Joey Ramone represented everything you want in a rockstar. He was a tough figure to impress, but once you got on his right side, then Ramone was as loyal as the day is long. One band from the other side of the Atlantic occupied a special place in his heart, and he once declared them as being the only other group who mattered. (Spoiler alert: It wasn’t The Clash).
The Ramones were different. They did things their way, and compromise wasn’t a word that existed within their lexicon. Joey never attempted to be the stereotypical ‘cool frontman’. It was effortless to him, and this was a skill that he understood as a rock music rarity. He had no time for phoneys, and there was one band who he saw as kindred spirits.
Even though The Ramones arrived like a tornado in the late 1970s to spearhead the punk rock movement, unlike most of their peers, they continued to fight the good fight when everyone believed that the scene was dead. It didn’t matter whether punk was still in vogue or not to Joey, it’s all he knew, and he remained one until he drew his final breath.
However, Joey Ramone’s music taste wasn’t handcuffed exclusively to punk in the traditional sense, but it’s undeniable that his favourite band had an anti-establishment ethos ingrained into them. “Everything is so pretentious nowadays, we just hit the stage and blow you away without any pretension, or crap like half these bands that exist,” Ramone brashly stated in an interview in 1991. “I feel like the Ramones and Motorhead are the only two bands that matter, y’know,” he added in his thick New York accent.
“I mean, there’s some more good bands out there, there’s probably more bands now than ever before that are worth it like Faith No More and Manitoba’s Wild Kingdom,” Ramone added.
The love was mutual between the two acts, and Lemmy might even have had more admiration for the Ramones than vice versa. Motorhead released the track, ‘R.A.M.O.N.E.S.’ in 1991, which became a staple in both band’s live sets for years. In fact, Lemmy even performed it with the New Yorkers at their final show in 1996. After the track’s release, Joey Ramone said: “It was the ultimate honour – like John Lennon writing a song for you.”
Lemmy opened up about their friendship with StayThirsty in 2007, he revealed he’d known the group since they first came to the UK in 1976, and they stayed in contact ever since. “I just fell in well with Joey and Dee Dee, you know. Johnny wasn’t so friendly but then he never was,” he noted. “The other two I got on really well with. And, terrible they’re all gone. I couldn’t believe it. I mean, Johnny and Dee went within seven months of each other? Ridiculous. Bang, bang, bang, they’re all gone.”
He continued: “I think they kind of died when Dee Dee left, you know, in a way. I think that crippled Joey, because he had no buddies in the band then.”
The fact that Motorhead were true to themselves just like the Ramones had was the catalyst for the two bands becoming unusual bedfellows. Neither professed to be anything they weren’t, and the authenticity would shine through in their chosen area of music. It didn’t matter that they made different brands of music because they were both real in a pool of pretenders.