"This is insanity.  This could be the end.  This is insanity.  Farewell my friend."
-Ramones

HEY HO HE WENT:

A TRIBUTE TO JOEY
RAMONE
Written by:  Alex Sandell

On April 15th, 2001, Jesus Christ came back from the dead.  In even more tragic news, Joey Ramone passed away at 2:40 PM, in a New York City hospital.  Joey died of cancer.

I was first introduced to Joey Ramone at the tender age of 16 when a friend loaned me a cassette by the almighty Ramones.  My sorry headbanger ass had no idea, at the time, how much that cassette was about to change my life.  Within a month I had bought, or recorded, nearly everything the Ramones had released.  Within 2 months, I was no longer a "headbanger" - - I was a "punk rocker" - - and like Sheena before me, I never looked back.   I also never forgot about the Ramones; the band that introduced me to punk, and the band that introduced punk to the world.  

There was no such thing as "punk rock" before the Ramones.  I'm sorry to burst your spiked-hair, snarled-lip, eyebrow-pierced bubble by telling you this, but The Sex Pistols didn't start punk, and, *gasp* neither did Green Day.  It was the Ramones.  

When "Blitzkrieg Bop" roared to life, on the Ramones' 1976 self-titled release, and Joey's incredible voice blasted through our speakers with the Ramones' battle cry of, "HEY HO LET'S GO", the entire galaxy shook, and any of us with any taste jumped on board for the rock n' roll ride of our lives.  No one quite knew where the fuck we were going, but we all knew it had to be a fuck of a lot better than where we currently were (disco).  Music was changed forever.  

Now that its founder has died, 25 years later, does this ride called "punk" screech to a sudden halt?  Hell no!  Joey set out a course for us so powerful that even his death is a mere speed bump.  The biggest speed bump of them all, but a speed bump, nonetheless.  Joey might be gone, and he will be sorely missed, but he never gave up on punk rock when he was here, and he sure as fuck wouldn't want any of us to, now. 

Why would he? 

If it hadn't been for him, none of us would even be "here."  "Here" would be "there" and we'd never make it "there," because we'd be stuck "here," and "here" would be a horrible wasteland of poppy crap and elevator music that idiotic DJ's and VJ's would sell us as "rock."  Of course we'd buy it, because we'd never know what "rock" really was, because all "rock" would be over "there," in that place we'd never quite reach, because Joey Ramone was never born and the Ramones didn't quite make it.

We were one band away from a lifetime of rock n' roll ignorance.  And, in this case, ignorance would not be bliss.  The Ramones had us screaming how badly we "wanna be well," but none of us would ever know how sick we could have been without them.

So, if you've ever dug a punk song, a hardcore riff, an industrial scream, or obsessed over some post-"punk" band, or are a big fan of "alternative," you can thank Joey Ramone and the Ramones, because NONE of it would be here without that man and that band.  Absolutely none. 

Now the man whose voice gave voice to 1 billion voices, and the raging bands behind them, is dead.  We are all indebted to him for the music he gave us, the bands that we're in, and the songs that we worship.  So, let us keep going, but, before we do, I think all of us should stop and put a single rose, a tube of glue and a pair of Converse All Star shoes in the Pet Sematary, and take a couple of minutes to remember the man who finally made rock and roll real. Joey would be the first one to tell us that anything more than a couple of minutes is just too damn long.

All text is ęcopyright 2001 Alex Sandell [All Rights Reserved].

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