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Scott Asheton, founding Stooges drummer, dies at 64

Scott Asheton, the rhythmic anchor of the Stooges and a godfather of punk rock, died Saturday of unspecified causes. He was 64.

Asheton’s death was made public by Iggy Pop, now the sole surviving founding member of the Stooges, a group whose aggressiveness and divisiveness would in the late '60s and early '70s lay the foundation for punk and alternative rock. The Stooges’ most recent publicity firm, Nasty Little Man, also acknowledged Asheton’s death.

“Scott was a great artist. I have never heard anyone play the drums with more meaning than Scott Asheton,” said Iggy Pop in a statement he posted on his official Facebook page. “He was like my brother. He and Ron have left a huge legacy to the world. The Asheton's have always been and continue to be a second family to me.”

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The Stooges’ initial run was brief. The Stooges emerged out of Ann Arbor, Mich., in late 1967 and would flame out by 1974, but Pop’s explosive personality and the band’s anything-goes aggressiveness defined a brand of rock 'n' roll where emotion, attitude and experimentation were paramount. The band reunited in 2003, appearing as triumphant icons on the main stage at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

Scott Asheton was born on Aug. 16, 1949, in Washington, D.C. When he was 14, his family relocated to Ann Arbor, Mich., where he and his older brother Ron, a guitarist, would eventually meet Jim Osterberg, better known by his stage name Iggy Pop. Along with bassist Dave Alexander, who would die in 1975, the quartet would become known as the Stooges, a group that used the blues as a starting point for primal hard rock.

Though audiences didn’t always know what to make of the Stooges’ on-stage antics, whose frontman sometimes had a confrontational relationship with the audience, the group signed with Elektra Records and released its debut album, “The Stooges,” in 1969. Pop had a reputation for cutting himself on stage, and the Stooges’ rhythmic approach was equally unconventional. Household appliances were game to be turned into instruments, as were amplified oil drums.

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The Stooges released a second album, “Fun House,” in 1970, which added free jazz saxophones to the mix. The album was a sales flop, and the group split from Elektra Records. The band underwent some lineup swaps and seemed to be floundering but hung together for a third album, 1973’s “Raw Power,” produced by David Bowie. The group disbanded the following year.

The reunited Stooges released two proper studio albums, but had their share of ups and downs. Ron Asheton died in 2009. Since 2011, Scott Asheton's time with the group had been intermittent, as various medical issues limited his ability to tour.  

Pop wrote that Asheton is survived by his wife Liz, daughter Leanna and sister Kathy.

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