When Joey Ramone succumbed to cancer back in 2001, I was still working at TIME Magazine as a news desk editor. At the story meeting that morning, editors sat around the big conference table bandying ideas around as to who the magazine should reach out to for the purposes of penning a eulogy. A few chimed in suggesting "Johnny Rotten," the erstwhile Sex Pistol's infamously thorny persona still being the go-to name for all things punk rock. Rarely did I speak up in these meetings, being that I was a comparatively lower-ranking member of the team, but here was a subject I warmed to, to say the least. Knowing that John Lydon has never had anything even remotely positive to say about the contributions of the Ramones, I jumped into the conversation. You can read the rest of that saga here.
Thirteen years later, we've just lost the last original member of the Ramones to cancer. In typical fashion, the media are still getting their facts wrong. Reports seem split on whether he was 62 or 65. One network news program prefaced their report of Tommy (Erdelyi) Ramone's death with a snippet from the video for "I Wanna Be Sedated," taken from Road to Ruin ... an album Tommy did not play on. Minor quibbles, maybe, but c'mon ... get it right.
Anyway, one media outlet who did get it right was SPIN online. Instead of roping in Pete Wentz or Pink or, y'know, one of those douchebags from Train, SPIN had the insight to contact one of their former regular contributors, PUNK Magazine scribe and "Please Kill Me" author Legs McNeil. By this stage of the proceedings -- with all four original members dead, to say nothing of the band's visual mastermind Arturo Vega -- you would be hard-pressed to name someone more versed in the Ramones' inner circle.
I actually had the privilege of working with Legs in the summer of 1989 when I interned at SPIN (you can read that sepia-toned epic poem here). He could be alternately rude, hilarious, cantankerous, thoughtful, abusive, somber, inspired and tirelessly inappropriate, but he was never, ever boring. Legs' eulogy to his fallen friend has a sobering finality to it, and might just be the only piece on Tommy Ramone's death you need to read.
The only other piece I've read about Tommy Ramone's death that struck a chord with me was from the Daily Mash (sort of Britain's answer to The Onion). The headline pretty much sums it up: 99 per cent of Ramones t-shirt owners not upset.