So, you're Joey Ramone, it's Christmas, then it's New Year's and for the first
time in your adult life you don't have the rest of your crew around and there
are no more Ramones gigs to be played. So, whaddya do? You get some other cats
together and play some impromptu shows, you start thinking about '97 and you
drop in to help out some old friends with their gigs.
We called Ramone the
other day to find out what he's been up to now that his 20-year crazy train has
finally skidded to a halt (although we still don't believe it's over, over),
what he has in store for '97 and when that damn Ramones movie will finally come
out. Ramone said he blasted off the Christmas season by playing a legal defense
benefit for Coney Island High (the hot NYC club, co-owned by members of
D-Generation, had run into a bit of trouble lately due to a disagreement with
one of their co-owners) on Dec. 20 with an all-star New York underground band.
With Ramone handling vocals, the band was rounded out by Dean Richards
from Backseat Driver, Michael Wildwood (drums), Jesse Malin (guitar) and Danny
Sage (guitar) of D-Gen, in addition to Curtis of the Hillbilly Peckers on bass
and Holly Ramos from Fur on guitar and vocals. Ramone told us the impromptu
band performed, "Merry Christmas, I Don't Wanna Fight Tonight," "Something to
Do," and "Questioningly," a ballad from Road To Ruin that the D-Gen guys
insisted he play, although Joey admitted he "couldn't even remember the words"
and had to re-learn them that night.
They also covered Darlene Love's
"Christmas Baby Please Come Home," which...
They also covered Darlene Love's "Christmas Baby Please
Come Home," which featured a "sax solo and some doo-wop back-up singers." Also
on the bill (of course) were The Independents, the horror punk/Elvis/ska/freak
band from Florence, South Carolina whose album Ramone plans to co-produce with
Daniel Raye in Feb. Other highlights included sets by D-Gen and Ronnie Spector,
who performed her signature tune "Be My Baby," Coyote Shivers, Malin and
Wildwood backing Lenny Kaye on "Gloria" and "Rock and Roll Nigger," the
Pristeens, Motor Chronic, Backseat Driver and Wayne/Jayne County as house DJ.
Next up for Joey was a gig backing Ronnie Spector at her annual Bottom
Line Christmas shows on Dec. 27th and 28th. "We did a duet on 'Baby I Love
You,' and I was a surprise guest for all four shows," said Ramone with pride,
still high about the prospect of entering the studio with Spector next month to
record songs he hopes will secure the legend a recording contract. "We've had
one rehearsal in the studio and it was mind-blowing," said Ramone. "She's so
amazing. Nobody sings like that anymore, with so much life and enthusiasm. It's
such a change from all these mopes today." Spotted in the Bottom Line crowd:
Eddie Vedder and his wife Beth Liebling (Hovercraft), Jesse Malin and his
family and gross-out director John Waters.
Ramone said he chilled out on
New Year's, "a stupid night," perhaps saving his energy for an upcoming
Valentine's Day benefit he's going to perform for the New York AIDS charity,
God's Love We Deliver, which provides hot meals for home-bound people with
AIDS. Set for Feb. 14 at Coney Island High, the 4th annual show will feature
Ramone with a new line-up of his band the Resistance, Ronnie Spector, the
Independents (do you see a pattern developing here?), Black Flamingo, the
Sisters Grimm, Coyote Shivers, the Invaders and more. (For more information or
to donate, call (212) 260-1484).
As for the still-unfinished Ramone's
feature-length Ramones movie we told you about several months ago, Ramone said
it's still moving ahead, but is currently hung up on "copyright stuff" related
to some archival footage the filmmakers want to use. "We just got an interview
with Alan Arkush, who directed Rock and Roll High School, which just
came out on video for the first time. It's cool, it's got an introduction by
Roger Corman. Who was interviewed by some guy named Leonard Maltin. Corman said
it was his fifth favorite film that he owns," said Ramone, taking it as the
highest compliment possible from the low-budget king.
Well, that's it for
now. Oh yeah, On May 17th there's gonna be a birthday party for Ramone at
Irving Plaza and he's going to pick the bands. Guess who's gonna play? Yup, the
Independents, Los Guisanos (former Ramones bassist CJ's band), Native American
punkers Blackfire, 22 Jacks and several other hand-picked bands. Hey, you can
say this much for Joey Ramone, he knows how to take care of his buds.