Remembering Scott Asheton, Iggy Pop’s Brother in Noise
Scott Asheton was the greatest thug-rocker who ever lived. As the drummer for Iggy and the Stooges, Scott, who passed away just over a week ago, at age 64, was a third of the best punk band that ever existed (his brother Ron, who passed away in 2009, was its guitarist). As Iggy said of Scotty, “The record company must have thought, ‘These guys are maniacs: The singer attacks the audience. They’re all loaded. They don’t communicate nicely with us. The drummer won’t even talk to us; he won’t talk to the manager.’ [Scott would] grunt, say, ‘Uh-huh,’ like a juvenile-delinquent kid: ‘Don’t talk to me… grrr… grrr…’”
Scotty was the ultimate hoodlum, who stood outside Discount Records, in Ann Arbor, spitting on cars. When Gillian McCain and I conducted the interviews for Please Kill Me, we knew we had to include Scotty, since he was such an iconic figure in the history of punk. His brother Ron usually did the talking for the Stooges’ side of the story, and after we exhausted Ron, we set our sights on Scotty. This is one of the few times he ever sat down for such an extended interview. We were honored that he did.
THE FIRST STOOGES SHOW
I was kicked out of my house by the time I was 17, which was fine with me. I was living at the SRC (Scot Richard Case) band house, over on Broadway. I had drums set up over there, and I was jamming with those guys when they weren’t playing. And one day my brother and Iggy came over, and Ron said, “Wanna start a band? Iggy wants you to play drums. Wanna do it?”
I said, “Yeah, sure.”
Even though we loved the Yardbirds and Stones and MC5, we couldn’t play that shit, you know? And we just wanted to do something totally different—I think LSD helped shaped our style. I wasn’t a big acid fan myself; I’d taken acid about ten times. Iggy took it more, and Dave took it a lot more. But after we first tripped at the Forest Court House, we started liking and feeling good about playing.
Our first gig, at the Grande Ballroom, was when we were living on that farm, and I didn’t sleep for three days, I was so nervous about the first gig. The night before, Iggy had shaved off his eyebrows. We had a friend that had a nervous condition and lost his hair and he had no eyebrows, and his name was Jim Pop. So I looked at him and said, “You look like Jim Pop.”
So we started calling him Pop, and that’s were Iggy Pop came from.
At the Grande Ballroom, Iggy took a woman’s bathing cap and stuck all these strips of aluminum foil around it to make a wig out of it. Then he rubbed his face with baby oil and took glitter and just threw it on his face. He had a tutu on with black tights and a metal plate on the floor with a microphone on it, and he’d stomp on that with the one golf show he was wearing. It was real hot in the ballroom that night, and he started sweating—and that’s when realized what you need eyebrows for, ‘cause everything on his face just started running into his eyes. We only played for 20 minutes, but at the end, his eyes were swollen up and totally red and puffy—'cause all that oil and glitter went right in his eyes. It was nasty.
Iggy was playing a Hawaiian guitar, my brother was playing a fuzz bass, and Dave was playing an amp at full volume with the reverb so it was making huge explosions. I had two 50-gallon oil drums with DayGlo paint all over 'em, with two wooden bass-drum beaters with contact mikes on the drums, and every time I had to hit that drum—it was the loudest, most outrageous, obnoxious drilling sound you’d ever heard in your life. It was driving people crazy—Iggy stomping on the metal with his golf shoe and Dave crashing the amp and the fuzz-tone Hawaiian guitar—people didn’t know what to think.