Sitting here in Queens
Eating refried beans
We’re in all the magazines
Gulpin’ down thorazines
In April 2001 Joey Ramone died from Lymphoma, not even 50 years old. Five years earlier The Ramones had stopped playing together, but even though that formally ended one of the most influential (punk) rock families, Dee Dee Ramone couldn’t still quite process and accept Joey’s death. His drug habit quickly spiralled out of control and in June 2002 he overdosed on heroin. Leaving all drummers aside, who never really were part of the Ramones family, that only left Johnny, who vowed that the death his brothers would not affect him. Hadn’t he always been the more sensible and disciplined one? Unfortunately his body and a mean killer called prostate cancer didn’t agree. In September 2004 Johnny Ramone also died.
Is all of this true? No, not at all, or at least not that I know. The dates are correct, the causes of death too, but Joey, Dee Dee and Johnny Ramone weren’t even family and I have no clue why Dee Dee actually overdosed. I also don’t know what the exact position of their four different drummers was. I only know that Tommy Ramone, the drummer of the original Ramones line-up. left the band after being threatened, spat on and ignored by the other band members.
Why am I telling it like this? Because I’m a romantic. I like to think of the Ramones as a real family, a family with its own dynamics, differences and dark secrets. A family with a bond so strong and magical that the individual members could only exist together. I’m not suggesting they reunited after death to jam forever in rock ‘n roll heaven. I’m not a believer in that sense. I’m just suggesting that when Joey died something else died with him. Call it the magic bond, call it whatever you want, I just like this story to be true because it is, to paraphrase a scene in the last episode of The Leftovers, the nicer story.