I have to admit, I didn't really get into the Ramones until college (hearing "Rock & Roll High School" at the occasional HS dance notwithstanding), but I got a little chill when I heard that Johnny Ramone had cancer.
It is kind of strange - Joey contracts lymphoma, Dee Dee dies of a heroin overdose a year later, and the third crucial "brudder" is going down (but not without a fight). It's also funny, because I just watched Rock and Roll High School again for...well, I bought the DVD used for ten dollars. It is not only a great pastiche of 50's "rock is the enemy" movies, but is probably one of the best rock films of all time...at the very least, the best film Timothy Van Patten has ever starred in. There's some datedness to the film, but it is proof that Roger Corman -who wanted to initially do "Disco High" - could be talked into a better, even lower-budget, idea.
It's easy to ignore the sheer brattiness and genius of the Ramones - after all, juvenile song subjects over a grinding 4/4 beat sounds, well, dumb. However, not only in context, but even now, with cookie cutter punk bands prevalent, it sounds like a well needed breath of fresh air. They never did disco mixes, or rap tracks, or even high concept albums (unless you count Acid Eaters, their covers album). They were always about hey, ho, let's go, and no song lasted more than two minutes, making their CDs a bargain.
Also, many conservatives (maybe even my good friend Mark K don't realize that Johnny was a very staunch conservative and an articulate spokesman. (Coming from a leftie pinko liberal like myself, that's quite...something) Yes, it's hard to believe that in a realm of leftist values, here was a rocker who could speak on conservative issues who didn't come across as, well, crazy. (And yes, I'm talking about Ted Nugent).
Hard to believe they're gone...I wanted them around for my kids to play, so that they could drive their old man.
In tribute, the only words I have to say are...gabba gabba hey!