How Joey Ramone Spent Christmas

Busy guy. Photo by Jay Blakesberg.

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.