Rest in Punk: Tommy Ramone 1952-2014
by Mat Weir
On Friday, July 11th, in this foul year of our Corporations, 2014, we lost the last of the original members from the godfathers of punk, Tommy Ramone. Though he only played on the first three albums—to be replaced by Marky, who would play on (most) of the remaining albums, Tommy’s influence on music, art and culture are legendary. Afterall, it was Tommy who layed down the essential snare-floor tom-hi-hat combo that created the structure for the Ramones to build their punk rock sound. Though Dee Dee wrote many of the Ramones most popular songs, it was Tommy who wrote “Blitzkrieg Bop” with its hypnotic “Hey Ho, Let’s Go!” chant that has become ubiquitous in society.
And as we know, the Ramones sound exploded beyond New York’s Bowery and even beyond the band itself. Without their first three albums, music would have continued down its sluggish path of boring, safe, stadium bands. When the Sex Pistols recorded Never Mind the Bollocks, it was the first Ramones album they brought to the studio as a reference for how they wanted to sound. Without the first three Ramones albums, the Dead Kennedys would never have existed as Jello Biafra has claimed time and time again.
I can’t help thinking that Tommy’s passing carries an extra twist of pain. We live in a world of Justin Biebers and Katy Perrys, of Kanye West’s, Beyonce’s, Lil’ Wayne’s and criminals who take a nice photo and win a modeling contract. Ringo Starr is still alive, for god’s sake. But it’s a world without the Ramones, and things are that much worse for it.
Even as I write this, two days later, I can’t shake the feeling like someone kicked my childhood in the nuts, finishing it off by exposing Santa as a lie.
The Ramones’ music is timeless. Short, fast and catchy hooks, all that you need in a good pop song, which is what the band set out to write. Thankfully for us, they weren’t recognized for their talent until much later, allowing the band to live out their true purpose—a purpose first recognized by Tommy—a purpose that changed everything.
So thank you Tommy. Thank you Johnny. Thank you Dee Dee. Thank you Joey. Your time with us was too short but nobody will ever forget the name, Ramones. It’s a name too tough to die. HEY HO, LET’S GO!!!!!!