Johnny Ramone died Wednesday afternoon after fighting prostate cancer for five years. He was 55 years old. He is the third member of the band to die. Joey Ramone died in 2001 of lymphatic cancer. Dee Dee Ramone died of a drug overdose in 2002. I think it is safe to say that this means the end of The Ramones.
That saddens me a good deal, as I have always been a fan of The Ramones. In the late Seventies, music was dominated by disco and punk. Disco was highly commercialised, highly formulaic dance music, with little depth to it musically or lyrically. In some respects punk was its polar opposite. It was decicedly uncommercial and very primitive. About the only thing the genres had in common were the fact that they were both rather simple. The Ramones belonged to neither genre. Instead they played straight forward, fast paced rock 'n' roll. They essentially returned rock music to its roots. Their songs were fast, guitar oriented, and often angry.
Unfortunately, The Ramones never were successful commercially. They never had a top forty single and they never had a hit album. They survived primarily because of their fiercely loyal following. Despite a lack of commercial success, The Ramones would prove to have a lasting influence on rock music. Green Day, The Offspring, The Donnas, and others were heavily influenced by The Ramones. Among their followers were Eddie Vedder and Rob Zombie.
I am then greatly saddened by Johnny Ramone's death. It is not simply that he is a guitarist whose music I enjoyed. It is also that with his death one of the greatest rock 'n' roll bands of all time has come to an end. It is truly the end of an era.