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Going for the Throat

As he contemplates the thought of Prince Charles getting his bell rung, of a member of the royal family receiving a royal thumping, Ron Asheton can’t help but laugh.

The Stooges guitarist is no stranger to the absurd — the singer of his band, a rogue adrenal gland named Iggy Pop, has been known to slather peanut butter across his bare chest, wield his genitalia like a broadsword and continually thumb his nose at the aging process somehow.

Still, some things are a bit much for even Asheton to swallow, and this is one of them.

"Iggy got a call from Donatella Versace, she’s sending her private jet to fly us to London to play at Prince Charles’ benefit fashion show," Asheton says with an incredulous chuckle. "I’m going, ‘Wait a minute, this is a joke right?’ Prince Charles is going to be wearing earplugs. That’s the beauty of showbiz."

And that’s about the only time that "beauty" ever will get mentioned in conjunction with The Stooges.

This band is to rock ‘n’ roll what cocaine is to nervous systems: They excite and arouse, destroy and ravage all in the same breath.

Along with fellow Detroit street toughs the MC5, they are the band most responsible for birthing that raw, leering and unrepentant strain of rock ‘n’ roll that would later become known as punk.

Beginning in the late ’60s, The Stooges dropped three crucial, genre-defining discs that hardened the blues into a clenched fist, a growling, dissonant mess of hard-swinging guitars and cocksure come-ons that registered like a series of cardiac arrests.

But then half the band descended into heroin addiction, and it was all over almost as quickly as it began.

Decades after the fact, Asheton (along with his drummer brother Scott) reunited with Pop on his 2003 solo disc, "Skull Ring," and soon The Stooges were back in action as well.

"I hadn’t really seen Iggy, hadn’t really talked to him but twice in maybe 25 years," Asheton recalls of his time apart away from The Stooges. "I went to some of his shows in Detroit, but I didn’t go backstage, ’cause they had a big line, and I’d go, ‘I’m not going to stand in line to see my friend.’ So when I went down to Florida to do ‘Skull Ring,’ I was a little nervous. We see him, we walk across the street, start talking, get something to eat, and then all that time just sort of melted away very quickly."

Earlier this year, The Stooges dropped their first new album in more than three decades, the mean-eyed "The Weirdness," which seems almost self-consciously aggressive, as if to underscore the fact that these dudes haven’t mellowed any with age.

In a way they have — sex with strangers doesn’t carry the allure it once did — but this bunch still goes for the throat like it’s the only thing keeping them from the grave.

"In the old days, after the show, it was, ‘Hey, let’s find some girls, who’s got the joints?’ " Asheton recalls. "But now, we don’t do that — we have a couple of beers, a martini, a glass of wine — it’s about the satisfaction of a mission accomplished. When you’ve got something and the people like it, death is the only thing that takes you away."

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