"This was a very special evening. The bands, the Ramones' fans and the
atmosphere in the club were charged with a feeling of great love and
appreciation for what Dee Dee Ramone brought to our lives." So stated
Trigger, owner of legendary New York City club Continental, who created
the idea for and donated the use of his venue to a very special musical
event called "A Tribute To Our Friend Dee Dee Ramone." The concert took
place Tuesday evening, July 2nd, just one month after punk rock icon Dee
Dee Ramone died in his Los Angeles home.
Dee Dee and his band mates were frequent visitors to Continental, both as
audience members and performers on stage. After leaving The Ramones, Dee
Dee often played at the club with his new groups. Trigger explains: "I
wanted to do something to honor his memory, and approached Marky (Ramone).
He immediately said 'Yes, but let's do it right.' CJ (Ramone) told me
'I'm there - Dee Dee was like a big brother to me.' (Ramones record
producer) Daniel Rey was also very enthusiastic about it." And so the
event was born, with superstars of the NY music scene coming out to pay
homage to the man known as the quintessential punk rocker.
Dee Dee's widow Barbara gave her blessing to the event, requesting that
proceeds be donated to UNICEF. The "house band" was formed with Marky on
drums, CJ on bass and Daniel on guitar, and as word spread in the rock and
roll community, musicians came forward on very little notice to donate
their talents without payment. Drawing appearances by the likes of
Dictators' Handsome Dick Manitoba, the Misfits' Jerry Only, Murphy's Law's
Jimmy G, the Hearthbreakers' Walter Lure, the Lunachicks' Theo, and
special surprise guest Tommy Ramone, the evening also featured up and
coming bands performing their renditions of classic Ramones songs. The
entire proceeds from the $15 ticket price went to UNICEF resulting in a
check for several thousand dollars to the charity. As Continental's doors
opened at 9PM, the line waiting to get in stretched around the block, and
the evening became an instant sold out success. Free copies of Dee Dee's
books (autobiography "Lobotomy" and novel "Chelsea Horror Hotel") were
handed out to the first few hundred patrons, courtesy of the publisher.
Throughout the night, the audience was treated to amazing renditions of
Ramones songs by a wide array of rock and roll's finest musicians.
Fans and bands alike paid homage to Dee Dee all night in words and song.
The stage was simply adorned with an oversized black and white photo of
Dee Dee playing his guitar, his expression showing all his love and
emotion for his craft. Serving as the evening's MC, Jerry Only (The
Misfits) said: "Dee Dee was 'the man'. He was unpredictable and
spontaneous. I enjoyed his company and his music. He was my friend and
my brother. I will always keep him in my heart." Musically, the evening
kicked off with a rousing two-tune set by Charm School ("Ramona"),
followed by buzz band the Star Spangles ("53rd & 3rd," "Time Bomb"),
Furious George ("Betty Crocker," "Today Your Love‚...") led by New York
Press columnist George Tabb, and the Toilet Boys ("Carbona Not Glue,"
"I Just Want To Have Something To Do") fronted by transsexual lead singer
Miss Guy. Lead guitarist Sean Pierce felt: "Dee Dee was awesome, he was
really cool, he really treated us right as a band and as people. It was a
pleasure getting to hang out with him and play shows with him. It's an
honor to be here to remember him tonight." Tabb added: "Dee Dee Ramone
was one of a kind. There will never be another like him. I am honored to
have been best man at his wedding to Barbara, and even more honored to be
asked to play at his memorial. Dee Dee was one of the biggest influences
on my life, and his humor and niceness will stay with me forever."
Trigger spoke a heartfelt memorial and revealed that three years ago, Dee
Dee had decorated the walls of the club's private dressing room with his
own special brand of graffiti art that has been preserved. He promised
that at the end of the night, those who wanted to see the artwork would be
given an escorted look. This led into a screening of a never before seen
15-minute "home movie" video with footage of Dee Dee through the years.
When it was over, The Bullys took the stage ("Cretin Hop," "I Don't Want
You," "53rd & 3rd"), joined on "Questioningly" by Mickey Leigh - brother
of the late Joey Ramone and a recording artist in his own right - filling
in for the band's former guitarist John Heffernan, a volunteer firefighter
who was lost in the WTC tragedy. Leigh - who knew Dee Dee perhaps longer
than anyone else there - said: "My friendship with Dee Dee began 32 years
ago when Johnny introduced us in 1970. He lived across the street from
Joey and me and, needless to say, his character and immense talent greatly
affected our lives. The loss of another 'brother' in our extended family
was eased somewhat by the graciousness of Trigger and the staff of
Continental. Once again, the outpouring of love, respect and support from
the community was overwhelming at this beautiful and moving musical
memorial. I hope I don't have to go to another one for a long, long time."
A version of The Misfits (Jerry Only, Marky Ramone, Dez Cadena of Black
Flag) rocked out on "Havana Affair," "I Don't Care," Garden Of Serenity"
and "Pet Cemetery." "Dee Dee was like a Tasmanian devil, a whirling
dervish of rock," Dez revealed. "It was a joy to know him the last year
of his life on earth."
After Jesse Malin (D Generation) and Joe McGinty (Loser's Lounge)
performed an acoustic version of "Questioningly," Marky, CJ and Daniel Rey
thrilled the audience with blistering versions of "Strength To Endure,"
"Long Way Back To Germany," "Warthog," "Pinhead," and "Swallow My Pride,"
with Daniel and CJ trading off lead vocals. "I think that Dee Dee was the
greatest at what he did," said Marky, "He was the blueprint of punk.
After him, the mold broke. Obviously his influence and The Ramones'
influence spread and keeps spreading throughout the world." Daniel added:
"Dee Dee was one of a kind - a fearless talent with a pure heart. He was
the soul of the Ramones and the prototype for the entire punk rock scene."
Poignantly, CJ remarked: "I'll miss you a lot, big brother."
Then, with Marky, CJ and Daniel serving as the band, it was time for the
special guests to perform. Leading the way were Theo (the Lunachicks) and
Sean (the Toilet Boys) on "Commando;" Jimmy G (Murphy's Law) on "Beat On
The Brat;" and Handsome Dick Manitoba (The Dictators, Manitoba's Wild
Kingdom) on "Rockaway Beach." "Dee Dee was a punk genius," he said. "He
wrote some of the best songs of the genre." Next up was Walter Lure (the
Heartbreakers) on "Chinese Rocks" and "Born To Lose," and then Marky
introduced Ramones long time tour manager Monte Melnick, who spoke briefly
but from the heart. "Dee Dee was one of those rare people who walk the
razor fine line between genius and insanity. When he slipped over that
line into genius, we'll judge it by his brilliant song writing.
Unfortunately, he slipped over that dark line of insanity far too often.
He will be missed."
Just when the audience thought things couldn't get any better, out came
Tommy Ramone, founding member and original drummer for The Ramones.
Stepping into the spotlight and up to the microphone after virtually years
out of the limelight, Tommy amazed and thrilled the crowd as he sang lead
vocals on one of the best-known Ramones songs, "I Wanna Be Your
Boyfriend." "Dee Dee was the romantic one in the Ramones," he revealed.
"He was also one of the major architects of punk rock. His songs set the
rules and made the blueprint. I had never heard songs like the ones he
wrote - they were totally original and powerful. Like Joey, Dee Dee was
loved by so many people because of his unpretentious and friendly
personality. It is so sad to have such a treasured person taken from us
at such a young age. We are truly fortunate to be left with the bounty
of his works. I feel blessed to have been lucky enough to have known
The evening ended in the only way it could, with a giant grand finale of
all the musicians on stage together performing the Ramones' trademark song
"Blitzkrieg Bop." Perhaps it was best summed up by Arturo Vega, creative
director for the Ramones and curator of Dee Dee's artwork. "Dee Dee was
the 'perfect Ramone.' All his strengths and weaknesses, his personal
characteristics, all his talent, fell within the realm of what makes the
Ramones great. He showed us how much it hurts and how much fun it is to
be a real punk."