The Ramones played a huge part in my life as a musician. When I first heard the sounds of bands like Twisted Sister, Motley Crue, and Iron Maiden I knew that I wanted to be a guitar player. When I got my first guitar I was suddenly hit with the gigantic ass hand of reality. Guess what kid? You’re not going to be playing guitar like those guys just yet. It was heartbreaking to me but for two years I worked my ass off, learned my chords (thanks Mel Bay), and eventually learned to pick out songs by ear. Even then being able to play like my heroes just seemed impossible and I felt like it would be forever before I’d be ready to have a band. Well, all of that changed when a good friend of mine came over with a copy of The Ramones debut album and the album Rocket to Russia.
When he put this record on my record player, the first thing I though was, “What it God’s fuck is this?” I just couldn’t even wrap my head around it and by the time I could even comprehend what the fuck it was I was hearing the album was ½ over. The songs sounded like old 60’s songs but played at a much louder volume, a faster tempo, and a guitar that sounded like it was plugged into a busted up Marshall stack. What was there to not love about this band? I loved the singer, I loved the songwriting and most of all, I loved that it sounded like music that I could play to a “t.” Me and this friend of mine spent the day learning “Cretin Hop”, “Blitzkrieg Bop”, “Beat on the Brat”, and “Teenage Lobotomy” and next thing we knew we had learned a sets worth of Ramones songs. From there we recruited another friend of ours to play drums and voila, my first band was born.
Over the years my musicianship got better. I learned my instrument, practiced hard and slowly progressed out of Ramones territory into playing in a metal band that wrote all our own material which then lead into a 20 year long life as a folksinger/songwriter. I look back as far as I can and I am forever indebted to the Ramones. It was the Ramones that gave me that confidence boost to jump in and not be scared or intimidated by music. If Iron Maiden made it seem impossible, the Ramones made it seem possible without the shadow of a doubt. The Ramones was that first step that got me to where I am today and without them I don’t know that I would’ve persevered through those hard, learning times as a young musician. Through them I learned that I could do this and if I worked hard at it the rest would come.
Over the years I was lucky enough to see 7 Ramones shows, I got to meet Joey Ramone, I got told to “get out of the fucking way” by Johnny Ramone, and I got to have a great interview and hang out with CJ Ramone. I never had that opportunity to see that classic lineup but as a huge fan, those first three albums were crucial and three of the most important albums to me. One by one it seemed that the Ramones were dying and leaving this world. First it was Joey, then it was Dee Dee, and then Johnny. The Ramones were survived by the brainchild and former leader/drummer Tommy Ramone. Even though he had left the band so long ago, his love for the band and the band’s music never went away and he still embodied the heart and soul that was The Ramones.
When I heard that original Ramones drummer Tommy Ramone had passed away I immediately found myself smiling. You’re probably reading this and thinking, “That’s kinda fucked up dude. Why would you smile after learning that someone had died?” Well, it wasn’t that he was dead but it was the fact that finally all of the original Ramones were reunited on the other side. That’s kind of a heavy thought when you think about it but we all knew that this would pretty much be the only way they would ever get back together and now they are all together.. . and probably fucking killing each other all over again.