I have found four reasons to have and use tone controls:
the acoustics of the room usually exaggerate the bass due to standing waves between the room walls floor and ceiling. The recording room where the original was created had acoustic treatment to remove this effect, at least those recording studios worthy of the name have it. This means your audio-phile buddy has not taken into account the realities of sound in untreated domestic rooms. Some bass cut is often helpful, the best tool for this job however is a parametric EQ or a 1/3rd octave EQ both of which allow selection of the frequency band to be adjusted, whereas a simple "bass" control has a very broad effect.
Reason two is that recordings vary in the relative balance between bass and treble energy, sometimes because of choices made by the recording engineer and producer, sometimes because of inaccuracies in the system. Tone controls can make adjustment to compensate for these variations.
Thirdly, some types of music are more enjoyable with tone adjustments, for example some pop music seems to benefit from more bass. This is a personal preference and tone controls allow these adjustments on demand.
The fourth reason is that the speaker tonal balance is affected by the location of the speakers relative to the walls and the location of the listening seat relative to the speakers and the walls. In many domestic situations the opportunity for variations of the locations of speakers and listening seat are very limited. In these situations the use of tone controls can Help compensate for tonal imbalances due to speaker and listener locations being non-optimal.
Tone controls are technically fairly simple and do not add significant amounts of noise or distortion, unless the design is a poor one. Some people believe the phase shifts that are introduced by analogue tone controls are detrimental to sound quality. This is contentious, the audibility of phase shifts is difficult to quantify, and there may be very little effect to hear. The very definite benefits of the use of tone controls far outweigh the probably inaudible effects of a little phase shift.
Every reason to use them, no reason not to.
Technics SL1600mk2, Ortofon VMS30, modified TEAC AH500 as a preamp, Bryston 4B ST amp, Harbeth M40 speakers, all making musical magic :-)