- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 18, 2001

They were a blur of pioneering musical mania and eardrum-crushing mayhem, those great Ramones. Front and center, Joey Ramone, the gangly, graceful vocalist, delivered his lines: "I dont wanna be a pinhead no more/I just met a nurse that I could go for."
The uniform rarely change: rip-kneed bluejeans, T-shirts, sneaks and biker jackets, all worn with little affectation. Joey added shades — prescription sunglasses — in a practical move.
Joey Ramone was a ubiquitous New Yorker who never stopped supporting the "scene" that he and his band, the Ramones, spawned in the mid-1970s. He also perpetually supported younger bands that aspired to the greatness of their elders, even in his waning years, which ended Sunday, when he died of lymphatic cancer.
If you saw the Ramones in their heyday which, like most heydays, were early — your life was changed forever.
I saw them the first of five times in 1978, at a small college nightclub in the Midwest. It was in the spring during one of the bands never-ending tours of America.
The sound check was louder than any metal show could hope it to be. That volume came solely from the wall-of-sound guitar of Johnny Ramone.
When showtime came, the Ramones — Joey, Johnny, bassist Dee Dee Ramone and drummer Tommy Ramone — stomped out unpretentiously into the pure white stage lights and erupted.
The music was a beautiful blur, songs composed of cacophony, so wonderfully loud that you had no idea if you were hearing "Beat on the Brat" or "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker."
Joey sweated and flopped the black dishrag that was his hair. He swayed as the 120-second blur of the songs washed over him. In 25 minutes, the performance was done. The converted went back to whatever engaged them in life, and things never were the same again.
The Ramones were all about the revolution, and this one was won in tiny clubs, not the streets. It impacted our perspective on life, though, just as any righteous revolt should.
The Ramones watershed music was fun and it was intense, a marriage that has influenced two generations and is destined to become history.
Joey led this movement, always front and center, always photogenic, always affable onstage and off.
Spin magazine, the uninformed gazette of the MTV generation, currently offers its simplistic take on "punk music." In its wisdom, though, one of the two covers on the stands is of the iconic Joey Ramone. At least Spin got that right.
The Ramones played their last show Aug. 6, 1996, in Los Angeles, performance No. 2,263. Joey was just beginning to get sick.
The band was joined onstage by its juniors: Eddie Vedder for one song, Ben Shepherd from Soundgarden for another.
The musical journey was a great trip for Joey and his Ramones. It was a ride that paved the way for a lot of us who never got off on what buzzed most other people.

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