Archive for the ‘Johnny Ramone’ Category

Jan & Dean

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Dead Man's Curve / Jan & Dean

Listen: Dead Man’s Curve / Jan & Dean JanDeanDead.mp3

Right after my little kid fascination with The McGuire Sisters, I moved on to The Ronettes and The Shangri-Las. This process seemed an eternity, but was actually only a year or two span. No sooner had the girl groups caught my ear, than surf took hold. Even though we lived in upstate New York, our favorite sport was surfing. At least that’s what we all agreed. I’m not a deeply knowledgeable collector of surf, but I do love a lot of the big hits. Summertime poured out of our transistor radios when any of the many surf singles were played, regardless of the season. Most friends were drawn to The Beach Boys, and indeed ‘Surfin USA’ and ‘Don’t Worry Baby’ still tingle like a first listen every play. But Jan & Dean for me were most consistent. These two singles, over time, have risen to the top. No secret that Brian Wilson co-wrote many of their hits, and that Jan was very involved in Beach Boys recordings too. It must have been an incredible time in LA.

‘Dead Man’s Curve’ is particularly eerie, given the near fatal crash two years after it’s release suffered by Jan Berry very close to the actual dead man’s curve, on Whittier Drive and Sunset Blvd. I have often driven past there, late at night, on my way back from John’s place just the other side of Bel Air, and would creep myself out by blasting this on the ipod. I know the route that the lyrics describe by heart. The fantasy of drag racing along Sunset, past Doheny and onward to the curve in a bright red Corvette is irresistible. Cheap thrills for a non resident basically.

Still all the history of LA and Hollywood never ceases to attract my morbid side. Years ago, Denise Zoom drove Joey and I to where the Tate murders happened. We were pretty buzzed, it was late and feeling adventurous. Halfway up the drive we both started shouting and screaming for her to stop – and back up. Never did make it all the way to the top. We were brave enough to drive past the garage where Sal Mineo was stabbed later that night though.

Ride The Wild Surf / Jan & Dean

Listen: Ride The Wild Surf / Jan & Dean JanDeanRideWild.mp3

Even ‘Ride The Wild Surf’ has a spine chiller element to it. Never could place what. The melody? The strings? The power of the ocean? They all make for an anthemic song not often given it’s dues anymore.

The Ramones

Friday, November 5th, 2010

Sheena Is A Punk Rocker - The Ramones

Listen: Sheena Is A Punk Rocker / The Ramones 06 Sheena Is A Punk Rocker.mp3

Never ever put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

I decided to get both John and Joe to hand write the ‘Sheena Is A Punk Rocker’ lyrics, then frame them, with a copy of the record in the center. John, not surprisingly, did an immaculate job. He was a very profound autograph collector, and specific about how his name should be signed. You’ll notice on any items with his inscription, little to no variation in his signature. Even the jukebox tab shined with his neatness.

He once convinced me to go with him to an autograph collectors show near his place in LA. I got Ellie May, Tabitha from Bewitched and the three girls from Petticoat Junction to sign 8 x 10′s. It was total fun, but he didn’t succeed in switching my interest from records to one of his obsessions: autographs. Good try though.

And so, I always meant to get Joe to do those lyrics too. You know how you think, I can do that tomorrow or next week. But it never came.

We all miss Joe so very much still. Isn’t this just one of the greatest singles ever made?

Sheena Is A Punk Rocker - The Ramones Jukebox Tab

Johnny Ramones Lyrics

Above Lyrics and Jukebox Tab: Johnny Ramone

The Stone Poneys / Linda Ronstadt

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Stone Ponies - Different Drum

Listen: Different Drum / The Stone Poneys StonePoneysDifferentDrum.mp3

Ok, so a follow up single isn’t always better than the hit preceding it, as was maybe the case with ‘Up To My Neck In High Muddy Water’. It’s hard to top ‘Different Drum’. In fact, Linda Ronstadt never did. At least I don’t remember her doing it, possibly due in part to my general lack of interest toward country leaning music back then.

‘Different Drum’ was indeed another story though. It became a radio staple not long after Jefferson Airplane’s somewhat similar sounding ‘White Rabbit’, and at the same time as both ‘Itchycoo Park’ by The Small Faces and ‘Zabadak’ from Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich.

‘Different Drum’ felt a bit psychedelic, even though it wasn’t. Maybe it was by association. Nick Venet was the producer and his work covered many genres. As a Capitol in house employee, seems he was handed all their youth culture signings of the day, thus slotting The Stone Poneys sessions between The Leaves, Lothar & The Hand People or Hearts & Flowers. It was one of many historic times at the Capitol Tower.

Stone Ponies - Up To My Neck picture sleeve

Listen: Up To My Neck In High Muddy Water / Linda Ronstadt & The Stone Poneys StonePoneysUpToMyNeck.mp3

Long before Simon Cowell, the ruthless corporate machine gnawed it’s way through bands, carving out the superstar for investment and mainstream marketing, leaving the other members to survive somehow. As when Clive Davis butchered Big Brother & The Holding Company for Janis Joplin, so too, it seems, did Capitol decimate The Stone Poneys for the asset now known as Linda Ronstadt.

‘Different Drum’ by The Stone Poneys was literally still on Billboard’s Top 100 when ‘Up To My Neck In High Muddy Water’ was released as Linda Ronstadt & The Stone Poneys. Housed in a full color sleeve, big things were expected. The record stalled at #93, but the setback was only temporary. She skyrocketed. It’s a great single despite the misery.

Linda Ronstadt was particularly critical of The Ramones, having gone to CBGB’s, catching an early performance and trashing them the very next day in a local New York paper. It was a hurtful moment that they talked about on occasion. So when Elektra threw a rather lavish party for her in New York, upon release of a successful new album, CANCIONES DE MI PADRE, the mischievous idea of inviting the band was impossible to resist and they were happy to attend.

We all met at Paul’s Lounge on 3rd and 10th, now a drug store, for a drink, then proceeded uptown to the event. Monte of course came along, Michael Alago and Arturo Vega did too. Everyone cleaned up on designer Mexican food, the album theme being traditional Mexican folk songs, and waited patiently for her to make the rounds, greeting her guests. The moment when she turned towards our table was classic, but it was too late to turn back. Obviously, she’d not been forewarned. Her look was priceless. DeeDee smiled and stared very menacingly, John just glared. Joey, after about five or ten seconds, decided to break the silence with “So Linda, long time no see”.

Nervously: “How are you guys doing?”

“We’re fine” replies John before she’s even finished her last word.

Incredible singer, successful artist but at that moment, Linda Ronstadt was stumped. Wincing, she backed away and slithered into the crowd.


The Ramones

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

RamonesBonzo, The Ramones, Joey Ramone, Johmmy Ramone

Listen: Bonzo Goes To Bitburg / The Ramones RamonesBonzo.mp3

No one said it better than Seymour Stein: “A band like The Ramones don’t come along once in a lifetime, they come along once”.

Somewhere on the west side, either 14th or 23rd Street, they were recording a few songs. Damn if I can remember where.

As I recall it, there was a single to do between albums for the UK and the band had a song they figured would work. Well not John, but the others that is.

Around 10 pm, the phone rang. It was Joe. Did I wanna go to The Ritz for a drink and oh, could you pick me up? Couldn’t have come at a more boring moment, I was alone for the weekend. Got in the Honda, and headed over.

I remember this as clearly as looking in the mirror. He jumped into the front seat. There was definitely something about the expression on his face, eyes almost bugging and kind of panting, breathing anxiously. “You gotta hear this song, can I play it, it’s a rough mix but you gotta hear it”. Ah – yeah!

In went the cassette. I guess I was luckily the first person to hear it outside of the studio walls. Joe kept watching for my reaction, beaming at the same time. How could he not. The Ramones had just finished recording one of the greatest singles of all time.

I pulled over on 2nd Ave. I had too. This sounded so fantastic it was almost unbelievable. We listened a few more times really loud. It was warm, windows open, perfect until more than a few kids, awestruck at seeing Joey Ramone sitting in this car, started to clammer. God bless him, Joe had time for everyone, autographs, pictures, you name it. It often took us half an hour to go a couple blocks from his place to eat – every walk of life stopped him on the street, fans, foreigners, even cops, always. So after a bunch of hellos, it was time to drive along.

You see, one of The Ramones biggest fans was Joe himself. So he had no problem with my insistence we drive a bit and keep listening. We went round and round town, up the east side, through the park, down the West End Highway, playing this for at least an hour, probably two. No exaggeration.

Does life get any better than a memory like that?


JoeyJukebox, Joey Ramone, The Ramones, Jukebox Tab

Above: Jukebox Tab signed by Joey Ramone

Below: One of the few clips that actually captures their sheer power.

The Heartbreakers

Monday, February 8th, 2010

HeartbreakersBornPS, The Heartbreakers, Walter Lure, The Ramones, Johnny Thunders, Track,

Listen: Born To Lose / The Heartbreakers HeartbreakersBorn.mp3

The Heartbreakers were in London, playing The Marquee around the last week or so of March ’77. It was luckily during a fortnight visit, seeing a band every night type trip, right at the height of punk. The Roxy was in it’s brief existence and having missed them there in order to see The Damned and Johnny Moped at the LSE, I was anxious to get in early. It’s funny when you go 3,000 miles to see a band that’s from your own backyard. They were both everything New York yet perfectly invented for England too. Recalling the show that night still gives me the shakes.

HeartbreakerOneTrackPS, The Heartbreakers, Walter Lure, The Ramones, Johnny Thunders, Track,

Listen: One Track Mind / The Heartbreakers HeartbreakersOneTrack.mp3

To prove the point about England, they signed to a reactivated (I think just for them) Track Records. Seemingly dormant since the very early 70′s, suddenly Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp were dug up and cleaned off – good as new.

In ’67, when the label began, those two must have been a real threat with both The Jimi Hendrix Experience and The Who on a roster that overnight put Track in the uh-oh we’re all in trouble now league. Thunderclap Newman and The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown didn’t help, while Marsha Hunt, John’s Children, The Eire Apparent and Cherry Smash made stubbornly difficult to find, must-have flops.

‘One Track Mind’, The Heartbreakers second single, had me thinking they could take over the world. My crystal ball obviously needed new batteries. But the guitar tones of Johnny Thunders and especially Walter Lure were a wall of sloppy sound live and for a brief moment I couldn’t get enough.

Walter played for years on The Ramones albums. His signature sound is a giveaway on TOO TOUGH TO DIE, and a perfect foil to Johnny’s.

Public Image Ltd.

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

pil-pil, Public Image, Public Image Ltd., PIL, Johnny Rotten, John Lydon, Virgin

pil-pil-ps,Public Image, Public Image Ltd., PIL, Johnny Rotten, John Lydon, Virgin

Listen: Public Image / Public Image Ltd. PublicImage.mp3

It could have been awful, and left a nasty void, had John Lydon not delivered as powerful and contemporary a debut single for his new band as this. Do you remember the video that accompanied it? Equally great.

Johnny Ramone always planned to quit before the band got “fat, bald or lazy”. Despite everyone coaxing he and Joey back to the stage after their ’96 retirement, they did leave a timeless image of themselves, just as John planned, by never doing so. Whether by design or not, The Sex Pistols are in the same boat.

Lydon often hung out with Michael and Howard at Elektra around the time ALBUM was released in ’86. What a fucking hysterical guy. No question, he was a great night out.