By Ginger | April 17, 2001
So I got home late Easter Monday from a weekend away having shite-loads of drunken fun in the country. Tired, and more than a little bilious, I nabbed a quick look at the weekend’s mail before catching up on some much needed kip. I saw something about Joey Ramone dying on Easter Sunday and drifted off into a peaceful sleep, interrupted only by dreams of being a kid and getting into a love affair with my first band. Yeah, I loved KISS when I was a child-sized-kiddy (in the way a kid loves Superman, though I personally couldn’t stand the fucker myself), and I later loved Motorhead for the simple reason that they played louder than anyone I’d ever seen before, and they were also British, therefore guaranteeing me a ticket to see ’em live at least a few times a year… but Ramones?
Well, it was vastly different. For a start, I already looked like one of them. Secondly, they played ‘pop’ which I always thought was much more ‘punk’ than pissed-off-sounding. And they had long hair (which I also saw as being ‘punk as fuck’, y’know? I mean my mother wanted me to have short hair!). They also shared something with KISS in that they didn’t have a dodgy-looking member in the group. They all looked like Ramones. They were also the only band that sounded exactly like I imagined them sounding, purely by looking at the cover picture.
I can’t count the amount of times I physically stood up for Ramones in those ‘whose band are the coolest’ situations. No one I knew liked them, which kinda made them even more of a find. I used to get the piss endlessly taken for, supposedly, “looking a little like Joey Ramone,” until irony struck and I got one of South Shields’ first known (to me anyway) blow jobs from a cute lil’ Ramones fanatic because I “looked a little like Joey Ramone.”
My first concert in London was Ramones. I sneaked into the venue via the girls’ toilets. My first band played Ramones covers. You could sound good playing that shit because they played at roughly the same standard as you. As years moved on, my love for Ramones grew as large as the holes in my jeans. (Dunno how, but my jeans also always went at the knees first – stop yer sniggering at the back).
I kinda lost them after Subterranean Jungle, and consider Pleasant Dreams to be their last truly great album (hey, I’m older than you, remember?). But classic videos for I Wanna Be Sedated (new version) and Psychotherapy kept me hanging on like the fan I always was, waiting for them to get their sense of humour back. Sadly, they turned into a Heavy Rock band and I stopped buying their albums – there were too many po-faced bloody rock bands filling up the 80’s, y’know? Still, after all these years I could look at photos and still get a rush (like that recent Mojo magazine spread with the ‘ripped jeans’ cover), and I never missed a concert if I could help it as Ramones were the greatest live band of all time. Their crowd were the most fucked up looking bunch of misfits ever to peacefully share an evening together. And Joey just got more and more bizarre, continually reinventing the English language until Blitzkrieg Bop became ‘Blleeeeeeeeeeee-bup’.
I was lucky enough to actually meet Joey Ramone at a Backyard Babies show in New York when The Yo-Yo’s were supporting. He had enough time to talk to every fan that had anything to say to him. I thanked him for being such a huge inspiration both visually and musically, and Danny shouted / sprayed into the side of his head how “none of us would be here now if it wasn’t for this fucker – no one is fit to lick his shit.” He stood patiently, showing not the slightest concern, or fear, about this pissed-up, tattooed Geordie yelling into his ear in a language that must have resembled dogs barking mixed with live Joey Ramone-isms.
Joey was a very rare thing in this business. A smart, talented and unique music fanatic, living out a dream until his last day alive.
Death is only the beginning. Play the records and have a drink for him when you come see The Wildhearts in June. You wouldn’t be there, we wouldn’t be there, had he not been there before us.
For everything. Joey Ramone, you will never be forgotten.