Singer Joey Ramone, the lead singer of US punk rock group the Ramones - which launched an explosion of bands like the Clash and the Sex Pistols, has died in New York at the age of 49.
Ramone, the gangly lead singer with the leather jacket, tinted glasses and permanently-torn jeans, was taken to hospital in March with lymphoma - cancer of the lymph nodes. His death was announced yesterday by Arturo Vega, the Ramones’ long-time artistic director.
The Ramones - its four members adopted the common last name after forming the band in 1974 - came out of New York’s Queens district, a motley collection of local losers with limited musical skills.
Joey became the lead singer only after his drumming proved too rudimentary to keep up with his bandmates’ thunderous riffs.
While British bands such as the Sex Pistols and Clash received the media attention once punk rock exploded, both were schooled by the Ramones’ tour of England that began on the US Bicentennial July 4, 1976.
‘‘They changed the world of music. They rescued rock and roll from pretentiousness and unnecessary adornments,’’ said Vega.
Their ‘‘do-it-yourself,’’ garage-rock influence still echoes today in bands like Green Day and the Offspring. The low-tech Ramones spent just two days and 6,000 dollars (£4,000) recording their 1976 debut album.
‘‘They’re the daddy punk group of all time,’’ said Joe Strummer, lead singer of the Clash.
Despite their influence and critical acclaim, the Ramones never cracked the Top 40.
Bruce Springsteen, after seeing the Ramones in an Asbury Park, New Jersey, club, wrote Hungry Heart for the band but his manager convinced The Boss to keep the eventual hit single.
The Ramones’ best-known songs reflected their twisted teenage years in Queens: Beat on the Brat, I Wanna Be Sedated, Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue, Teenage Lobotomy, Sheena Is A Punk Rocker.
Joey Ramone was born Jeffrey Hyman on May 19, 1951. His career started during the early 1970s glam-rock era, when he played in several New York bands occasionally under the name Jeff Starship.
But his collaboration with Dee Dee, Johnny and Tommy Ramone was something special. They became fixtures in downtown clubs like CBGBs and Max’s Kansas City, joining fellow punks like Patti Smith and Richard Hell.
The Ramones recorded their first album of two-minute, three-chord blasts in February 1976. The band then earned a loyal cult following with a seemingly endless string of tours where they would crank out 30 songs in 90 minutes.
In 1979, Joey and the band appeared in the Roger Corman film Rock ’N’ Roll High School, contributing the title song to the soundtrack. They also did the title track for the film Pet Cemetary, based on the book by Ramones fan Stephen King.
Their last real stab at commercial success came in a bizarre 1980 collaboration with producer Phil Spector - a session that bassist Dee Dee Ramone recalled most for Spector’s pulling a gun on the band inside his Beverly Hills mansion.
Joey eventually wound up singing a syrupy version of Spector’s classic Baby, I Love You - the strangest recording of the band’s 22-year career.
The Spector-produced End Of The Century did become the Ramones’ best-selling record, hitting No 44 on the charts.
Five years later, the band released Bonzo Goes to Bitburg - Joey Ramone’s angry rant about former US president Ronald Reagan’s visit to a German military cemetery.
The Ramones disbanded in 1996 after a tour that followed their final studio album, Adios Amigos. A live farewell tour album, We’re Outta Here!, was released in 1997.
Since the band’s demise, Joey Ramone kept a fairly low profile - occasionally popping up to perform or host shows at Manhattan clubs, making occasional radio show appearances, and working on a solo album that was never released.