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Revisiting Ron Asheton's Influences: Guitarist on Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones and JFK

January 7, 2009 6:35 PM ET

In June 2004, photographer Peter Norrman shot Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton at the Weber Family Restaurant in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It was the guitarist's favorite restaurant, which was just minutes from the home he grew up in — and the very same house where he died earlier this week. Norrman set up a video camera while he was prepping the shoot, and Georg Cederskog, a Washington correspondent for the Swedish Daily Dagens Nyheter, began posing some questions.

Asheton opened up about Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix and Keith Richards, but he said, "Brian Jones was my real rock hero. I tried to emulate his haircut and dress." He recalled seeing photos of the Beatles when he was still a young kid obsessed with the military, and later discovering another groundbreaking band: "I was so happy Nirvana existed." (Watch the video above.)

But what eventually led Asheton to show business? Shaking John F. Kennedy's hand.

Asheton, guitarist and founding member of the Stooges, was found dead at his home in Ann Arbor, Michigan Tuesday morning. He was 60. Official cause of death has not yet been announced but initial indications suggest Asheton suffered a fatal heart attack. As the guitarist for the Stooges, Asheton crafted some of rock's most memorable riffs, including "I Wanna Be Your Dog," "No Fun" and "TV Eye." In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, Iggy Pop said, "I am in shock. He was my best friend."

Related Stories:Photo Gallery: The Stooges — Five Decades of Raw Power
The Stooges' Ron Asheton Remembered
Iggy Pop, Fans, Bandmates Pay Tribute to Ron Asheton
The Immortals: The Stooges by Thurston Moore
1970 Feature: The Stooges

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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