All right, I’m just going to say it: it was a good time for him to go.
No, I’m not glad at all that Ron Asheton has passed. It’s a fucking drag. But, given that the world death rate is holding steady at 100%, and we’re all gonna check out sometime, his checkout appears to be better-timed, better-placed, and a hell of a lot more dignified than most.
The timing of his passing — on the tail end of the Stooges’ resurrection — echoes that of Roy Orbison, who died after seeing a comeback via the Travelling Wilbury’s and as his own “Mystery Girl” single was climbing the charts. That’s the time to exit, baby, not when no one remembers you made some of the greatest rock and roll records ever made.
Asheton died at home, evidently quietly, and of (it seems) natural enough causes. That’s so much better than, say, poor John Entwhistle, whose heart went out with a bloodstream full of coke in a hotel while on another shameless, half-assed “Who” tour. Or Michael Hutchence, about the circumstances of whose death the less said the better. Or John Bonham. Or Layne Staley. Or Bradley Delp. Or Jeffrey Lee Pierce. Or Kurt Cobain.
I take heart from people like Asheton, like Orbison, like Arthur Lee, who just keep on going, jails, band splits, health problems, and piss-poor sales be damned. And by checking out when they did, after attaining some degree of recognition however belated, they collectively give a huge middle finger to F. Scott Fitzgerald and his assertion that there are no second acts in American life.
Maybe they don’t happen often, but they do happen and there’s your proof.
Now, go listen to The Stooges or Funhouse, and turn it up as loud as the stereo will go.