of humor. His loss is so sad, for art and for humanity. May he astonish the angels as he astonished us. What a beautiful guy. Peace and/or butchery, whatever, Danny Fields
Addendum To Today's Post: John Waters' Advice To Obama:


Anonymous said...

" if someone else would not have the next week or month..."

But then they might've gotten signed to Mercury or Dot or some other loser label! And never had Cale produce them! And some idiot at the label probably would've put the kibosh on it ever coming out!

We owe you, Danny Fields! Thanks, man!!!

Jarrod Dicker said...

Check out my three part interview with Danny that took place throughout random dates in August... Amazing man.

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