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The Mid-Week Beat: Happy Birthday to Geezer Butler and Ron Asheton!

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Today marks the birthdays of two men that are, in no small part, responsible for the creation of both heavy metal and punk rock. Both are considered titans in the world of heavy rock. One is still with us and one, sadly, passed away a couple years ago.

The two men I’m talking about are Geezer Butler, original bass player and chief lyricist for what is largely considered to be the first “heavy metal” band, Black Sabbath and Ron Asheton, guitarist of the legendary Stooges, the band credited with creating the attitude, aesthetic and sound that would become known as “punk rock.” Separated by only a year these two men represent a musical generation who were brought up on the peace and love of 60s rock, but who opted for a darker and more aggressive style. They are proof that a new rock and roll revolution was under way on both sides of the Atlantic and the sound that these two men helped form would provide the groundwork for two genres that would dominate the 70s and 80s and continue to influence fans of heavy music for decades to come.

Geezer Butler was born in Birmingham, England on July 17, 1949 and formed his first band Rare Breed as a teenager with his friend John “Ozzy” Osbourne in the autumn of 1967. Eventually they incorporated local guitarist Tony Iommi and drummer Bill Ward to form the blues band Polka Tulk, who eventually changed their name to Earth and then to Black Sabbath in 1969 when it was discovered that another band called Earth was already playing gigs in their small English touring circuit. Black Sabbath’s debut LP was released on Friday, February 13, 1970 and reached number 8 on the UK album charts, signalling a successful run of releases that would have Sabbath packing arenas throughout the 70s and into the 1980s.

Originally a rhythm guitarist, Butler switched to bass when Tony Iommi made it clear that he didn’t intend to share guitar duties in Black Sabbath. He is credited as being the first bass player to use a wah wah pedal and to down tune, in an attempt to match Iommi who had begun tuning his guitar to C#, a minor third down from the standard E tuning. This down-tuning is how they got the signature “Sabbath sound” that would create the sonic foundation for the heavy metal scene that would follow. Butler quit Black Sabbath in 1984 but rejoined in 1997 for a reunion tour. He’s never left the band since. Black Sabbath recently released their first new album in 35 years with the classic Butler/Iommi/Osbourne lineup, the Rick Rubin produced 13! Happy Birthday Geezer!

2013-02-23-ron_asheton_young-533x361Ron Asheton was born on July 17, 1948 in Washington D.C. His family eventually moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan where he would form The Stooges alongside his pal Jim Osterberg, better known as Iggy Pop. The band appropriately made its live debut on Halloween of 1967 and The Stooges earned immediate notoriety for their intense live presence and aggressively primitive sound. They were celebrated in underground circles, influencing many of the musicians that would form the original punk movement but, unlike Black Sabbath, were generally reviled by mainstream rock fans. They did manage to get signed to Elektra Records and released their seminal self-titled debut in 1969. It sold poorly as did the following two releases, Fun House and Raw Power, but those three records laid the groundwork for punk rock and are now considered to be classic examples of the Detroit “proto-punk” sound.

The Stooges disbanded in 1974 amidst heavy drug use and commercial disappointment and Asheton would go on to form a few other bands, namely The New Order and Destroy All Monsters, before reuniting with Iggy and his brother Scott Asheton in the early 2000s. The newly reunited Stooges enjoyed a run of successful live shows throughout the decade and released what would be the final Stooges album The Weirdness in 2007. Sadly, Ron was found dead in his home in Ann Arbor, Michigan on January 1, 2009, having apparently died of a heart attack a couple days earlier. He was only 60 years old. Happy Birthday Ron! We miss you.

In celebration of these two highly influential musicians and in celebration of the heaviness that they spawned, we’ve decided to highlight some upcoming metal, punk and hardcore shows. Through these younger bands, we can witness the legacy created by Geezer Butler and Ron Asheton and witness heavy rock’s continued evolution. Fans of hard rock owe a lot to these two visionary musicians, so today, in their honor, I recommend putting the first Sabbath and Stooges records on rotation. Turn the volume up to 10 and feel the power. Rock on!


Here are some upcoming punk, metal and hardcore shows that we think fans of Black Sabbath and The Stooges will dig.

Saturday, July 20 I LA Summer Skate Punk FestLos Angeles, California   Gitbam Presents: L.A Summer Skate Punk Fest 2013 featuring Smut Peddlers, Angry Samoans, Circle One, False Confessions, Evacuate, Killroy, Destruction Made Simple, Drop Tank and Hari Kari.

Sunday, July 21 I IN DYING ARMSCanoga Park, California   Formed in 2006, In Dying Arms created a style that lies between deathcore, metalcore and post-hardcore. This metal powerhouse has released three full length LPs and one EP.

Saturday, July 27 & Sunday, July 28 I Something Bloody Metal FestProvidence, Rhode Island   A music fest in Providence that’sL focused but not isolated to, local Rhode Island extreme metal featuring on Saturday: Soul Remnants, Witch King, Bog of the Infidel, Mausoleum, Eat the Turnbuckle, Dehumanized, Dawnbringer, Malignancy, Abnormality, Attacker, Sewergodess, Murrum, Orsus (ex-Sorcery), I-Destroyer, Nachzehrer, Sexcrement and Obsidian Tongue. Sunday’s lineup includes Amadis, Seax, Hessian, Graveside Service, Shroud of Bereavement, Crypter, Gravewurm, Lolita Black, Nightbitch, Elder, Cauchemar, Statan’s Satyrs and Phlegm.

Saturday, August 3 I * LUICIDAL * (Featuring Lou Mayorga and RJ Herrera of Suicidal Tendencies)Mesa, Arizona   Seizure Salad and Death Punx Booking Phoenix present: Luicidal (featuring Lou Mayorga and RJ Herrera of Suicidal Tendencies, playing classic Suicidal songs), The Atrocities (ska tinged thrash/hardcore punk from Chicago), Futile Defiance (hardcore punk/thrash from California), Rotten Youth, Scattered Guts, 80D, Button Struggler and Bathless Bastards.

Monday, August 5 I American Head ChargeEau Claire, Wisconsin   American Head Charge is a metal band from Minneapolis, Minnesota. The band has earned two nominations at the Kerrang! Awards. The band made their debut on the underground industrial metal scene with their 1999 independent self-released album Trepanation. After supporting System of a Down in Des Moines, Iowa in August 1999, System of a Down’s bassist Shavo Odadjian was impressed enough that when American Recordings label owner Rick Rubin asked Odadjian if there were any bands he should check out, he told Rubin about American Head Charge. Six months later the band signed to Rubin’s American Recordings and the band moved to Los Angeles to begin work on their first major label album with Rubin at the helm, living and recording at his infamous Houdini Mansion. The War of Art, released August 28, 2001, sold over 12,000 copies in the United States in its first week and went on to sell over 250,000.

Friday, August 9 I Hunx & His Punx / Chain & The Gang / Hunters / Dry Feet @ PhilaMocaPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania  Hunx and His Punx are an American punk band from San Francisco, California. Hunx, real name Seth Bogart, started the band in 2008 after years of performing in a gay pop group called Gravy Train!!!!  The group’s sound has been compared to girl groups and is a mix of punk and bubblegum music. The band officially released its debut singles compilation album Gay Singles in 2010 on True Panther Sounds in the US and Born Bad in France. In January 2010, Hunx began a tour featuring an all-girl backing band. The new line-up has been identified on the tour and in new songs such as “Lovers Lane” as Hunx and His Punkettes. In June 2011, Hunx announced that they would be playing their last show with the “Punkettes” due to Hunx and His Punx guitarists Amy Blaustein and Michelle Santamaria quitting. In February 2012, Hunx released a solo album titled Hairdresser Blues on Hardly Art. Hunx and His Punx now consists of Seth Bogart, Shannon Shaw and Erin Emslie. They are working on their new album to be released in 2013.

Friday, August 9 I MDC, OPPOSITION RISING, AND WARTORN!!Fullerton, California   MDC RETURNS TO ORANGE COUNTY!! MDC (Millions of Dead Cops) are an American punk rock band formed in Austin, Texas in 1981. The band was subsequently based in San Francisco, California, and are currently based in Portland, Oregon. Originally formed as The Stains before changing their name, the band also changed their name to a different initialism of MDC with every new record released. They play fast hardcore punk music espousing far-left sociopolitical ideals, with singer Dave Dictor expressing his animal rights and anti-capitalist convictions. They will be playing with Opposition Rising, Wartorn, SMD and Vindictive.