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Birmingham, UK 1980

1996 — Joey Remembers Rock'n'Roll Radio
The Ramones are just the most impressive and cool band going these days. At least according to Joey Ramone, but he might be a touch biased. Of course, you can't argue with him too hard. Not only does he Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio, he reshaped it. Twenty some years ago in such ripe locations as the basement of famed New York club, CBGB's, punk was born in a big bang called the Ramones. Since then the fast beat, loud guitars and Joey's vocals haven't changed, but the audiences have.

«The older ones died off, got rheumatism all that stuff … deafness, whatever. Now it’s a whole crop of youngsters,» says Joey from his hotel in that hotbed of «crazy chaos and mayhem,» — Utah.

And the Ramones are about to die off themselves. Their latest effort, «Adios Amigos,» is the hang it up album for the band, bringing to an end a legacy of punk that has touched musicians for decades.

The Ramones were punk before there was such a thing. Sterling Morrison the late guitarist from the equally influential Velvet Underground once said that punk bands «are the littlest, skinniest guys I ever saw in my life. And they’re copying this bad attitude. So maybe they deserve the attitude „punk“ which is not serious bad, it’s sort of wanna be bad.»

And maybe Joey Ramone, who has a lot of his own to say about wanna be’s, deserves to make statements like: «Our sound kind of has become the foundation for the punk movement… Some people have done some cool unique things with it and some people have this mass commercialism that’s called ’alternative music’ that everyone kind of sounds like. The foundation is the Ramones or Nirvana, the singers sound like a cross between Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam and [Scott Weiland] of Stone Temple Pilots.»

Even though Joey, 43, limped on stage in Chicago with his ankle taped, it’s strange to hear a punker sounding like a grumpy grandfather. «All these bands they don’t have a clue what they’re doing. They’re manufactured. Their management’s tell them what to do or how to play and how to dress. It ain’t the same world it was when we were growing up.»

No, Joey, it’s not, but what has changed in your humble opinion? «Things are different these days especially with computers. Everyone is plugged in. You’re not left in the dark anymore the way it was back in another time. People are more enlightened. Some people anyway.»

Of course, that isn’t to say that Joey has completely embraced the technology himself. He writes a column for the Internet music magazine, Addicted to Noise but he’s not quite online himself. He has a Macintosh laptop that they bought him, but about all he can say about it at the moment is: «It’s a cool looking machine.» Does he have an email address? «I guess I do…» So the world has changed a lot in 20 years, even if the Ramones’ sound hasn’t one bit. But hey, they can get away with it. After all, as Joey says, «Everybody wants to be like the Ramones.»

Thompson Target Media
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