Just about everybody in the punk scene knows who Joey Ramone was. A lot of you probably even know he was the lead singer for the iconic punk rock band The Ramones, who released 14 albums and played 2,263 concerts during their 22-year existence. Joey lost his life to lymphoma at the age of 49 but his legend lives on and we’d like to celebrate it by sharing with you 10 things you probably didn’t know about this punk rock icon.
Expand your knowledge below.
1. Joey’s real name was Jeffrey Ross Hyman.
2. The name Ramone comes from the name Paul McCartney used to check into hotels incognito.
3. Despite working together for a long time, Joey did not often get along with Johnny Ramone. They disagreed on many things, from the artistic direction of the band (Johnny wanted to keep performing straight-forward punk material, while Joey wanted to experiment) to politics (Johnny was a die-hard conservative, Joey an outspoken liberal). The main wedge that split the Ramones was when Johnny began dating Joey’s girlfriend, Linda, and they eventually married. After the band split in 1996, the two reportedly never spoke again.
4. Before the Ramones, Joey got his start singing in Sniper, a New York City glam band, in which he was a member from 1972 to 1974. The band frequented NYC’s Mercer Arts Center and Max’s Kansas City, but didn’t record anything with Ramone (then Jeff Starship). Their only output was a demo recorded in 1975.
5. Joey had severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder from an early age. His mother took him to doctor after doctor, most of which told them he would be unable to function in a normal society, some even declaring Joey would eventually be a vegetable. Mickey Leigh, Ramone’s brother, recalls, “it was very difficult to grow up sharing a room with someone turning lights on and off, running the water in the bathroom for hours and hours, unable to throw things away.” This condition, coupled with his towering height, made him a frequent target of bullies in school.
6. It is rumored that Joey died in his hospital bed after listening to U2’s “In a Little While,” which Bono mentions on the band’s live DVD Elevation 2001: Live from Boston, adding that “Joey turned this song about a hangover into a gospel song, because that’s the way I always hear it now.”
7. Joey cited The Stooges, David Bowie, The Beatles, The Who, and Phil Spector-produced girl-groups as among his biggest influences. One of those girl groups, The Ronettes, was a particularly big influence, and Joey worked with singer Ronnie Spector in the mid-90s, producing her critically-acclaimed 1999 album She Talks to Rainbows.
8. He was reportedly a huge fan of Green Day and The Offspring, both of whom cite The Ramones as a major influence.
9. Joey wrote the song “Censorshit” (from The Ramones’ 1992 album Mondo Bizarro) in response to Tipper Gore’s Parents Music Resource Center, who fought for parental advisory labels on “vulgar” music, a term that was never very clearly defined.
10. A block of East 2nd Street in New York City was renamed Joey Ramone Place in honor of the punk rock legend. The area was home to CBGB, the seminal punk club, as well as being home to Joey and Dee Dee Ramone.
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