Friday, November 28, 2008

I Was a Teenage Ramone: A True-ish Story

Part Three '"I Don't Wanna Go Down to the Base"

"'Gabba Gabba Hey' is from the 1930s horror film, Freaks. There's a party going on in the film and one of the midgets has married this pretty woman - she's not a freak. During the celebration, they start chanting, 'Gooble gobble, we accept her, one of us!' So when we wrote the song 'Pinhead' we decided to use the chant, but we changed it to give it more power. We were trying to tell the audience that we're all one."
Tommy Ramone

So, after gathering guitars, a few leather jackets and a lone mike, D.K., Dano-O and I began our air-band practice in the sorta sound-proofed confines of my parent's basement.

We chucked the tatty black wigs and instead (this circa Too Tough To Die when Dee Dee had chopped off his puddin' bowl haircut) bought a jumbo bottle of Raven hair dye and went to work. By the time we'd finished the wall around the sink was spattered black and the air had that ammonia and peroxide stench. Even after the plastic wraps came off, our hair black and glistening, we didn't look much like the bruddhas. Though in Dan-O's case his mid-80's Bono-mullet did get rattier à la Marky's do.

Our single rehearsal consisted of cuing up my otherwise-blank cassette of "Pinhead" repeatedly while running through a hastily synchronized jump off the drum riser (with the hacked-up basement hideaway bed standing in) and then jumping up and down like PCP-fueled madmen for the entire middle section. For the Big Finish we needed a sign. The "Gabba Gabba Hey" sign was not only a crucial thematic piece of the Ramones iconography but also wielding it made the awkwardly geeky Joey look cool on the LP jacket. So we grabbed a black sharpie,a clean sheet of cardboard, a piece of lath and a staple gun. Presto - by 2:14 a.m. we had everything we needed plus a blister pack of caffeine pills.

We slept in. I awoke when my mother shrieked like a stuck banshee upon seeing this strange black mop in her blond-haired son's bed.

We headed for school full-speed. Once there, we tore down Echo Hall, our cheap canvas runners flapping and our leather zips jangling like windchimes in a hurricane. We arrived late for Math class (a no-no) carrying all our real air-gear.

After Math, we booted it to the gym and set up in a flash. We followed almost a dozen acts - think of a pantomime 80's- OMD, ZZ Top, the Go-Go's plus some oldies by Bob Marley, The Monks etc.

We hit the stage and I went epileptic. I mimed the song in a sprint, not a marathon . The only things I remember, other than the mike in front of my face, was Tharp in her cracked aviator shades air-drumming with all the fire of a sleep-walking Charlie Watts and her. She stood by stage left wearing a new black and white Ramones T-shirt and whistle-cheering us.

It ended with me jabbing toward the heavens with that "Gabba Gabba Hey" sign as Joey incanted the slogan a dozen-odd times. Even though, with a certain light-fingered deftness, I'd paused the cassette recording before the recorded cheering, the real crowd whooped, hollered n' bellowed as loud as the punters in the Rainbow Theater had years earlier. For five seconds I absorbed this novel reaction. Then, soaked and parched, I ducked backstage.

It ended up a drubbing. "Nice cho-re-ograhy" the classic rock D.J. M.C.'ing the affair sneered at us not long before pronouncing the Bob Marley act the winner. It was winner take all - no second place.

In the end, she left with one of the air-guitarist in my own "band" while snacking on his borrowed guitar strap.

Before leaving she pulled me aside and said only, "That rocked, Jeffy Ramone."

So, I tried to be Joey Ramone and came in a distant second - there's only so much shame in that.

What with the end of Ramones Appreciation Month It's time to hear some final tribute songs

For the brilliant "Bowery Electric" Jed Davis of New York's Collider is backed by CJ Ramone, Marky Ramone, Tommy Ramone and Daniel Rey. This song is a fitting tribute and if you like the song the Bowery Electric Crew E.P. is still available here.

And storied scuzz-rocker Jeff Dahl (former Angry Samoan amongst many other things) lets rip with his "All My Favorite Ramones Are Dead".

Do not miss the deeply-reverential band the Christian Ramones - "Gabba Gabba Pray!"

To get all of the Boris Sprinkler Kill the Ramones 7" (B-side - "Kill the Sex Pistols") go here.

Following the Life's A Gas tribute to Joey here is Main Man: a Tribute to Dee Dee also on the dormant Amp Records. Lotsa Ramones-styled goodness here, including a number of songs pruned from MRML's Ramonesongs comp to avoid duplication. For a sample check out the infernally catchy "Johnny and Dee Dee" by the Transistors.
This CD originally came with a book titled Rock in Peace Joey and Johnny Ramone and while the CD is out-of-print the book itself is still available here.

Download Main Man

And we end near where we began with the second volume of Ramones Unreleased Tracks.

Download More Unreleased Tracks

Next: Nothing About the Ramones


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. The ending is so devastating! How could it end like that? In a single sentence? How could she leave with your air guitarist? After pandering to all her Ramonesque fantasies? It's not even a real guitarist! I'm sorry for your heartbreak and mindlessly picking at your emotional scab :(

  3. Hey! Great blog man. I had 'Break In My Head' stuck in my head all day and found you by looking for a copy of The Lifesavors "Dream Life" on vinyl. Thanks for the mp3, it's not the vinyl but it'll do until I find it. I really enjoyed all of your writings on The Ramones, The Clash and a bunch of early punk/hardcore bands that I was into back in the day. I even downloaded "Zionic Bonds" which I haven't heard in probably 25 years. Good stuff.

  4. El

    Pick away it's a sad little tale,told for laughs and it's essentially true (but you can never trust a writer on the subject of a broken heart.)

    Thanks for reading.

  5. Eric

    Glad you've enjoyed all the various offering here at MRML (old punk bootlegs, rambling reminiscences and,of course, Christian Rock records from the late 70's.

  6. Eric

    P.S. that album title from your site
    "All of the True Things I'm About to Tell You Are Lies" might have made a good sub-title for this story.

  7. My band is on that album, we sent the guy a demo and he loved it so we did a new version with real drums etc and somehow the rough demo is the one that made it onto cd. Still, its nice to have something out there.


    Murray Ramone/Teenage Bobby Awe

  8. Murray

    How odd, perhaps he heard something on the demo that wasn't there in the new version or he just muddled it up.

    Is there any way to hear that new version? I'd check it out if I could.

    Thanks for leaving some words.

  9. the almost complete Shock And Awe discography is available here for free download, the song in question is on "School for Scoundrels"*S6s%24

  10. for more band info

  11. Murray

    (sorry for the delay)

    Like the Shock and Awe stuff (especially that Xmas single and of course the Ramones track is real cool as well.



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