...I was still hoping for a last gig or some kind of reunion. A very last show, a lot of fun, steaming music, great band, great fans ... . Joey has played his last show. The lights went out, the music faded, his show had to come to an end. Nevertheless, I know that he will keep on rocking in our hearts. Adios amigo, I will miss you!
Joey's last record:
Like many seminal musicians who died too soon, Joey Ramone has left a trail of tunes to remember him by.
Before the former Ramones frontman's life was taken at age 49 by lymphatic cancer on Sunday 15/04/01, he finished a solo album that was nearly three years in the making.
"It is all recorded. We will wait awhile, but we will release it this year," said longtime Ramones producer Daniel Rey, who collaborated with the singer on the album. "Joey wanted it to come out. He was proud of it."
Ramone wrote nearly 20 new tunes that he recorded with a band consisting of Andy (a.k.a. Adny) Shernoff of punk group the Dictators, Cracker drummer Frank Funaro and Rey on guitar.
"He was loved by everyone who knew him or heard him," Rey said. "There was never anyone like him, nor will there ever be again. He encapsulated everything about rock 'n' roll music and did it with passion. He took everything that was good — doo-wop, girl groups, the British invasion — and summed it up in his vocal style."
The songs on the posthumous album reflect Ramone's ongoing quirky obsessions.
"I watch this show 'Squawk Box' every morning, and they have this host named Maria [Bartiromo] who is really hot and feisty," Ramone said. "When I stopped drinking, I started getting into the stock market because it's sort of like a mosh pit down there."
A demo of the song mixed the British Invasion sound of the Who's early material with a touch of the Ramones' career-long fascination with Motown girl groups. "I watch her every day/ I watch her every night/ She's really out of sight/ Maria Bartiromo," Ramone sang.
Other songs Ramone recorded include "I Feel Like I'm on a Drug I've Never Done Before," "Mr. Punchy," "Don't Worry About Me," "What Did I Do to Deserve You" and "There's a Spirit in My House and I Know It Ain't No Mouse."
A Ramone alone:
Bonded by their love of the music of the '60s, they called themselves the Ramones, and they saved rock & roll. Amazon.com editor Kevin Cole talks with punk visionary, pizza lover, and lead vocalist Joey Ramone about punk rock, purity and art.
Joey ("I don't care about history") Ramone claims his place in the annals of rock & roll In the mid-1970s, four outcasts emerged from Queens, New York, wearing ripped jeans, T-shirts, and black leather jackets, singing songs about teenage lobotomies and "chewing out a rhythm on my bubblegum."
Amazon.com: Entertainment Weekly picked the Ramones' first gig at CBGB's as one of the hundred most important moments in rock & roll history. How does that make you feel?
Joey Ramone: Coming in at No. 11 wasn't bad. That made me feel pretty good. People always embraced the Ramones, but it's nice, what's happening. Seems like since the band disbanded there's been a major increase in all kinds of things dealing with the Ramones and with rock & roll. Because the Ramones weren't just a band; we inspired generations of kids. We were really the blueprint for the kind of music that we created--that was called punk rock—but it was so much more than that. I mean, like, you hear from all these young kids, like Offspring and Green Day and Rancid--all these younger bands today. It's cool hearing from them.
Amazon.com: Did you guys have a sense of history when you started out?
Ramone: We were all friends living in the same neighborhood, basically; we were all kind of outcasts. And we shared a lot of the same musical tastes. And the music that we loved was kind of dying out, so we played for ourselves, more or less. The real good stuff was all kind of disappearing. I guess in the early '70s there was some good stuffthe Stooges, MC5, Alice Cooper, and then like [David] Bowie and T-Rex and Slade. There was a lot of good stuff, and then that was it.
Amazon.com: Is there a single most important element to the Ramones' sound?
Ramone: Johnny conceived a new guitar sound and everyone brought something special to the stew. The things that we sang about were dealing with ourselves—our own frustrations and things that we found amusing and things dealing with TV or radio or life.
Amazon.com: How, over the course of 20 years, did you guys avoid getting fat?
Ramone: We always knew who we were as individuals. We knew what we wanted and we never strayed. We knew what excited us and what our fans liked. We're purists and we always stayed true to that.
Amazon.com: Was it ever frustrating creating perfect pop radio songs like Rockaway Beach and not getting radio play?
Ramone: Well, it was a very frustrating career. It was just constant obstacles being thrown in your path. It wasn't in the music or anything. It was usually the industry—radio or whatever. A lot of people were afraid of us.
Amazon.com: What's your first musical recollection?
Ramone: I remember it being like Del Shannon. That might have been the first record I bought Runaway. My early life, I went through a lot of crap with divorce and my mom remarrying and getting a new family and all this crap. I kind of found my salvation in AM radio. I remember being turned on to the Beach Boys, hearing Surfing USA, I guess, in 1960. But the Beatles really did it to me. Later on, the Stooges were a band that really helped me in those dark periods—just get out the aggression. Nobody picked up guns in those days. You put on music and it made you feel great.
Amazon.com: In looking back at the legacy of the Ramones, what makes you feel the proudest?
Ramone: I guess just the entire accomplishment. We never sold out; we always retained our self-respect and our integrity. And I guess just being respected by other artists, like Stephen King and Matt Groening and Phil Spector. And just the fans in general. We get diehard fans.
Amazon.com: What's a record that people would be surprised that you love?
Ramone: I love that Lucinda Williams record, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. It's just totally genuine. And she's very unique.
Amazon.com: When people are being really real and honest and passionate, it transcends genre.
Ramone: I love that—when I'm affected by somebody else. It doesn't happen very often. There's a real art to making music. It's not a commodity, even though today it is a commodity. Today it's just record business. It has nothing to do with music or art.
Interview by Kevin Cole for Amazon.Com © 1999
Check CJ's latest stuff such as Reconquista at his homepage!
In the summer of 1980, I was 14 and just starting to get sick of everyone telling me what to do. Most of my teen angst was honest to goodness straight from the heart rebelliousness fueled by the bands I was listening to at the time. Mostly "classic rock" and some early metal bands. riThen one day I met this crazy blonde girl and she was wilder than any guy I ever met. She invited me over to her house after awhile and I accepted of course! Hanging out in her room, smoking my first joint I sat and listened to the Ramones for the first time. I'd heard some stuff before, but this was the first time I was really affected by what I'd heard. I don't know if it was the weed, my raging hormones, or if the planets lined up just right but I was hooked. I'd heard of "punk" before, but I didn't get it at all. Now suddenly it all made sense.
When I finally got to High School, I met up with a guy named Nargi. He's probably most responsible for schooling me on a good amount of the next few bands I picked up on. The Clash, Sex Pistols, PIL, Vibrators, etc…He had purple hair and a picture of Sid shooting dope on the back of his leather jacket that he painted himself. Doesn't sound like much to a city dweller, but our town was blue collar all the way! Another friend (formerly enemy), Steve Gorski, taught me a lot about the politics and hierarchy of the NYC punk scene. He's also the guy who took me to shows and partys. Don't get me wrong here, I wasn't a "hardcore punk" squatting in the city and stuff. I just liked the music a lot!!!! Besides, I was still listening to all the rock and metal I'd always listened to. But for all the new bands and ideas and shows that I saw the Ramones were my #1!!!
So in 1989 (9 years later!!) when a friend called to tell me the Ramones were auditioning bass players, I had to go. I figured it'd be a neat story to tell my grandkids about the day I played with the Ramones. Soon as I hung up with that guy, I threw my bass in my pickup and pointed it west towards NYC. An hour and a half later I walked through the doors of SIR studios on 25th St. I was the first one there. After a brief conversation with Monte Melnick (the tour manager) I was called in. I felt like I was going to meet Elvis! Stepped through the door and there was Johnny, with his back to me fiddling with his amp. I walked right up to him and shook his hand while introducing myself. No stuttering or sweaty palms or nothing. I then did the same with Mark. Suddenly I realized Joey wasn't there. Damn!, I thought. My one chance to meet him and he ain't here!!! Johnny asked what songs I knew and we went right into "Sedated". I played it better than I expected. When we finished the song, Johnny asked a couple questions and we played it (Sedated) again. Only this time, halfway through Joey walks in. Well if I'd have died of a brain hemorrhage right then, it wouldn't have mattered! To be in the same room with them was enough. After a short Q & A it was time for the next contestant to try his luck so I got back in my pickup and headed home. Now I figured that'd be the end of the story. However, a week later I got a call from Monte. The Ramones wanted me to come back. Which of course I did. Several times for a month or so. Until the day I got the call from Johnny Ramone himself informing me that it had been decided that I would be the new bassist for the Ramones.
Over the seven years I played with the Ramones, many fans have asked me what it was like. There is only one way to answer that question. Imagine yourself waiting in the wings of the stage while "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" plays over the screams of the crowd. You peek out and your stomach knots with anticipation. You're just about to step out on the stage when Johnny Ramone turns to you and says "Have a good show tonight."
Famous for short, fast and loud rock songs like "Beat on the Brat" and "I Wanna Be Sedated," The Ramones were the first punk band in the 1970s. They started in 1974, with all band members taking the surname Ramone. The original line-up included: vocalist Joey (b. Jeff Hyman, 19 May 1951); guitarist Johnny (b. John Cummings, 8 October 1951); bassist Dee Dee (b. Douglas Colvin, 18 September 1952); and drummer Tommy (Tom Erdelyi, b. 29 January 1952). They performed in New York City nightclubs along with other legendary bands such as Blondie, The Talking Heads and Television, and were among the first to get a record contract. Their eponymous debut album, released in 1976, is considered a classic of the punk genre and set the standard of simple pop songs delivered with raw energy. Although The Ramones never achieved mainstream financial success, they released 21 live and studio albums, had a devoted fan base and influenced countless bands, from The Clash and The Sex Pistols to Green Day and The Offspring.
In 1978 drummer Tommy was replaced by Marky (b. Marc Bell, 15 July 1956), who in 1983 was replaced by Richie (b. Richard Reinhardt, 11 August 1957), but returned to the band in 1987. Bassist Dee Dee left the band in 1989 and was replaced by C.J. (b. Christopher John Ward, 8 October 1965). The band officially broke up in 1996. Joey died of cancer in 2001, Dee Dee died of a drug overdose in 2002 and Johnny died of cancer in 2004. The Ramones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002... The band's slogan, often chanted during concerts, was "Gabba Gabba Hey" and came from their song "Pinhead.
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