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for September 17, 2004


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Sad to See You Go, Goodbye.
by Stiffy Biceptz

Stiffy Biceptz is very sad today. Johnny Ramone, the last of the three core members of the most influential American band in modern pop history, has died of prostate cancer at age 55.
 
I have spoken many times in this column about the Ramones, so there isnít much new that I can say to further emphasize how great, and how important they were and continue to be. Ultimately, their importance is hinted at in the fact that Johnnyís death was a headline news item on CNN, listed right after the war in Iraq, and the presidential race. The deaths of Joey and Dee Dee were also treated with the same importance. Hmmm...
 
Slowly but surely the impact of the Ramones on the pop/rock/alternative music world has been realized in the last 15 years. As the years went by, bands, hits and trends came and went. Over that time the Ramones' reputation grew and grew. Nowadays, no self respecting Alternative artist dare not mention the Ramones as the ultimate influence, the first and foremost, the spark that changed it all.
 
If Joey was the heart and face of the Ramones, then Johnny was the brains. He was the one who ran the business and protected the band's limited funds, but far more importantly he jealously guarded the band's reputation in all things creative. He was the one who wrote most of the songs and created that trademark Ramones sound. A Mosrite guitar, a few rapidly connected chords, and a wall of Marshalls. That sound, that simple beautiful sound, single handedly destroyed the culture of corporate rock that threatened to kill pop music in the early 70ís. It ultimately spawned most of what we love in alternative music, everything from punk to goth. As with Bono (who worships the Ramones) Johnny was to the end unstained by any compromise, musically, artistically or personally. His integrity survived 30 years of pressure to sell out, to collaborate, to give in to the money. Perhaps the ultimate statement of his independence was the fact he was a staunch Republican, in a profession and from a culture of almost total allegiance to Democrats and liberals.
 
I recommend any of you not familiar enough with the Ramones to read any of the great biographies about the band and its members. Theirs was a remarkable story of rags to better rags to immortality.
 
Iíve missed the Ramones since they retired in 1996. No live show before or since was as great, and I doubt there ever will be.
 
My final comments. The lessons from the Ramones are: Be independent, make your own choices, never compromise who you are. Do it yourself, do it right. Those are the reasons the Ramones will always be my favorite band, and Johnny my favorite Ramone.
 
Goodbye, Johnny.
 

©2004 Stiffy Biceptz

All material ©2001-2014 Sean Carolan, except as noted.

 







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