Joey Ramone Would've Turned 63 Today
Tommy Ramone, who concocted the immortal chant, "Hey ho, let's go!" agrees with Matlock about the unusual ingredients these demented Queens quasi-criminals put together, that became known as "Punk." In fact, picturing The Ramones playing is like imagining Four Stooges cooking in a kitchen. Throwing in a few bizarre ingredients, in an attempt to make a certain dish. It looked weird. Smelled funny. But tasted so good!
"I originally planned to be the manager," says Tommy Ramone. "I got an idea to put a group together after seeing The New York Dolls. I knew these colorful kids in Forest Hills, and in early 1974 I decided they'd make a real interesting group. Johnny had played bass in high school. But later on, he'd quit and was working construction. Anyway, I bugged him and finally he went and got that Mosrite. I think it cost about $80.
"Then Dee Dee got his bass and Joey was on drums," Tommy continues. "It was a trio, basically. I found early on that Joey had the best singing voice. Dee Dee would go hoarse after three songs. Joey wasn't such a great drummer. So I figured, 'Why don't we make him the lead singer?"
Which led to the last piece of the Divine Plan
"We auditioned drummers, but none of them could get what we wanted. I'd show them what we were looking for. None of them understood it. So finally the guys said, 'Why don't you play drums?'"
It was 1974.
It was meant to be.
Forty years later, Tommy still sounds tickled.
"We were a little ahead of our times. Thirty years," he chuckles. "People have gotten a little more sophisticated [laughs] and we get bigger every year. I think, partly, because the kids who listened to The Ramones back then, are now in positions of power. Like advertising. So they're now using our songs and spreading the word."
"We're in The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame," says Tommy, proudly. "That's amazing. We're there, along with other great American musicians like Louis Armstrong. So, you know? I think it shows everybody something important. It turns out we knew what we were doing all along."
The Joey Ramone Birthday Bash will be held on May 19th at Bowery Electric. All net proceeds go to benefit the Joey Ramone Foundation for Lymphoma Research. It will feature Glen Matlock, Cheetah Chrome and Mickey Leigh. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door. More info here.