vəˈräɡō/: a woman of strength or spirit; a female warrior.

The Stooges: Down In The Street, Scott Asheton in memoriam

With the death of drummer Scott Asheton, the original line-up of the proto-punk, Ann-Arbor Michigan band The Stooges is now down to one surviving member, Iggy.

As sorrow pours out from posts of rock fans and journalists across the net, I wanted to find away to pay tribute with earnest, but without the  baggage of the overwhelming sadness I felt.

So here goes, couple of years ago, a good actor, buddy of mine was preparing for an audition. The part called for a black, lead guitar player in a punk band circa ’92. My buddy had a pretty eclectic musical taste, but was pretty much a hip hop head.

While having a healthy respect for the genre, he didn’t really FEEL punk. In trying to achieve a sense of authenticity that would elevate his performance,  I threw a couple of my favs at him, but nothing…nothing moved him deep in his soul like The Stooges ‘Down On The Street’. When the opening to their 1970 sophomore album ‘Fun House’ boomed through the speakers, his eyes widened. He turned to me with an expression that clearly revealed his mind was being blown. From the wolf-like barks and howls to the psychotic sneer of Iggy spittin’ his lyrics into the mic,’Down On The Street’ crystallizes everything it feels like to be young, horny, potentially violent and not giving a f&#$ about the MAN. Like a snarling hell-hound bucking to be let off the leash,  Iggy is chained to the primal jungle boogie of the band – Dave Alexander on heavy, bottom bass, Ron Asheton playing the most menacing guitar riffs ever and brother Scott on drums, holding this organized chaos together with thunderous voodoo beats. In unison, the Stooges achieve something every middle American white boy, rock ‘n’ roller craves but rarely achieves: street cred. Predating hip hop by decades it carries the missing link from Howlin’ Wolf, James Brown and the Rolling Stones to Funkadelic, the Sex pistols and NWA.

After consistently playing the song over and over again for 20 minutes, my buddy turned to me and said “I get it!”.

Down on the street/Where the faces shine. Floatin’ around/I’m a real low mind.

Give thanks people, we are blessed we still got Iggy. But I wanna say, thank you Dave, thank you Ron, and thank you Scotty.
We got it!

About P.Downes

P.Downes

A Los Angeles-based Bajan, rude boy from Boston, P. Downes (Writer/Film & Independent Music Editor) is a card-carrying music and comic book geek with dreams of making movies. He’s a published comic book writer, most notably “Killer Ape and Other City Stories,” a collaboration with Greg Moutafis about a black, punk band who comes of age on the night of the LA Riots. Rumor has it that he types his articles in Spider-man Underoos for good luck.

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