The Rationals' Scott Morgan on Scott Asheton: Stooges Drummer 'Found Himself' In Music

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Scott Asheton of The Stooges attends the 25th Annual Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony at the Waldorf=Astoria on March 15, 2010

Scott Morgan met Scott "Rock Action" Asheton when both were in their early teens in Ann Arbor, Mich., and they were close friends and musical colleagues until Asheton's death over the weekend at the age of 64. Their two bands, the Stooges and the Rationals, played side by side in the late 60s, and Asheton later joined Morgan and the MC5's Fred "Sonic" Smith in Sonic's Rendezvous Band and Morgan in Scots Pirates. Morgan spoke with Billboard's Gary Graff:

We were in junior high school together, Forsythe Junior High. I met Scott and Ron there, and it was the beginning of a lifelong friendship because we were both into music. The family had moved her from Iowa and my dad was from Iowa, so we had a connection already. As things were going along, I was in the Rationals and he started playing with the Stooges and we were in the same circles again, this time as professional musicians.

And then when the Stooges stopped playing, I was playing with (the MC5's) Fred Smith and thought, "Scott's not playing. Me and Fred and Scott would make a really good band. So me and Fred started working with Scott, and that was the beginning of Sonic's Rendezvous Band, basically. We had been going for awhile and me and Fred had kicked around a lot of ideas, and when we finally settled on Scott as a drummer, that was when the band started to solidify as a permanent thing for the next five years. 

During all of that, obviously, we became really close friends and spent a lot of time together. We went up north (in Michigan) fishing every year, just hung out, like friends do -- go to the bar, go to see music and stuff like that. He was not a real talkative guy; he was more taciturn than loquacious. He was a real, super-good friend but not the kind of guy that talked all the time, not the life of the party or yakking away all the time. He was just really to the point in what he had to say and really into music, really into his friends, his family and just normal pursuits like fishing and chess and stuff like that -- not what you'd expect. You'd think he'd be Lemmy Kilmister or something, but he wasn't like that.

When he started out with the Stooges he made his own drum set -- a couple of oil cans with contact mics on them, some timbales for tom-toms, maybe a snare drum and a couple of cymbals. Then he graduated to getting a real drum set when (the Stooges) signed to Elektra and started recording.

As a drummer he was, at first, just real straight-ahead; the Stooges were just basically jamming, and Scott's job was to be solid and hold everything together because everybody else was just going nuts. He pretty much played the same way through the Stooges recordings, and then when he started playing with Sonic's Rendezvous Band, we were doing more stuff like Chuck Berry and some Rhythm & Blues stuff and he had to change his style a little bit. But I think he was better, and getting better every time.

After Sonic's broke up he took some jazz lessons at Washtenaw Community College, and that increased his scope a little more. He was much more fluent as a drummer and could do a lot of different things he couldn't do when he started playing drums -- which I guess is a typical musician's progression; the more you do it, the better. And in Scots Pirates were basically trying to do something we hadn't done before. It wasn't the Stooges. It wasn't the Rationals. It was a whole different trip, and Scott was very well equipped for it.

I think the music for Scott... once Scott found that, he found himself, I think. He found something he could do that was different, that he enjoyed doing, that he could get paid doing and travel -- kind of like a dream job. It really was that for him, I think.

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