While close friends and family of Joey Ramone honored the punk-rock icon at his funeral Tuesday, other music figures spoke out publicly about the importance and influence of the Ramones frontman.
Ramone died of lymphatic cancer on Easter Sunday at age 49 (see “Punk Pioneer Joey Ramone Dead At 49″ ) and was buried Tuesday at Hillside Cemetery in Lyndhurst, New Jersey (see “Joey Ramone Laid To Rest” ).
“I can firmly say that rock ‘n’ roll will not be the same without Joey Ramone alive,” Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong said Tuesday. “The one thing no one will ever be able to [capture] was how cool he was. He was rock ‘n’ roll coolness. The glasses. The leather jacket. And he barely moved a finger. He just stood there.”
Armstrong first heard the Ramones at age 9 when he saw their movie “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School.” “To me, what I saw was the perfect rock band,” he said. “They had songs that just stuck in your head, just like a hammer they banged right into your brain.”
Years later, Armstrong named his first son, now 6, Joey. Green Day drummer Tre Cool named his daughter, born a month after Armstrong’s son, Ramona. Green Day recently recorded a cover of the Ramones’ “Outsider” to use as a B-side.
“There’s a real romance to the Ramones,” Armstrong said. “Those lyrics. It wasn’t just about being a meathead punk-rocker. It was also a great date too. If you think about every person who has been inspired by the Ramones, directly and indirectly, you’re talking about half of what you hear on the radio today. A lot of that has to do with the spirit and passion Joey Ramone always, always had. He never was jaded. He was never one of those guys who would go around and say, ‘More should have happened to me.’”
Among the bands the Ramones inspired were U2. “In Dublin in 1977 when I saw Joey singing I knew nothing else mattered to him. Pretty soon nothing else mattered to me,” the Irish rock band’s singer, Bono, said in a statement released Wednesday.
“The Ramones stopped the music world long enough for U2 and the other garage bands to get on,” Bono said. “They invented something … the idea that your limitations were what made you … your street, your neighborhood, the clothes on your back, your record collection was the size of your universe.”
Bono called Ramone in his hospital room on Good Friday, and U2′s song “In a Little While” was playing in the room when Ramone died two days later.
Even closer to Joey, at least at one time, was Ramones bassist Dee Dee Ramone (born Douglas Colvin). Although the two had not spoken for several years, Dee Dee said he has been mourning the loss of his old pal.
“I know it was really hard being in the Ramones, and I don’t think I appreciated them enough when I was in them, and I took advantage of a lot of things,” Dee Dee said. “Whatever the situation, we all need each other. With me, John and Joey, it was a real good combination, and without us together, it’s not going to be the same.”
Joey was a hardworking musician, Dee Dee said, who should have stopped recording and working with other bands when he fell ill more than a year ago. Instead, Ramone finished his first solo album (see “Joey Ramone Solo Album Due Later This Year” ).
“It’s hard when you’re a musician to understand that,” Dee Dee said. “You don’t understand it when you’re sick, and you just don’t want to stop, so I’m sure he probably felt that way.”
Joe Strummer, singer of influential British punk band the Clash, said he listened to the entire Ramones catalog in his Somerset, England, home after he heard of Ramone’s death.
“This music not only stands the test of time, it totally obliterates everything before it and after it,” Strummer said in a statement. “He made the primetime 6 o’clock newscast in Britain, triggering a strange sense of pride in all the rock ‘n’ rollers watching, as if the aboveground world was finally going to accord Joey the status he always deserved.”
Strummer got to know Ramone when their bands played together throughout the late ’70s.
“Offstage, just hanging out, he was the funniest kind of wisecracking guy. Very sharp, with a strictly dry sense of humor,” Strummer said. “It was all kind of hidden behind his shyness, but then it would suddenly pop out.”
Lemmy Kilmister, singer of English metal band Motörhead, met Joey in the late ’70s. Motörhead recorded a song called “R.A.M.O.N.E.S.” — which the Ramones later covered — and Kilmister appeared onstage at one of the punk band’s final shows.
“It’s a bad day for rock and roll, it’s a bad day for me,” Lemmy said in a statement. “He was one of the most underrated artists. He understood rock and roll.”
Belinda Carlisle of the Go-Go’s said she saw the Ramones live 50 times or more. “They were one of the most influential bands for me,” she said in a statement. “[Joey] was so unique and wonderful.”
Added Green Day bassist Mike Dirnt in a statement: “Thanks always comes a day late and a dollar short, but my respect has and will always be there for the band that showed me that simple songs and a simple life could make you happy. … And the kid in the Ramones T-shirt will always be cool.”