Friday, September 17, 2004

 

Johnny Ramone 1948 - 2004

I've always loved The Ramones more than any other punk band, (except maybe The Clash), they stormed through the stagnant rock scene of the mid-seventies like a whirlwind of raw power and unbridled primitive energy. Right there at the centre of it all was Johnny Ramone with his piledriving guitar, if there was ever one guy who was such a huge influence on an entire scene - it was Johnny, it was like he defined the Punk Rock slogan - "Here's three chords, now form a band!" Almost single-handed he inspired thousands of snotty kids to pick up a guitar, and make music - and of course he had the greatest fringe in rock'n'roll ever.

1977 - 'Rocket To Russia' came out in the same week as my 18th birthday, we had the album playing on repeat all day, whilst drinking red wine, pogoing & slam-dancing around my seedy bedsit room in Southsea.

1981 - Only time I ever actually managed to see The Ramones, was at the Lyceum on the Strand in London, sold out, down the front screaming along "Gabba, Gabba, Hey!", slamming, leaping around. They were everything I knew they would be, no songs over 2 minutes, the 1,2,3,4 intros, Joey's unbelieveably uncontrived cool.
Then of course, one of the greatest teenage-delinquency comedies ever, 1979's "Rock'n'Roll High School", with the band and the delectable PJ Soles.

I actually got to meet Dee Dee once about ten years ago, when he was in London (recording at my friend Steve Mack's studio in Hackney) - unfortunately by this point the years of heroin abuse, had definitely left him a very damaged individual. Sometimes it's best if you keep a bit of distance from your heroes, to avoid being let down.

Now they're nearly all gone - Johnny died in Los Angeles on the 14th, after a five-year battle with prostate cancer at the age of 55, Joey back in 2001 from lymphatic cancer and Dee Dee a couple of years later from a suspected drug overdose. Just leaving, from the original line-up, drummer Tommy Ramone. All of which makes me feel really sad, when you think that these guys who provided such a huge part of the soundtrack to my teenage years & early twenties, have all passed away without even making it into their mid-fifties. However let's hope that all the great songs that they left us will live on - and whenever the music scene starts to get a bit stale, then some snotty teenage punk, will get to hear Johnny's guitar for the first time, and think "Fuck it, lets form a band!"
Johnny Ramone
Website: www.ramones.com

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