Well, I guess that's that.
Nothing against Tommy (who changed his name back and started producing records well before the end of the 70's), or Marky (whose tenure was long enough to almost qualify as an original member) or those other later drummers or bassists, but those three guys in front were the Ramones. Each had a clear role in their ritualized concerts, and apparently each one had as key and well-defined role behind the scenes.
My overall response to the music has been well documented here, and originally here when Joey died - but beyond that, Johnny's death has got me thinking of the nature of fandom (and for that matter, band-dom too). The band's feuds have become increasingly discussed and documented - with the RRHOF induction, the movie opening, and this week's news - but at the time they weren't a particularly important factor. Sure I had a few friends who'd pass along the occasional disquiting tidbit, maybe something they'd read in Creem or NY Rocker - the guys didnt speak to each other, Johnny was a Republican; but at 11 pm and age 18 when I cranked Rocket to Russia, none of that really mattered.
These days at 11 pm, an obsessive 18 year old fan might just as likely sign on to a bulletin board about their favorite band, where they can spend hours deconstructing and arguing about every bit of public news and rumor about the band. Sure that's great right? Information should be free etc. But it puts the bands under such a microscope to have every move and emotion scrutinized, it's a wonder any of them stay together. A lot of bands are made of highly emotional and needy people to begin with, and the pressure run high as they cram themselves in a rolling star chamber with each other for months at a time; then this scrutiny from their audience just adds to the situation.
All of which I guess makes me appreciate Johnny's role, perhaps in retrospect more than at the time. Onstage, the other two guys up front were more accessible - Joey was lanky and cuddly, and Dee Dee got to go 'OneTwoThreeFour.' But the core of the band's sound was rooted in Johnny's unrelenting barre chord attack. And apparently behind the scenes, Johnny was the taskmaster, the drill sergeant who held it all together. That role isn't going to win you too many friends, but it's absolutely necessary if you're going to keep such an insane and amazing venture together for a quarter-century.
See also Ben's thoughts in the next post.
And here's a couple of other random things:
Marky's statement - via Aversion.com
And a genius comment on a CrookedTimber post transcribing the purported solo in "I Wanna Be Sedated"