Joey Ramone is the physical embodiment of the punk movement. If you cut him open, you’d be able to smell the sticky floor of CBGB’s. Although Ramone was never the finest wordsmith music has ever seen, he made up for it in ferocity.
The Ramones never had any grand plans for world domination, that was never at the forefront of their minds, and instead, they just took life one show at a time. Their reputation for chaotic live concerts quickly implanted them as the leaders of the burgeoning New York scene, and there were no cooler cats in the Big Apple than the Ramones.
However, Joey Ramone’s music taste wasn’t handcuffed exclusively to punk in the traditional sense, although there is undoubtedly a shared ethos that ties his record collection together. It’s also worth noting that it was his band who put punk on the map, and the firebrand genre of music simply didn’t exist when he was falling in love with music as a youngster.
Ramone revealed his answers to the age-old question about the six records he’d take with him to a desert island to Entertainment Weekly in 1990, and the punk pioneer has everything covered with his enriched selections. “The soundtrack from Help,” Joey noted without a moment’s thought. “I probably wouldn’t pick any of our albums because we’re always playing, and if I was on an island, I’d rather hear something else. Know what I mean?”
Ramone continued: “The first Who album. [The Rolling Stones’] December’s Children. The Maximum Overdrive album by AC/DC. Motorhead’s No Remorse. And I’d take the Sex Pistols’ first album.”
It is romantic that the first name on Joey Ramone’s list of desert island records was The Beatles. After all, his band wouldn’t have got their name if it wasn’t for Paul McCartney, who used to check in to hotels during the early days of The Fab Four as Paul Ramon. Although Help wouldn’t be the most popular choice among Beatles fans if they could just pick one record by the group, there’s plenty on the album which would lift your spirits if you found yourself stranded on an island.
It’s also a lovely touch that The Who still played a part in Joey Ramone’s life, as in the same interview, he revealed that they were the group that inspired him to make music. “When I was 16, I saw The Who,” the singer recalls, “It was the first time they played America. It was a Murray the K show at the RKO theatre on 59th street [in New York City] — like 30 bands and The Who and Cream for the first time in America.”
Adding: “Cream were great, but The Who blew my mind. The character and the visuals, Townshend, Keith Moon. It was the best thing I’d ever seen.”
The Rolling Stones are another group that played their part in Ramones’ history, having a role to play in the New Yorker’s biggest hit, ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’, even if it was formed as a parody of Mick Jagger rather than from a place of affection. “There was a big hit by the Bay City Rollers at the time called Saturday Night, which was a chant-type song,” Tommy Ramone divulged to Louder Sound. “So I thought it would be fun to do for the Ramones too. And somehow I came up with ‘Hey! Ho! Let’s go!’ I just liked the term because it made fun of Mick Jagger singing the Stones’ version of Walking The Dog, where he goes ‘High low, tippy toe’. We all used to goof on that and sing ‘hey ho!’ instead.”
Meanwhile, the inclusion of Sex Pistols makes up for the time that Johnny Ramone once made Johnny Rotten drink his urine, which apparently was a little ‘practical joke’ that the New Yorkers always used to pull on fellow bands. “The Ramones always put a few drops of piss in anything they give to their guests as a little joke,” the late Dee Dee Ramone told Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain. “Johnny Ramone was very friendly to Johnny Rotten when they met. He shook his hand, patted him on the back and asked him if he wanted a beer,” he laughed.
On that note, check out the playlist below.
Joey Ramone’s six favourite albums
- Help! – The Beatles
- My Generation – The Who
- December’s Children – The Rolling Stones
- Who Made Who – AC/DC
- No Remorse – Motorhead
- Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols – Sex Pistols