Addicted To Noise special correspondent Joey Ramones reports: Two years ago
there was this big show at Carnegie Hall. It was a tribute to the music of
Pete Townshend sung by Roger Daltry, and was billed as taking place on Roger
Daltry’s birthday. As a big Who fan, I wanted to go, but when I heard Four
Non Blondes and the Spin Doctors were playing and there was no guest list and
a pair of tickets was $600, I said “Fuck that!” To my surprise, my friend
the filmmaker/video director extraordinaire George Seminara, (Ramones, Snow,
King Missile, etc.) called me up and asked if I wanted to be his date for the
Daltry show, and I said, “Yeah, great.”
It was a torrential rainy night, we went in, and sat upstairs surrounded by
Roger Daltry’s new record label. It was a real sleeper– literally. The high
points of the evening were definitely Eddie Vedder, who came out with an
electric guitar and sang three Who songs by himself, Pete Townshend, who
played two songs without Daltry, and Alice Cooper singing “I’m A Boy,”
which was pretty funny. The Chieftains were really cool too. When the show
was over George woke me up to go to the private birthday party for Daltry at
the La Bar Bat on W. 57th Street.
The party was in a private room in the back of the club. Very exclusive. We
were in the hoi polloi section. Daltry came in and I gave him a copy of
Acid Eaters, for his birthday, with a birthday message inside. Then
Eddie Vedder walked in with all the paparazzi trailing after him. When Roger
Daltry saw the paparazzi, he went over and put his arm around Eddie to make
it look like they were buddy-buddy–everything that Eddie hates. So Eddie
grabbed me and pulled into the picture as well, which made me feel good.
After the smoke cleared, he came and sat down next to me. I didn’t know what
to expect because you hear a lot of shit, but actually he’s a real nice guy.
I was pleasantly surprised, he’s down to earth, grounded, and a real rock
and roll fan. A real Who fan, he got wangled into performing this night . He
was telling me this story about his first time in New York City. It was
winter and being a surfer, it reminded him of this song–he couldn’t think
of the title. I said “New York’s A Lonely Town ” by the Tradewinds. He said,
“Yeah, that’s it. “So on my way to Phoenix , Arizona for our shows with
Pearl Jam (earlier this month), I decided to surprise him with a little
gift, I figured it would kind of give him a kick.
I called my editor, Jaan Uhelszki about locating the original vinyl single.
She tracked down Jonathan L., the columnist for Album Network and
former program director for KUKQ in Phoenix, who knows everything about
vinyl–and what he doesn’t know his friend Johnnie B., (KUKQ) would.
(What’s with all these initials?) Johnnie suggested that Jaan get in touch
with a store called Prickly Pair and ask for a woman named Lorraine. When
Jaan called Lorraine, she was told that they had two copies –one was six
dollars and the other was four dollars and the six dollars one was in better
shape than the four dollars one. What a surprise. She told Jaan she would
hold them for me.
Problem was, I didn’t have any wheels. So I suggested that if maybe somebody
could run them over, I’d get them into the show. Lorraine said these two guys
who were brothers were going to come over to my hotel with it, and all they
wanted was an autograph. They came over, they really were brothers, they were
real nice guys, and were all excited. Lorraine and her husband wanted me to
sign the other single for the record store. I signed their shirts, and got
them tickets to the show, and I signed the record, ” to Lorraine and Roger
at the Prickly Pair.” The record was the original 45 vinyl single, on the Red
Bird label. The real deal. They didn’t charge me for the record, which
flipped me out.
Everything was going real nice so far. The Embassy Suite, the hotel that we
were staying at was really pretty, it was like a rain forest. It wasn’t that
it looked so much like a rain forest , but it had that quality. It was
totally relaxing, with a pool and a hot tub that looked like it was
naturally made. When we arrived they were having a record breaking heat wave.
It had been 106 degrees earlier but when we got there it was only 104
degrees. Shira Wild stopped by the hotel; she’s the president of the
Arizona chapter of the Ramones fan club. A long time fanatic . She was cool.
We then we drove to the venue, the Veterans Memorial Coliseum for our 5:00
PM sound check. All the Pearl Jam crew and techs were really great. They
gave us everything we wanted, it wasn’t like we were just an opening act. It
wasn’t billed that way either, we were billed as “The Special Guest Stars.”
They made us feel totally welcomed. Years ago, in the early 80’s we played
the same venue with the Kinks who pretty much screwed us.
On stage Pearl Jam and crew had all kinds of ceremonial objects. They had
some stuffed cows, and big brass urns which were later lit, and burned
through-out the show. The cows were noticeable, but only noticeable if you
were doing a soundcheck. That was the basis of their stage-lighting. Their
stage show is so low key, but it’s very cool. The fires were burning on top
of the amplifiers, like an eternal flame. And at the tech’s stations were
candles, and more urns which were also lit. I guess this stuff makes them
feel comfortable. It seems like a personal comfort thing, like putting dice
on the dashboard. I was going to ask Eddie about them, but then I thought
maybe they’re like sacred cows.
Eddie came over and was real warm and friendly. Really himself, no
bullshit, no airs, no crap. So I said, “I got a gift for you.” I told him I
remembered the story he told me at the Daltry party , and I gave him the
single. He was real touched that I remembered the incident. He said that
having the Ramones opening up for Pearl Jam was a little strange for them.
Implying that it should be the other way around, and that having us on the
show was “gracing them.” I told him that we really appreciated them asking us
on. And both John and I told him that they were the first band of that
magnitude to ask us to be on their shows. He told John that it was a “dubious
honor” to have us on the show, and being such a big Ramones fan, it would
take some getting used to.
Eddie was saying he wants to lay low, do some recording when Pearl Jam
finishes these dates. He said he’s going to stay in New Orleans, there’s a
studio there where he’s gonna do some work. John went over to Eddie and
immediately starting to talk to him about baseball, Eddie’s into baseball
too. As I walked into the cafeteria, Jack Irons, Pearl Jam drummer, and
former member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, walked out wearing a striped
bathrobe. He was real cool and genuinely happy to have us play. We ate
dinner. I had a very tasty fettucine alfredo, vegetables and peanut butter
pie that was toooo good. Grabbed a cup of coffee, and started warming up for
the show. We were going on 7:30. It was sold out in advance; in front of the
stage there was a pit, and it was mobbed. The fans were packed in so tightly
there wasn’t even any room to move. As we were walking on stage John
mentioned, “Even if they hate us, they can’t leave.”
(To be continued….)