- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 16, 2004

Pioneer punk rocker Johnny Ramone, guitarist for the Ramones, died yesterday in Los Angeles after a long battle with prostate cancer. He was 55.

“Punk rock died today” said Gary Kurfirst, who managed the band beginning in 1979. “He was the last of the Mohicans, and he was very brave. He was the Ramones, and everyone will always remember him.”

Born John Cummings, he and other members of the band changed their surnames to “Ramone” when the four-man group was formed in Forest Hills, N.Y., in 1974. Clad in tattered jeans and leather jackets, the Ramones quickly became favorites in the underground music scene that was beginning to coalesce at a Bowery bar called CBGB’s.

“I thought we were going to become big, like very big,” Mr. Ramone told The Washington Times earlier this year. “But I never knew what big meant. I thought we would have hit songs and that this new music was going to be the big thing.”

The band never had a Top Ten single in the United States, but its stripped-down, aggressive tunes — featuring Johnny Ramone’s hammering guitar — with comical lyrics about teenage lobotomies and sedation made the Ramones a favorite of fans and critics. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.

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