As he’s completed the transition from gangly snot-nosed punk to all-time stadium rock god, Billie Joe Armstrong hasn’t felt as strong of a need to flash his punk bona fides anymore. The question of whether Green Day is actually a punk band or not has been floating around since roughly 1994, so why not write a song about Amy Winehouse or play some acoustic stuff or even cover some classic 1980s teen pop?
But it’s true that Armstrong’s listening habits seem to inevitably return to punk. When talking about the songs that soundtracked his life with Entertainment Weekly, Armstrong gave shoutouts to everyone from Husker Du to The Replacements and Bikini Kill. However, he saved a special spot when asked who he considered his all-time favourite musician: Joey Ramone.
“Joey is the Jesus of punk,” Armstrong proclaimed. “He has this endearing quality where his voice matches the way he looked. He’s incredibly handsome, in a praying-mantis kind of way. He’s just gangly and long-legged and his voice [sounds like] that—it’s like a really insecure kid that’s become empowered through rock & roll music.”
If there was any part of Joey’s story that Armstrong was able to connect with, it was the misfit who could command a stage. Joey was naturally shy and prone to fits of alcohol abuse (not unlike Armstrong at one point in his life), but all of his problems dissipated once he stepped on stage. It didn’t matter if he was in good health or declining health – Joey always gave a captivating performance, something that obviously made an impression on Armstrong and his own stage presence.
Things came full circle for Armstrong when he was actually able to help induct The Ramones into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. Eddie Vedder gave the speech, and since Joey had died only year prior, Green Day took the stage to perform ‘Teenage Lobotomy’, ‘Rockaway Beach’, and ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ in place of the legendary group.
Watch the band’s performance of classic Ramones tunes down below.