The 2016 Johnny Ramone Tribute –
40th Anniversary Edition
Hollywood Forever Cemetery
July 24, 2016
Writing and Photography by TourBusLive.com
You’d never think you’d find as much life in a place that houses the dead, but the 2016 JOHNNY RAMONE TRIBUTE – 40th ANNIVERSARY EDITION this past Sunday at the HOLLYWOOD FOREVER CEMETERY was anything but somber! Celebrating the memory of punk guitar legend Johnny Ramone, and celebrating his famed band’s 40th anniversary, was reason enough to make some noise. But don’t worry – it’s doubtful the permanent residents complained.
Take it from me, this nearly-annual event’s hostess, the lovely LINDA RAMONE, never fails to put on ONE HELL OF A PARTY!
Keeping her late husband’s legacy alive, along with that of his also-departed band mates (singer Joey Ramone died in 2001, bassist Dee Dee Ramone in 2002, and, just last year, the last original member of the band, drummer Tommy Ramone passed away), is certainly one reason Linda continues to put on these tribute events. Another reason is to raise money for the Johnny and Linda Ramone Foundation to support research on prostate cancer (which took Johnny’s life). But, judging from the massive attendance (in the thousands), Linda also obviously does this for the fans. Throngs of Ramones-loving fans braved the unusual L.A. heat and filled the grassy lawn at Hollywood Forever to not only celebrate the lives of their lost punk heroes, but to witness the first-ever reunion of the cast and crew of cult-classic film ROCK AND ROLL HIGH SCHOOL, which starred the Ramones and their music!
With old friend and co-host – Sex Pistols guitarist STEVE JONES (his radio show, Jonesy’s Jukebox, is on KLOS weekdays from noon to 2 p.m.), Linda kicked off the night with a short opening and quickly introduced the night’s first guest – Johnny Ramone’s own doctor, DR. DAVID AGUS of the Keck Hospital at USC. Dr. Agus spoke about the importance of the work he and others are doing to advance care and treatment of the disease which finally fell the legendary Ramone, and noted how much progress has been made in fighting prostate cancer even since then.
Next, Linda introduced HENRY ROLLINS, who then, in pure “Henry” style (if you have seen him, you know what I mean), shared amusing anecdotes with the audience about his first meeting the Ramones, heart-felt stories of the times he shared with the guys, and observations on why this band was such an influence on him and on all fans of music.
After that fervent tribute, Henry brought up the evening’s panel moderator – the legendary guitarist JOHN DOE of X. John also spoke of his love for the Ramones, and then introduced (to much applause) the cast and crew of Rock and Roll High School, including the film’s producer ROGER CORMAN, actor VINCE VAN PATTEN, actress PJ SOLES (remember her in Stripes!?!), director ALLAN ARKUSH, actress DEY YOUNG, alternate director (after Arkush took ill) JOE DANTE (surely you know his work – Gremlins and Inner Space, just to mention a couple), actress MARY WORONOV (who played the mean Principal Togar), and infamous character actor CLINT HOWARD (seriously, you’ve seen him in a hundred films)! The cast and crew told tales and intimate details of the making of the movie, and even revealed that the movie’s hero band was originally supposed to be Cheap Trick (what a different movie THAT would have been), but that the Ramones were asking a mere $20K ($30K less than Cheap Trick) – so, with the movie’s limited $300K budget, producer Gorman jumped at the chance to save a little cash. Turned out to be the best choice of all! The rest, as they say, is history!
Immediately following the panel, Doe returned to the stage, along with Steve Jones, who drug up with him Linda Ramone so that the two could first lead the crowd in a surprise sing-along of HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Linda (whose birthday was that very day!). Doe and Jonesy then followed, with the help of the fans, with a short acoustic guitar duet of the Ramones’ classic title song for the night – “Rock and Roll High School”, just before the movie began. Fun, fun – Oh Baby!
And then there was everything else to celebrate: Johnny Ramone’s 8-foot-tall bronze statue all dressed up special for the evening with a beautiful flower mosaic at its base, and Dee Dee’s tombstone nearby also decorated with love, a fantastic display of (Metallica guitarist) KIRK HAMMETT’s immense and extremely rare and valuable horror movie memorabilia collection (in the equally spooky Cathedral Mausoleum), the vinyl spinnings of DJ (and bass player) HOWIE PYRO (a great selection of crowd-appropriate favorites), and multiple food trucks parked along the thin cemetery streets to feed the fans during the movie screenings of both Rock and Roll High School and Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains.
Donations to the Keck Hospital can continue to be made here:
And, of course, we’ll keep celebrating the Ramones for another forty years. HEY, HO, LET’S GO!
SPOTTED IN THE CROWD: Musician Pete Yorn, singer/musician Cindy Wasserman, artist Shepard Fairey, actress Rosanna Arquette, creator of the Coffin Case guitar cases (and artist) Jonny Coffin, wife of panel member Vince Van Patten and Beverly Hills Housewife (with her massive t.v. show crew in tow) Eileen Davidson, and a shit-ton of Ramones t-shirts. Can’t go wrong with that!