Drummer/producer Tommy Ramone, the last surviving original member of the Ramones, died July 11 from bile duct cancer. He was 62. Ramone was born Erdelyi Tamas in Budapest, Hungary, in 1952 but spent his formative years in Queens, N.Y., where he eventually formed the Ramones with guitarist John Cummings (aka Johnny Ramone), Jeffrey Hyman (lead singer Joey Ramone) and Douglas Colvin (bassist Dee Dee Ramone). Tommy Ramone played on the first three Ramones albums — Ramones (1976), Leaving Home (1977) and Rocket To Russia (1977), the latter two of which were co-produced by Ramone with Tony Bongiovi and Ed Stasium — before leaving the group to concentrate on studio work. The band would help spark the punk rock movement in the mid-’70s, ushering in stripped-down rock basics and a do-it-yourself ethic. They became highly influential for other bands scrapping for a place in an increasingly corporate music world. The Ramones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. Their self-titled debut was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame in 2007. The band received a Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011, which Tommy Ramone was on hand to receive, but it came after the deaths of Joey Ramone from lymphoma in 2001, Dee Dee Ramone from a 2002 drug overdose and Johnny Ramone from prostate cancer in 2004. "As the last surviving member of the original Ramones lineup, his sad passing is truly the end of an era, or as the group would say, 'the end of the century,' said Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow. "However, his and the group's viable and enduring legacy serves as a potent reminder of why their work still is, and will remain, so influential."
Welcome to The Set List. Here you'll find the latest concert recaps for many of your favorite, or maybe not so favorite, artists. Our bloggers will do their best to provide you with every detail of the show, from which songs were on the set list to what the artist was wearing to which out-of-control fan made a scene. Hey, it'll be like you were there. And if you like what you read, we'll even let you know where you can catch the artist on tour. Feel free to drop us a comment and let us know your concert experience. Oh, and rock on.
By Jamie Wayt
The 10th anniversary Johnny Ramone Tribute, held Aug. 24 in the morbidly fantastic Hollywood Forever Cemetery, marked my second time attending this event. This year's installment was hosted by GRAMMY nominee Rob Zombie and featured an all-star tribute concert in honor of the Ramones and a screening of Zombie's 2005 horror film The Devil's Rejects.
The cemetery looked like a scene from Night Of The Living Dead as Ramones and Zombie fans descended upon the graveyard as the sun set. There was plenty to do before the real activities began, from posing with intricately decorated memorial sites for Johnny and Dee Dee Ramone and taking a walk through a mausoleum decorated with Metallica guitarist Kirk "Von" Hammett's monster movie memorabilia collection, to dining and drinking at cleverly named food trucks such as Trailer Park Truck, buying merchandise designed by Zombie with iconic Ramones emblems and picnicking on the grass among the tombstones.
While a question-and-answer session about the event took place on the lawn, I queued up at the Masonic Lodge. I had been dying to see a show at this strange venue. Once inside I walked past an awesome Harold And Maude movie poster and was aghast at how intimate the venue was. For fans who didn't have a ticket , the concert was simulcast on the mausoleum movie screen outside for the masses. Following an introduction from writer/actress Traci Lords, the all-star cast entered the stage through the crowd to perform those iconic speedy punk songs.
Zombie and his band — John 5, Piggy D. and Ginger Fish — plowed through a five-song set of Ramones classics. Delivered with the vigor of a high school band, the usually inanimate Fish had a smile on his face that said he was happy to perform the songs from which he likely learned to drum. It was bizarre to see Zombie & Co. play songs that weren't theirs in a venue this small — I cut my teeth on White Zombie as a teenage metalhead — but I enjoyed every second of it.
Up next, Steve Jones (Sex Pistols) and Duff McKagan (Guns N' Roses, Velvet Revolver) emerged to form a trio with Fish. McKagan and Jones represented a different era of musicianship and imparted on the crowd their version of Ramones' songs with their own vim and vigor. Their set possessed the "anything-can-happen" ferocity that punk represents, and the musicians often communicated between and during performances, giving their songs a wilder, spontaneous vibe. When McKagan's daughter Grace joined to sing "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker," I caught him beaming proudly at her. To me, this represented the way Ramones' songs have been handed down from one generation to another. Young singer/songwriter Jesse Jo Stark then joined for "Rockaway Beach."
"Saturday Night Live" and "Portlandia" personality Fred Armisen brought his alter-ego Ian Rubbish to play with the trio. The actor held his own among the well-seasoned musicians as he led them through two mellower Ramones tracks.
Surprise guest Billy Idol hopped onstage to an adoring crowd to close the show with "I Wanna Be Sedated" and "California Sun." Even though Idol had to read some of the lyrics while he performed, it was a rocking end to a one-of-a-kind show.
After the concert, The Devil's Rejects lit up the cemetery on the cement mausoleum wall as the crowd settled in to spend the rest of the night celebrating the memory of the band who earlier this summer lost their last original member, Tommy Ramone.
"Rock 'N' Roll High School"
"Beat On The Brat"
"R.A.M.O.N.E.S" (Motörhead cover)
Steve Jones, Duff McKagan, Ginger Fish
"Judy Is A Punk"
"Silly Thing" (Sex Pistols cover)
"Sheena Is A Punk Rocker" (with Grace McKagan)
"Rockaway Beach" (with Jesse Jo Stark)
Fred Armisen, Duff McKagan, Steve Jones, Ginger Fish
"I Can't Make It On Time"
Billy Idol, Duff McKagan, Steve Jones, Ginger Fish
"I Wanna Be Sedated"
(Jamie Wayt lives in Los Angeles and is the rock community blogger for GRAMMY.com. She has attended and written about more than 700 shows since 2007. You can follow her musical adventures at www.hardrockchick.com.)
Punchlines flew with nearly as much speed as a Ramones song during Celebrating 40 Years Of The Ramones, this year's annual GRAMMY Museum Musical Milestones panel at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, on March 17. The panel and an evening showcase were held as a prelude to the exhibit Hey! Ho! Let's Go: The Ramones And The Birth Of Punk, opening April 10 at the Queens Museum in New York and Sept. 16 at the GRAMMY Museum at L.A. Live.
Rolling Stone senior writer David Fricke, Sire Records co-founder Seymour Stein, pioneering punk singer/songwriter John Doe (X, the Knitters, the Blasters) and Johnny Ramone's widow, Linda Ramone, needed little prompting from GRAMMY Museum Executive Director and panel moderator Bob Santelli as they regaled a room full of acolytes with recollections and insights about the band's history and continuing impact.
Fricke was writing for a local weekly in Philadelphia when a radio DJ gave him an album. The DJ knew his station would never air the self-titled 1976 debut by four Queens, N.Y., guys who took on the same last name and look: ripped jeans, biker jackets and black hair cut in longer-locked versions of a Prince Valiant pageboy.
"As soon as I put it on, it was like, head blown," Fricke recalled. "It was everything I wanted at incredible velocity." The writer, who wears his locks in a shoulder-length Ramones cut, added, "And the look. I ripped that look off immediately. I said, 'You guys invented it, but it's mine now.'"
Speaking of hair and punchlines, Linda Ramone drew a round of laughs by reciting the time Johnny Ramone came home from auditioning bass players and pronounced with disgust, "Oh God, one of them had curly hair."
Fricke said that witnessing the Ramones for the first time at a University of Pennsylvania coffee house informed his entire career, calling the show "one of the most astonishing things I've ever seen."
Whether the Ramones marked the birth of punk was in some dispute, because as the panelists observed, their songs really were pop — just done at lightning speed.
Though the band's chart impact was minimal — the 1977 single "Rockaway Beach," their biggest hit, reached No. 66 — 40 years on, new fans continue to discover songs the panelists cited as favorites, including "I Wanna Be Sedated," "Do You Remember Rock 'N' Roll Radio?" and "Blitzkrieg Bop."
"The songs were so sharp," Fricke said. "They were concise. And there was lot of thought in there."
Stein, who signed The Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award recipients to his then-new label, had to rent a studio for an hour so he could hear them play because he kept missing their shows while signing bands in England.
"They must have done 15 songs in 18 minutes or 18 songs in 15 minutes," he said, drawing laughs. "They could have stopped after five minutes. I wanted to sign them. It was like having your hand in a light socket. We used the other 45 minutes to discuss the deal. And they were in the studio a couple of days later and they were done."
Doe said the Ramones influenced X lead guitarist Billy Zoom's playing style, as well as the L.A. punk band's song lengths.
"The Ramones were a conceptual art piece that had nothing to do with fine art. It was pop art," said Doe. "It was the connection between Andy Warhol and the street and popular music. And we wanted to be part of that."
Noting that the 1976 music scene included both California rock and prog rock, Santelli observed, "It seems like the Ramones were the great correction."
Describing New York at the time as a disintegrating disaster mitigated by a cultural surge "at all levels," Fricke responded, "It wasn't that rock needed a correction. It was that there was a city where something could happen — needed to happen." The Ramones, he added, just took their influences, from the Bay City Rollers to girl groups, "and sucked all the unnecessary air out of it."
Stein disagreed, saying, "It wasn't so much that New York needed a correction; it needed an infusion. And the Ramones led the way because they were the most extreme."
Doe countered, "I think rock and roll absolutely needed a correction — absolutely needed to be knocked upside the head. It was the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt and Yes and all that. As a youngster, whether you're 15 or 25, you can't necessarily play all those notes and don't want to have to be a virtuoso. That has nothing to do with rock and roll."
Regardless of their preferences, all seemed to agree with Stein's pronouncement, "There's great music coming from everywhere. And the reason that rock and roll has survived is because of its ability to change."
(Austin, Texas-based writer/editor Lynne Margolis contributes regularly to print, broadcast and online media including American Songwriter and Lone Star Music magazines. Outlets also have included the Christian Science Monitor, Paste, Rollingstone.com, and NPR. A contributing editor to the encyclopedia, The Ties That Bind: Bruce Springsteen From A To E To Z, Margolis also writes bios for new and established artists.)
(The Ramones were honored with The Recording Academy's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011. The original version of the following tribute ran in the 53rd GRAMMY Awards program book that year. The last original founding member of the Ramones, Tommy Ramone died July 11 at the age of 62.)
Being head of Sire Records, which turns 45 in 2011, I was responsible for all artists, and as hard as it was not to show favoritism, for the most part I succeeded. It was hardest with the Ramones, partly because soon after I signed them their manager Danny Fields asked my wife Linda to be his partner. It was harder still because I admired the band's total dedication to their music, despite the fact that selling millions of records eluded them throughout their career.
With Linda as their co-manager, the Ramones knew my every move. One Sunday within 10 minutes of returning from a 10-day trip to London, I received a call from Johnny. "Seymour, we got some great songs, ya know, we want you to hear 'em, ya know."
I said, "Great, just got home. Come in anytime you want on Tuesday."
"No, we want you to hear 'em live, ya know, and we know you're not doing anything Wednesday night, ya know, so we booked ourselves into CBGBs."
That evening proved monumental. The opening act was supposed to be the Shirts. I had seen them many times before and was standing outside the club with Lenny Kaye.
The opening act goes on and I hear a screeching voice: "When my love, stands next to your love…" and all of a sudden as I'm sucked into CBGBs, I say, "That's not the Shirts." Lenny says, "No, they got another gig, that's the Talking Heads.
Armed with the Ramones and Talking Heads, amid the buzz building around the Bowery and CBGB, Sire finally got the distribution deal I always wanted with Warner Bros. Records, where we have been for the past 35 years.
Thank you Johnny. Oh yes, and thank you Joey, thank you Tommy, and thank you Dee Dee.
Over the years I can't tell you how many artists were lured to Sire by the Ramones, and yes, also Talking Heads.
The Ramones made it seem easy and as such were an inspiration to bands as varied as U2, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day, Pearl Jam, the Offspring, Motörhead, Metallica, the Undertones, the Strokes, Bad Religion, Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, Sonic Youth, Bad Brains, and many others.
I remember when we first brought the Ramones to London back in 1976. Members of the Clash and Sex Pistols, both only semiprofessional at the time, attended the second show and it was said both bands turned pro right after that.
According to Danny Fields, Johnny Ramone asked the Clash's bass player Paul Simonon, "Are you in a band?" Paul said, "Well, we just rehearse. We call ourselves the Clash, but we are not good enough." Johnny said, "Wait 'til you see us. We stink, we're lousy, we can't play. Just get out there and do it."
Joey Ramone had the biggest heart ever and was always trying to help new acts. Last time we spoke, two weeks before he died, Joey called to tell me he had just sent a new band's CD.
Bono once said at a Madison Square Garden gig, "We love New York City…New York City has given us a lot of things, but the best thing it ever gave us was a punk rock group called the Ramones, without whom a lot of people would have never gotten started; certainly us!"
Eddie Vedder might have set a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame record by speaking for more than 20 minutes when he inducted the Ramones back in 2002. "The Ramones didn't need Mohawks to be punk. They're visually aggressive. They were four working-class, construction-worker delinquents from Forest Hills, Queens, who were armed with two-minute songs that they rattled off like machine-gun fire. And it was enough to change the Earth's revolution."
I've been to Beijing twice this past year to check out China's emerging punk music scene. There is a club called D-22, reminiscent of CBGB, and aspiring young bands like Carsick Cars, P.K. 14 and Rustic are carrying on the tradition, further proof the Ramones' music is truly global and will endure forever.
(As founder of Sire Records, Seymour Stein signed the Ramones, Talking Heads, Pretenders, Madonna — all of whom have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — Depeche Mode, Echo And The Bunnymen, Ice-T, the Replacements, the Smiths, k.d. lang, Erasure, the Cult, the Cure, Seal, the Undertones, and Barenaked Ladies, among many others, to the label. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005.)
(For a complete list of 53rd GRAMMY Awards nominees, please click here.)
The Recording Academy today announced its 2011 Special Merit Award recipients. This year's Lifetime Achievement Award honorees are Julie Andrews, Roy Haynes, Juilliard String Quartet, the Kingston Trio, Dolly Parton, Ramones, and George Beverly Shea; this year's Trustees Award honorees are Al Bell, Wilma Cozart Fine and Bruce Lundvall; and Roger Linn and Waves Audio are this year's Technical GRAMMY Award honorees.
The special invitation-only ceremony will be held during GRAMMY Week on Feb. 12, 2011, and a formal acknowledgment will be made during the 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards telecast, which will be held at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011, and broadcast live at 8 p.m. ET/PT on the CBS Television Network.
"It is a great honor to recognize and celebrate such a distinguished and dynamic group of honorees who have been the creators of such timeless art," said Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow. "These influential performers and brilliant innovators have been of great inspiration to our culture and industry. Their legendary work has left a lasting impression and will continue to influence generations to come."
The Lifetime Achievement Award honors lifelong artistic contributions to the recording medium, while the Trustees Award recognizes outstanding contributions to the industry in a non-performing capacity. Both awards are determined by vote of The Recording Academy's National Board of Trustees. Technical GRAMMY Award recipients are determined by vote of The Academy's Producers & Engineers Wing Advisory Council and Chapter Committees as well as The Academy's Trustees. The award is presented to individuals and companies who have made contributions of outstanding technical significance to the recording field.
For more information on this year's honorees, click here.
Tune in to the 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards live from Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS. For updates and breaking news, please visit The Recording Academy's social networks on Twitter and Facebook, and on YouTube.