Got To Go 4: R.I.P. Ramones
The Last Ramone is dead.I know I promised that this time I'd look into the twilight word of faded stars, fake lineups and one shit oneders. It deserves some real delving. But I can't just yet because The Last Ramone is dead.Tommy Ramone was a founding member of the band, by accident. He was originally meant to be their manager but became the drummer from 1974 to 1978 as apparently no-one else could keep up. Tommy also co-produced the triple threat of genius the band debuted with: The Ramones, Leave Home and Rocket to Russia. Followed by the get it feel it if you don't have it live album, It's Alive. You can see the Sex Pistols were piss filled water gun prankters in comparison. Debbie Harry once rememberd when CBGBs was more than a Vegas dining concept all the bands were ripped and did not take shit serious. Except the Ramones, which too many did not take seriously. Rehearsing more than Samurai and ripping through songs with fast perfection. Sex sex SEX. I was hit hard by the news insane cells had stolen his life, I didn't know the half of his backstory:"Tommy Ramone was replaced on drums in 1978 by Marky Ramone, but handled band management and co-production for their fourth album, Road to Ruin; he later returned as producer for the eighth album, 1984's Too Tough to Die.Tommy Ramone wrote "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" and the majority of "Blitzkrieg Bop" while bassist Dee Dee suggested the title. He and Ed Stasium played all the guitar solos on the albums he produced, as Johnny Ramone largely preferred playing rhythm guitar. In the 1980s he produced the Replacements album Tim, as well as Redd Kross's Neurotica."I came to the Ramones late and by accident.From time to time the tonal toilet of late 80s MTV would play an 'old' video from some band as a nostalgic novelty. The Cars faced this treatment most often, but one promo I could not wait for was I Wanna Be Sedated. It made no sense to my larval mind. Why were there two speeds in the room? What was with all that long black hair and shades? What made total sense was the tickly groove and Blank Generation attitude of the lyrics. I didn't really have much of sense of the many lifestyle advantages of sedation. A little hypnotic valium glow can make the horrors of life go by with less immediate idiocy.I also didn't know that the track was already a decade old and that the Ramones had not recorded anything of merit since they busted out of Phil Spector's basement dungeon in 1980. From then on out it was downhill, with a shuffling pack of jokers coming in and out of the lineup. 'Too Tough To Die' has a couple of flashes of the old brilliance, at least in the title track.The old gang got back together again in the 90s, and threw down a gauntlet to the market mid decade. '�Adios Amigos!' was pitched as a final attempt to get some commercial love, and if it failed, the band would call it quits. Joey was barely scraping by, and the whole thing stunk and sunk without trace like a bronzed coil of turd. Some kind of farewell concert thing featuring grunge guffsters and pop punk posers never crossed my ears. I didn't think about The Ramones again for a long, long time. Shame on me.For long after the rich kids and safety pin fashionistas of UK punk and even post punk are mostly gone from popular culture, I see kids young enough to be my grandchildren rocking shirts with that simple Arturo Vega logo. Fuck Sid Vicious. This lot were the real inheritors of the New York Dolls flame, with a sped up Beach Boys aesthetic. Real, stripped back ROCK and R and B reborn again in a new context.That last run through the hits and the shits was the 2,263rd show by the band. A crude average means that over 32 years this greatest lot of real punk pioneers played over 70 shows in a given 365 day period. That is a remarkable achievement and act of love and art to the world. You can forgive them anything for that.Failing health, commercial indifference and critical failure led The Ramones to have the courage to throw in the towel. Of course they popped up from time to time in Hall of Fame type and autograph instore cash ins. But they really stopped, when they ran out of road.And now, the Ramone that mattered more than I ever knew, has died. Shame on me.