Today marks a decade since the death of an icon from the most infamous genre in music history — 10 years ago today, The Ramones lead singer and punk rock legend Joey Ramone passed away.
The punk scene exploded into life in the late 1970s and Joey Ramone was key to this underground music scene gaining global popularity and notoriety. The UK had Johnny Rotten, the sneering, snarling, spitting hurricane of anger and energy. But in the U.S., Joey Ramone controlled the stage and his audience with a more laid-back attitude, which although appearing less volatile, called out to a generation as loud as any of his contemporaries — of which there were very few. The band never achieved the commercial success that bands like the Sex Pistols and The Clash did, but The Ramones are often regarded as one of the most influential bands in both punk and rock, thanks in no small part to their iconic front man.
Born Jeffry Hyman on May 19, 1951, he formed the Ramones in the early 1970s in New York City; they were punk before people knew what punk was. Hits such as “Blitzkrieg Bop” (with its chorus chant of “˜Hey! Ho! Let’s go!’), “Rockaway Beach,” and “I Wanna Be Sedated” were fast, short, punk anthems that defined the genre while remaining unique to the Ramones.
Joey Ramone started out as the drummer for the band, moving to lead vocals before the release of debut album Ramones in 1976. He and Johnny Ramone were the only two to remain with the band until the official break up in 1996, 22 years after the Ramones formed.
Shortly before the band broke up, he was diagnosed with lymphoma. After six years battling the disease, Joey Ramone passed away on April 15, 2001, aged 49.
The Ramones are still one of my favourite bands to listen to. I can’t help but feel energised when I hear songs like “Sheena Is A Punk Rocker” or defiant when “It’s Not My Place (In The 9 To 5 World)” is played. Their songs have gone beyond punk tunes and become part of popular culture; I knew their music before I even knew I like the Ramones.