Joey Ramone was buried under a steel-gray sky on Tuesday afternoon, at Hillside Cemetery in Lyndhurst, New Jersey, with the spires of Manhattan rising in the distance.
"At least he has a good view," said a visibly distraught Deborah Harry, of Blondie, who once cavorted with Joey in the photo pages of Punk magazine. Also among the dozens of weeping friends and family members on hand as a rabbi read Kaddish at the Ramones singer's graveside were Blondie guitarist Chris Stein, singer Joan Jett, original Ramones drummer Tommy Erdelyi and New York DJs Vin Scelsa and Dennis McNamara.
An hour or so earlier, at a service at Schwartz Brothers Memorial Chapels in the Ramones' old home town of Forest Hills, Queens, Joey's brother, Mickey Leigh, told the mourners that, while he could talk the whole day long about his late sibling, "my brother could have said it all in two minutes and 10 seconds."
Joey Ramone born Jeffrey Hyman on May 19, 1951 died at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan on Easter Sunday, after a seven-year battle with cancer (see "Punk Pioneer Joey Ramone Dead At 49"). One of the last musicians to speak to him was U2 frontman Bono, a longtime Ramones admirer, who called Joey in his hospital room on Good Friday. (Joey wasn't able to say much, but according to Mickey, "You could really see him perk up.")
On Sunday, when Mickey and his mother got a call from the hospital to come in, Mickey brought a copy of the current U2 album, All That You Can't Leave Behind, and slipped the CD into a little boombox in Joey's room. The track he played was Bono's own "In a Little While," which Mickey felt was a very spiritual song:
- In a little while
This hurt will hurt no more
I'll be home, love
In a little while
I won't be blown by every breeze
Friday night running to Sunday on my knees
When the song came to an end, Joey was gone. That night, at a concert in Portland, Oregon, U2 offered their audience a rendition of the Ramones' "I Remember You" ("a great, great love song," says Bono) and, for Joey, the old hymn "Amazing Grace."