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My Ramones Story
In Memory of Joey Ramone

by R. Scott Bolton - April 2001

    The recent passing of Joey Ramone has left an irreplaceable void in the world of rock'n'roll. The Ramones were pioneers, rebels and pure-at-heart rockers and Joey was there from the beginning. 

    It has been said that there are really only two bands: The Ramones and Motorhead. Obviously, that statement is meant as a tribute to the influence those bands had on rock music. The outpouring of shock, sadness and loss that followed in the days after Joey's death are evidence of his impact on the myriad musicians who shared his love for the music. To say that Ramone will be missed is a understatement of mammoth proportions.

    The Ramones have been one of my very favorite bands since I first heard "Beat on the Brat" on the Dr. Demento show way too many years ago. I looked forward to each of their new albums eagerly and - although there are some I like better than others - for my money, there isn't a bad egg in the bunch. Strangely, I never found the time to see the band live even though friends who were going themselves asked me along more than once (our staff writer Pud among them). Thus, back in 1996, it was with saddened shock that I discovered that the last Ramones show - scheduled to be at the new Blockbuster Club in Los Angeles - was sold out in minutes and I was without a ticket.

    I tried to put the thought out of my mind. I had been a Ramones fan for most of my life and had never seen the band live. It was a bummer, but there was nothing I could do about it. I listened to Joey on various radio programs talking about how it was really the band's last gig and that he was pretty sure they would never reunite. He said that the Ramones' split wasn't like other bands; when they said it was over, it was over.

    I remember sitting at work the evening of the show, listening to Joey with Rikki Rachtman on KLSX-FM in Los Angeles, when the announcement was made: The Blockbuster Club had not passed muster with the L.A. Fire Department and, hence, the Ramones final show was being moved to the somewhat larger (and much more legendary) Palace in Hollywood. But the best news was that about 200 more tickets were being released to the public.

    The boss had already gone home for the day so I closed up shop and drove immediately to the local Tower Records. I rushed in and asked for two tickets to the Ramones. Sure enough, I got them. But that was only the first part of the battle. Now I had to convince my friend - who wasn't much of a rocker himself - that we were going to the Ramones show rather than the preview screening of "Escape From L.A." that we had already scored tickets to. I knew he wasn't going to be happy but I also knew that - if I promised to buy his dinner and his liquor for the evening - that he couldn't say no. He didn't and we were on our way.

    I was finally going to see the Ramones live.

    I reviewed that show the following week in my weekly rock column, Rough Edge, for the local Ventura County Reporter newspaper. (Click here to read that review). I received more e-mails and telephone calls for that column than anything I ever wrote in my six years with that newspaper. It was an evening I'll never forget. And it's an evening that shines in my mind's eye - especially now - as one of the most important rock'n'roll events I've ever attended. I spent over $100 on merchandise that evening, snapping up "Last Show" t-shirts and other goodies - and my bar bill (thanks to my reluctant friend) was at least another $100. But it was worth every penny. We had a great time and the Ramones were nothing short of awesome. To this day, my friend thanks me for taking him along, even though he barely knew anything about the Ramones when we entered the theater that night.

    Joey Ramone and the Ramones helped sculpt the face of rock'n'roll as we know it today. Rock will survive without Joey Ramone but it can't help but be somewhat weaker with the loss.


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Copyright 2001 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
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