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Monday April 23, 2001

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Thank You, Joey Ramone

By Shaun Clayton

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Last Saturday at 2:40 p.m. in New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Joey Ramone, a man who changed many lives as lead singer of The Ramones, died of cancer at age 49.

Many people who are reading this right now are probably saying to themselves, "Who are The Ramones?"

If one were to look around on the Internet for answers, one would find The Ramones defined as "four leather-clad, long-haired pals who, in 1976, changed all their last names to 'Ramone,' and formed a band with a unique brand of high-energy, fast-moving songs that laid the foundation for punk-rock music."

This little factoid is nice and well-put, but it doesn't come close to explaining what Joey Ramone and The Ramones did to change the lives of many people.

Why don't I start but explaining how they changed mine.

Once upon a time, back in the early '90's, I was in high school. For me, high school was not, as the principal said in every school assembly, "the best time of your life."

It was, by far, the worst time in my life. I had no athletic ability, wore braces, had horrible acne and liked art. I was picked on and beaten up on a regular basis.

I tried to seek some sort of escape, something to keep my mind off the constant pain and humiliation. Television was nice, as was Nintendo, but it got a little tedious. Taking a more adult approach to relieving pain (as in drinking large quantities of alcohol) worked at first, but something about waking up in your own puke on a regular basis just didn't seem appealing to me.

So, I tried to find solace in music. Unfortunately, this was before the days of the Internet and Napster, so to get great quantities of music for free, one had to listen to the radio, which had made great strides in the area of sucking.

Finding radio was a dead end in my music-seeking crusade, I turned to what few friends I had to see what music they listened to. My cousin happened to like this band called The Ramones.

Actually, liked was an understatement. He worshiped The Ramones like gods on high, attempting to acquire anything relating to The Ramones that wasn't nailed down.

"These guys must be really good," I thought to myself, and borrowed his Ramones greatest-hits compilation, "Ramones Mania," and gave it a listen.

I was hooked from the first few seconds of hearing "Blitzkreig Bop." The piercing guitar, the pacing and the chants of "Hey, ho! Let's go!" were like -well, it was like nothing I had ever experienced before. The Ramones took a car to the downtown of my soul, went to the house of suffering and pain, pulled my enemies out of bed, dragged them into the street and beat the crap out of them with baseball bats.

It was then that The Ramones - not Jesus - became my own personal saviors. Bad day at school led to Ramones at night. Bad day at work on the weekends led to Ramones on my time off. Turned down by yet another girl - Ramones. Parents ragging on me - Ramones. Ramones, Ramones, Ramones.

The Ramones helped me. They changed my life by getting me through pain and suffering that would have otherwise driven me completely insane. Joey Ramone was a huge part of that. He saved me, and he saved a lot of other people like me, and even though he's gone, I will always remember him and what he did for me.

Thank you, Joey.