MANHATTAN, NY—Joey Ramone was the iconic lead singer for the leading American punk band, the Ramones, from its origin in 1974 to the band’s demise in 1996. When the band split, he launched a solo career, but then succumbed to lymphatic cancer one month before his 50th birthday in 2001.
Before his death, Ramone had planned a birthday concert featuring musician friends and colleagues. He committed his brother, Mickey Leigh, to make it happen even if the celebrant did not survive that long. Leigh continues to curate a Joey Ramone Birthday Bash annually on his brother’s birthday, May 19. This year the all-star concert was held at The Studio At Webster Hall once again.
This year’s Birthday Bash highlighted Leave Home and Rocket To Russia, two Ramones albums that turned 40 this year. The bill featured the Love Triangle, comprised of Leigh on vocals and guitar, and former Ramones bassist CJ Ramone and drummer Richie Ramone. Leigh also closed the evening with three songs from Joey Ramone’s two solo albums. The centerpiece of the evening, however, featured a house band comprised of various vocalists plus Ramones’ engineer/producer Ed Stasium and Walt Stack (the Bullys) on guitar, Andy Shernoff (the Dictators) on bass, and Clem Burke (Blondie) and Richie Ramone on drums. (Trivia: Burke was Elvis Ramone for two gigs in 1987.) The main segment of the concert saw many of the singers from the original local punk scene return to the punk stage. Evil Presly (the Independents), Russell Wolinsky, Tish and Snooky Bellomo (Sic F*cks), Miriam Linna (the Cramps, Nervus Rex), Tim Heap (Heap), Ingrid Larsen (Ingrid & the Defectors), Lindsey Anderson (Kitty & the Kowalskis), Rew Starr, Phil Marcade (the Senders), James Boland (television’s Vinyl), Mick Stitch (L.E.S. Stitches), Dave Ellis, Jahn Xavier (the Nitecaps), George Tabb (Furious George), Pat DiNizio (the Smithereens), and Mickey Leigh each sang one or two songs from the featured albums.
David Peel, who regularly performed at these bashes and died on April 6, was honored by his sidemen and members of the Accelerators. The Cuts and L.E.S. Stitches also performed their own sets. Punk Magazine‘s John Holmstrom, Pete Aschner, Debra “Raffles” Trizzini, and former Ramones road manager Monte A. Melnick were among the hosts.
All proceeds from the concert contributed to lymphoma research in memory of Joey Ramone. Further donations may be contributed to the Joey Ramone Foundation for Lymphoma Research at P.O. Box 1107, Cooper Station, New York, NY 10276.
The Love Triangle with Mickey Leigh on vocals and guitar, CJ Ramone on bass and Richie Ramone on drums
- Do You Wanna Dance (Bobby Freeman cover)
- Locket Love
- I Can’t Give You Anything
- Suzy Is a Headbanger
- We’re a Happy Family
Leave Home/Rocket To Russia with Ed Stasium and Walt Stack on guitars, Andy Shernoff on bass, and Clem Burke (first five songs) and Richie Ramone (remainder of the set) on drums.
- Glad to See You Go (Evil Presly, vocals)
- Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment (Russell Wolinsky, Tish & Snooky Bellomo, vocals)
- I Remember You – (Miriam Linna, vocals)
- Oh Oh I Love Her So – (Tim Heap, vocals)
- Carbona Not Glue (Ingrid Larsen, vocals)
- You’re Gonna Kill That Girl (Lindsey Anderson, Rew Starr, vocals)
- Commando (Philippe Marcade, Lindsey Anderson, Rew Starr, vocals)
- I Don’t Care (James Boland, vocals)
- Here Today, Gone Tomorrow (James Boland, vocals)
- Babysitter (Mick Stitch, vocals)
- Ramona (Dave Ellis, vocals)
- Swallow My Pride (Jahn Xavier, vocals)
- I Wanna Be Well (George Tabb, vocals)
- Sheena Is a Punk Rocker (Pat Dinizio, vocals)
- Rockaway Beach (Mickey Leigh, vocals)
- California Sun (James Boland & Miriam Linna, vocals)
- Surfin’ Bird (The Trashmen cover) (Russell Wolinsky, Tish & Snooky Bellomo , vocals)
- Cretin Hop (Mick Stitch, vocals)
- Teenage Lobotomy (Evil Presly, vocals)
- Pinhead (George Tabb, vocals)
Tribute to Joey Ramone with Walt Stack and Matt Chiaravalle on guitars, David Merrill (the Rattlers) on bass, Pat Carpenter on drums, and Arno Hecht (the Uptown Horns) on saxophone
- Sweet Joey (Andy Shernoff cover) (Andy Shernoff, vocals)
- New York City (Joey Ramone cover) (Mickey Leigh, vocals)
- Waiting for that Railroad (Joey Ramone cover) (Mickey Leigh, vocals)
- What a Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong cover) (Mickey Leigh, vocals)