Joey Ramone passed away 17 years today. The news shocked the world: a pillar of the punk explosion across the globe, Ramone defied conventional thinking and challenge the concept of music.
The punk scene reached new heights in the 1970s. While The Sex Pistols, led by Johnny Rotten, were taking over the UK, Joey Ramone & the Ramones were putting New York on the map. While Rotten was confrontational and in-your-face, Ramone was solemn, but his message was still menacing. His ability to call upon a generation and speak to youth outcasted by society was powerful. While the Ramones wouldn’t see the commercial heights of The Clash or Sex Pistols, this underground mystique almost adds to their legacy. They weren’t for the masses, and fans wanted it to stay that way.
Joey Ramone was born Jeffry Hyman on May 19, 1951 and formed the band as a young adult in the early 70s. They started to form a song structure that had yet to exist–it was fast, the length was short, and the delivery always packed a megawatt punch. He started out as the drummer but moved to lead vocals prior to the release of their self-titled debut album.
Songs like “Blitzkrieg Bop”, “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” and “Rockaway Beach” failed to make any grounds on the charts, but the band built a reputation on the touring circuit.
The 80s would bring many member changes and some stylistic switch-ups, including ventures into heavy metal. Joey said the introduction of Richie Ramone was “the greatest thing to happen to the Ramones. He put the spirit back in the band.”
He would remain with the band until 1996 when the members parted ways.
Joey was diagnosed with lymphoma shortly after the dissolution of the band, and passed away six years of battling the disease on April 15, 2001. He was 49 years old.
Joey would posthumously be honoured at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame alongside the original members in 2002. Green Day performed a trio of Ramones songs to honour the punk pioneers, further cementing the influence Joey would have on future pop punk.
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