Rob Zombie Helming Ramones Tribute Album

Theatrical hard rocker teams with Ramones guitarist Johnny Ramone to produce LP.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a more passionate supporter of the legacy of punk pioneers the Ramones than Rob Zombie.

“Really, the Ramones are the greatest American band,” Zombie said Tuesday. “I just think that what they did was so simple and so stripped down and so to-the-point that you can’t mess with it.”

It’s fitting, then, that the theatrical hard rocker is teaming with Ramones guitarist Johnny Ramone to produce a tribute album dedicated to the seminal New York punks. Zombie said he plans to hit the studio in January to record a cover of the 1976 Ramones nugget “Blitzkrieg Bop” for the album. He also said the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Metallica, the Offspring, Eddie Vedder, Rancid and Joe Strummer have expressed interest in the project, though he noted that the album is still very much in the early stages.

“Who knows who will end up doing it, but those are the folks who are semi-committed to it,” Zombie said.

After drafting the four-chord blueprint for punk in the mid-’70s, the Ramones enjoyed a lengthy career that spanned more than two decades before they broke up in 1996. Frontman and beloved punk icon Joey Ramone had been working on solo material prior to his death in April of this year (see “Punk Pioneer Joey Ramone Dead At 49″ ).

“We were trying to get [the tribute album] out on the one-year anniversary of Joey’s death [on April 15], but at the same time, we don’t want to put it out until it’s perfect,” Zombie said. “We kind of want it to be the be-all, end-all Ramones tribute record. A lot of times, tribute records are just thrown together, but we really want to make this special.”

Zombie does hope to have the project wrapped up and in stores next year. No matter when the tribute arrives, Zombie’s sure that the Ramones and their music will remain as fresh as they were when the band first took the stage at New York’s CBGB’s in 1974.

“It’s four guys in leather jackets and jeans. They could look so dated now, but they don’t,” Zombie said. “They still look cool, they still sound cool. There’s something so simple about it. It’s like when you see early Elvis or Mickey Mouse or anything that’s just so simple that it seems so timeless. I don’t know what inspired those four guys at that moment, but I never get sick of listening to them, whereas most stuff from that time period makes me nauseous.”