James Williamson's trek from Stooge to tech to Stooge again
High times for the band that had known each other since tenth grade — Ron Asheton played bass in James Williamson's first group, and Williamson hung out at the initial Stooges basement rehearsals. If there were any hard feelings when Pop shed the original Stooges with the exception of second guitarist Williamson, they seem to have faded. Asked by Pop to fly to London to write material for Raw Power, Williamson vividly recalls the making of his first album as productive. "I wrote almost all the songs on Raw Power up in my room in London on an acoustic guitar," he remembers. "In fact, that acoustic guitar is now in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum. It's easier for me to hear the true sound of the chords, the combination of chord changes." Pop was also easy to work with — "a very nice person and very intelligent and sincere."
"I made some mistakes on that album in the solos and stuff, but who cares?" Williamson says now. "What matters is how it comes across." In the studio, the guitarist simply played, pulling out the caterwauling, proto-thrash solos for "Search and Destroy" and "Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell" until he saw the rest of the band nodding in the control room. "The music was all mine," he explains. "So I didn't know if it was any good or not — or anything about it. But I was having a great time and I was making money. I mean, what was not to like about it?"
Now, after working in high tech for more than 30 years, Williamson's writing new songs with Pop ("It's just as easy now as it was then") and anticipating the rerelease of the remastered Pop- and Williamson-penned Kill City (Bomp, 1977). He's found what might be the choicest retirement job ever, as a member of the Stooges. "It was a big stretch going from the Stooges to calculus and differential equations, but I did it!" he says, "and I've never really regretted it." Only Williamson can claim the next trajectory — "from a Stooge to a suit to Stooge!" he chortles.