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May 19: The Ramones

Lawrence Bush
May 19, 2010

RamonesJoey Ramone (Jeffrey Hyman), the tall, gawky lead singer of the iconic punk band the Ramones, was born on this date in 1951 in Forest Hills, New York. He founded the Ramones in 1974 with John Cummings and Douglas Colvin. They toured for the next 22 years, and all three of them were dead within eight years of their break-up in 1996. Their best-known songs included “I Wanna Be Sedated” and “Teenage Lobotomy.” Joey Ramone had a vocal style described by MTV as “alternately snarling and crooning” and “hiccoughing.” He suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder and Marfans syndrome. Although the Ramones achieved only minor commercial success, they became the leading symbol of punk rock and earned their place on Rolling Stone’s list of the 50 Greatest Artists of All Time and in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. One block of East 2nd Street, where CBGB’s used to stand, is named “Joey Ramone Place.” To see the official video of their classic song, “I Wanna Be Sedated,” look below.

“We’re the only band that kept the guts, and kept the excitement, and kept the belief, you know. We never sidetracked. We never . . . wanted to get into the discotheques that bad.” —Joey Ramone

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.