Stooges Guitarist to Play San Jose Show

"I'm a street walking cheetah with a heart full of napalm.  I'm a runaway son of the nuclear a-bomb.  I am a world's forgotten boy.  The one who searches and destroys." "Search and Destroy," Stooges: Raw Power.  

"Seach and Destroy," the opening track to The Stooges 1973 album, Raw Power, still sounds as defiant as ever when  Iggy Pop belts it out shirtless on stage. But alas, our Stooges have been on hiatus since guitarist Ron Asheton died last year.

Asheton era Stooges brought the world two great original albums: 1969's naive rocker, The Stooges and 1970's motocross race though an opium den, "Fun house."

Now, after 35 years away from any stage, The Stooges second guitarist, James Williamson, who dominated the Les Paul on "Raw Power," will reunite with the band and put them back on the road.

While Fun House and The Stooges filled out the Asheton set list, Raw Power and Kill City will help round out the Williamson performances.

Bay area Stooges fans will have a rare opportunity on September 5 to catch Williamson live when he joins locals The Careless Hearts for an evening of Raw Power covers before he joins The Stooges.

I caught up with James Williamson who has been a veep in the Silicon Valley tech industry for a brief interview about his upcoming gig with The Careless Hearts and his future with The Stooges.

RW: How did the gig with the Careless Hearts happen?

JW: I walked into a local music store two years ago to buy a Martin and the guy behind the counter recognized my name asked, "Are you the James Williamson from The Stooges?" I said, "Well, you're too young to know The Stooges!" (laughs) So, when The Stooges reformation came about he offered to lend me his band (for rehearsal) and that was an offer I couldn't refuse.

RW: The Careless Hearts are more of a Byrds style band, aren't they?

JW: I had gone to see the band a couple of times and they are very very different from The Stooges but it turns out they had all played Stooges songs in garage bands when they were growing up. You're not going to see the singer do a lot of the stage antics like Iggy does but we sound great!

RW: What's it like playing those songs again?

JW: I'm a little older, actually a lot older (laughs), but it takes you back and I am really looking forward to playing with Scott Asheton then it will really take me back.

RW: What is The Blank Club like?

JW: I guess a lot of good bands play there but it's just a little room. If they get two or three hundred people in there they will be packed like sardines.

RW: When you joined The Stooges they were already an established band so you've probably never played a gig this intimate.

JW: We played a few small gigs toward the end... but I don't think I've ever played a place like this. It's kind of cool! I am looking forward to it.

RW: What kind of set should we expect to hear at next year's Stooges shows?

JW: We haven't determined a final set list but everything is up for grabs. One of the things about The Stooges in the old days that was very stupid was that we very rarely played the same stuff very often. We would be playing new stuff as we went along because we thought we were being creative and also because we got bored very easily. So as entertainment we kind of failed because no one really knew the songs. This time around we are trying to draw on things the audience knows and that covers a lot of territory. A lot of "Raw Power" stuff and we'll hit on the first two Stooges albums, maybe a couple of Iggy's solo things.

At the time of this interview Williamson was preparing for rehearsal in L.A. with The Stooges for next year's tour. A photo book documenting the band's early years called "Stooges: The Authorized and Illustrated Story" is in the works. Williamson's show with The Careless Hearts at the Blank Club in San Jose. tix: $12.

Robert Wellington is an NBC Bay Area staff photojournalist and has been a Stooges fan for more than 30 years.

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