I saved up for weeks to buy Too Tough To Die on import, and was so excited when I took it back home. The first time I took it out of its sleeve to play on my Dansette mono record player, my tiny white kitten who was also excited jumped up onto the vinyl as it spun round on the turntable. The cat and I then embarked on an exciting game of hide and seek while Joey's voice sounded out, poignant and raw and scratched. Later, we created a cartoon based around my love for the Ramones and (Alan McGee
inspired) hatred for Cherry Red that culminated with me bursting into the Cherry Red offices with a sub-machine gun and spraying everyone dead.
London Electric Ballroom, 29/2/80.
One of the first times I saw Ramones was also one of only two times I ever took my shirt off while dancing. I was so hot, and the whole venue was going berserk, jumping up and down. In the distance, I spied one other person with his shirt off. So I thought I'd pogo my way over to him, so we could dance together. It was my brother, the one who turned me onto the Ramones and pop music back in 1976, the same brother I once mistook for Joey in a photograph in Sounds that famous shot of Joey cuddling up in bed with Debbie Harry. (I wasn't very observant back then.) I didn't even know he was at the show.
On the way back, down the underground, I led the chants of 'Hey ho let's go!'
New York, 1990.
I'm recording a single for Sub Pop. More importantly, I'm interviewing Joey Ramone for Melody Maker. (This, after I've had several dreams where I've been watching the Ramones down the front of a tiny pub
venue: myself and no one else. They're incredible, of course but Dee Dee, pissed off with the lack of attention, announces he's had enough and he's out of here! Two weeks before I interview Joey, Dee Dee leaves the band.) Joey is like the tallest, sweetest man I've ever met. He shows me his stack of 60s psychedelic art posters, and plays me tracks from a projected solo
(country) album. I ask him if he'd like to come down to the studio and sing back up on my a cappella version of 'Rockaway Beach'. He agrees, but I guess he spoke to his manager or something in the interim because he never showed. Instead, he phoned up the studio and spent 15 minutes making up some really lame apology...
'Hey Jerry? It's Joey here. I'm real sorry, but I can't make it down to the studio today. Take it Dee Dee...'
I'm telling you, if I'd had a tape machine on me, I'd have taped the sucker!
I'm passed out on the ground, among the sand and dirt, 115 in the shade. Mark Lanegan is pouring water over me, in a desperate attempt to keep me alive. Joey Ramone walks by and tells me 'Hey man! Don't rock the ground!'
Later, I can be seen dancing wildly down the front, banging the heads of kids half my age together, and screaming, 'This is the Ramones, you fuckers! Dance! DANCE!'
I've sneaked the first Ramones album down from my brother's stash and am listening to it on the family radiogram. It sounds strange, oddly tuneful in a buzzsaw way. My mother comes into the room, and utters the immortal words 'but where are the tunes?' The tunes? There were bloody millions of them, not only that, but the Ramones had thoughtfully left spaces where you could fill in your own on the top. I knew right then that anything able to create an instant generation gap was a good, a decent, and a proper thing.
I'll miss you, Joey.
© Everett True 2001