RIP Ron Asheton

 Posted by
Jan 062009

Sad rock news.


  22 Responses to “RIP Ron Asheton”

  1. bummer!

  2. Mr. Moderator

    Few have done more with a fuzz box and minimal chops.

  3. sammymaudlin

    First song I learned to play was No Fun. Mr. Mod taught me barre chords over the phone.

    RIP Ron Asheton.

    Long live fuzz boxes and minimal chops!

  4. hrrundivbakshi

    Ron Asheton is still a touchstone for a number of cautionary tales I tell clients about about over-production — in the sense that I point to Ron and the Stooges as examples of how amazing music can sound with essentially *no* attention paid to production detail.

    RIP, indeed.

  5. saturnismine


    the “sound [of] essentially *no* attention paid to production detail” is an aesthetic that requires more attention to detail than you might think.

  6. hrrundivbakshi

    Well, that may be true sometimes, Sat — but sometimes (as in the case of the Stooges, and specifically “Fun House”) it isn’t. I mean, you can’t tell me the Chess producers labored over the classic Chuck Berry recordings, obssessively placing and re-placing 15 different mics on the bass drum to get that magical sound you hear in “I’m Talkin’ ‘Bout You.” More likely, the drummer walked in with a clapped-out bass drum that had been through a rainstorm, the pedal broke so they had to build one out of a timpani mallet and the pedal leftovers, and they stuck a radio announcer’s mic in front of it. Roll tape!

  7. saturnismine

    nah…the scenario you describe is how you get lousy recordings. that first stooges album is NOT a lousy recording. it’s a great recording. those are sounds that you have to twiddle nobs (on amps AND consoles AND compressors), tune drums, and place mics the right way in order to get…just like any of the seemingly more labored sounds.

    in other words, you have to want to sound like that. recording equipment doesn’t sound like that on its own.

    i’m surprised i have to tell you this. remember the conversation we had at the red and black?

    you were basically talking about how hard it is to achieve something so deceptively simple sounding.

  8. hrrundivbakshi

    Nah… the scenario *you* describe is one where you’re painstakingly *trying* to sound lo-fi/authentic/period/whatever, which can be done, but takes a lot of work. What *I*’m trying to explain to clients is that the lo-fi magic they love on recordings like “Fun House” or whatever didn’t happen because of painstaking knob twiddling. It happened because the stars lined up, the producer had an open mind, and the band tore a new hole in the studio roof. I mean, the Stooges thing is a matter of record, I believe. Producer dude set the band up in a room, miked everything pretty basically, then (and this is my favorite part) gave Iggy an SM57 plugged into a gigundo amp stack, then miked the amp stack with a 57 or some similar, and let tape roll. No futzing. The fact that it doesn’t sound like total shit (and in a certain way it absolutely does sound like total shit) is a question for the rock gods — and for ourselves, as we stand back and wonder *why* it sounds so good.

    Another perspective on this thing: you couldn’t mic Steely Dan like that and not have it sound like crap; conversely, recording the Stooges like “Aja” would’ve made them sound like idiots.

    So, yes, simplicity is hard to *achieve* — it either takes the exact right combination of talent, timing, material, luck, etc.; OR a shitload of work. If a client were to ask me to make them sound like the Stooges, ca. 1970, because it sounds so wild and effortless and carefree… and they *weren’t* the Stooges, and it *wasn’t* 1970, I’d tell them it’s probably a fool’s errand.

    Well, I might not tell them, but I’d sure be thinking it.

    (And, yes, I know, producer dude made the Stooges play each song llike 50 times until he got the take he wanted, so it wasn’t effortless. But we’re talking about *sound* here, mainly.)

  9. saturnismine

    hvb, scenario *you* just described above is a far cry from “no attention paid to detail.”

    production isn’t just sound.

    thanks for making my point for me.

    and if you think there was “no futzing” before, during, and after the sounds went to tape, you’re incredibly naive. not all of those takes were required for performance reasons only.

    (and btw., “producer dude” was john cale. surprised you didn’t know that since you seem to be such an expert on how that album was recorded).

  10. Pince Nez!!!! Cale produced the first album. Fun House was produced by some Italian art history buff. Read about it here!!!!

    By the way, there was a lot of thought put into the whole thing, at least after the fact.

  11. sammymaudlin

    Doesn’t this make them a shoe-in for The Hall of Fame?

  12. hrrundivbakshi

    Yeah, talk about a pince nez! I knew John Cale was the artsy-fartsy, tweaky-tweaky guy who produced the first LP. I couldn’t remember the name of the dude who let the second album’s freak flag fly.

    And, no, Sat, you’re not off the hook on this one — not by a long shot. I listen to enough music recorded 50 years ago, with two mics in the room — the ONLY two mics in the studio, probably, and recording straight to mono, with the engineer coming down off of a two-day bender, getting a blow job behind the desk — to know that some of the most amazing sounding music ever recorded didn’t require an ounce of effort on the studio owner’s part. But, again: if you’re not the band with the chops, the attitude, and lightning-strikes-twice luck to be in that room when the magic happens, then, yeah, it’d take a lot of work to try and replicate the gift that Elvis/Chuck/Bo/Iggy/the Stones/etc. got from God.

    Have you seen the coffee table tome “Recording the Beatles,” Sat? Do you know how they got that incredibly amazing drum sound off of Ringo’s kit for the first three or four albums?

  13. saturnismine

    hvb, i was never on the hook. i’m the one who dimed you out for that blanket statement at the beginning of this.

    and you’re not off the hook yet, either.

    first of all, i don’t want to get into a pissing contest with you regarding who’s listened to more. we’ve both listened closely to plenty of recordings from all eras…enough to have this discussion at a high level.

    if you think the number of mics is directly proportional to the amount of effort put forth, then you’re being incredibly naive about the recording process. you must not have read that beatles book too closely. they were detail FREAKS. they CHOSE to record the drums that way…it wasn’t a nonchalant, effortless decision.

    i also suspect you probably haven’t seen too many songs through from beginning to end with drums recorded with two mics only.

    all the drum tracks on the photon band songs on that album i gave you are recorded that way.

    they sound nice and natural and live…in the grand scheme of things, they’re not that much different sounding than the stooges album we were talking about.

    and achieving that sound required thought, planning, careful mic placement, trial and error, the scrapping of takes…all the things that you were describing in the stooges process.

    again, i’m just sayin’ that it’s much more than your initial statement (which i find rather inane), that there was “no attention paid to detail” in the recording of that early stooges album.

    if that was the case, then why are there radically different mixes of those songs that are the result of disagreements regarding how that album should sound?

    now: bored…done…not interested in continuing this back and forth anymore.

    ‘no attention to detail’ my ass. sorry.

  14. hrrundivbakshi

    Sat: you’re not listening! Here’s my point, as I’ve said all along: if you want to capture the magical recordings from yesteryear, you can either throw a couple of mics up with primitive outboard gear, a bit of studio layout savvy and a bunch of good luck, OR — note, ORRRR — put a shitload of work into trying to replicate the mojo through meticulous gear manipulation. My point has always been that it’s *possible* to do all this with little or no engineering effort, but that in order to guarantee your studio time yields result, you can’t count on the Chuck Berry “Talkin’ ‘Bout You” gods to shine down on you as they did for Leonard Chess and company. Hence my admonition to clients that quickly (“quickly” being the key word) capturing lightning in a bottle as the Stooges did is probably impossible. The only difference between what you and I are saying (I think) is that you believe all great recordings involved obsessive attention to in-studio/engineering detail. This is proven by the historical record to be FALSE. Many great recordings involved very little attention to detail whatsoever.

    I refuse to get into a pissing contest on who’s recorded more tracks with one, two, ten or eighty-five mics on the snare drum. I also refuse to prove my drum-mic-number engineering sophistication to you; sorry.

    And you’re not bored — you just wanted the last word. No dice!

  15. saturnismine

    “not listening?” no, i’m reading every word you say very carefully, and holding you to them.

    so you see, this really IS thoroughly boring the crap out of me.

    and i could give a flying fuck about the last word.

    i know that’s an impossible dream when disagreements arise with you.

    if you want to believe the romantic myths that go like this:

    “man..we just threw a couple mics up, and got it in a single take” that’s fine by me.

    but it just doesn’t work that way in reality.

    there’s always work involved…and someone…somewhere along the line in the process, was detail oriented.

    there are all kinds of attention to detail that your explanations don’t account for, some of which i’ve already explained. and so it seems that YOU’RE the one who’s “not listening.”

    you can’t just throw some mics up and get magic. SOMEONE has to know what they’re doing.

    you’re on VERY thin ice where you cite the beatles to support your argument.

    and i think an engineer on a classical recording session, where they often achieve the best results record an entire orchestra with one stereo mic, would blanch at the idea you continue to express repeatedly above, that there is some parallel between the number of mics used

    look…i know you’re a recording engineer…but so am i. and i’ve hung on a number of sessions in a wide range of scenarios for over twenty five years.

    with all due respect…it’s simply wrong to say that there was “no attention to detail” in the recording of that stooges album. from the first step, the recording was guided in that direction so that it could sound like that. it didn’t just happen. there’s a decision made at every step in the process. whether someone labored over the decision, or just knew what to do isn’t the point. there are simply too many variables in ANY recording process for there to have been “no attention to detail.” recording inherently requires attention to detail.

    continue to argue your side…..

  16. saturnismine

    unfinished sentence:

    “…that there is some parallel between the number of mics used…” and the amount of attention paid to detail.

    also, i don’t recall asking you to ” prove my drum-mic-number engineering sophistication” to me. i only suggested that your comments suggest that you haven’t really tried the two mic method. you don’t sound like someone who has. but if you have, that’s fine. i believe you. you can unbunch your panties about that.

  17. Sorry to interupt the fascinating discussion between Sat hnd HVB but I was looking around the “Mix” website from geo’s link and I found this great time waster.

  18. saturnismine

    cool, andyr!!!

    hvb, one more thing: i don’t want you to think that i’m in denial about the ‘happy accidents’ that occur in studio practice (for instance, the great drum sound on “when the levee breaks”).

    my point is just that there’s always work involved that you don’t seem to want to acknowledge. all of those ‘magical’ moments are supported by tons of elbow grease both before and after the magical moment. they’re very un-romantic, and don’t make for good interview fodder later, which is why they don’t often wind up in the “history” or “record” you keep hanging your hat on in this discussion. but they’re crucial.

    again…continue to flap in the breeze…i’ll twist in the wind.

  19. Territorial pissings aside… I was in the recording studio last weekend, and our produced said ” I want you to hit your wah pedal and go all Ron Ashton on the end of this song.” I said, “You mean James Williamson?” Either way, it worked beautifully.
    I’m so glad Ashton got some respect & touring time before he died. Too many years of obscurity, watching TV. RIP.

  20. Mr. Moderator

    Welcome aboard, Kurtz!

  21. Jeez, You guys, a man DIED here, & you turn it into a debate over recording techniques. One thing is for sure, no matter how the mics are positioned, we’re never gonna hear THAT sound again; the sound of Ron Asheton playing electric guitar.

    I know no one will read this, it’s so long after the fact, but I couldn’t help but react. By the way, it was Don Gallucci, the one-time organist/bandleader for Don & the Goodtimes in the producer’s seat for Funhouse. Not that it really matters, in light of Ron’s death.

  22. BigSteve

    Don & the Goodtimes, ok, true. But dude, Galucci was in the Kingsmen. He played on fucking Louie Louie. Let’s get some perspective here.

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