Friday, January 8, 2010


Until a few weeks ago, I had never heard of Too Tough To Die: A Tribute To Johnny Ramone. A friend of mine at work told me about it, and I searched it out.  It is a DVD of a concert that paid tribute to the guitarist of The Ramones, and raised money for cancer research.  Johnny died from cancer just two days later.

The concert was hosted by Rob Zombie, and featured sets by The Dickies, X and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. After that, there was a band featuring bassist C.J. Ramone, drummer Marky Ramone and guitarist Daniel Rey (not a Ramone, but he did produce some of their records). They did a bunch of songs that Dee Dee Ramone had sung, with C.J. singing. Pete Yorn, Dickey Barrett from The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Tim Armstrong from Rancid, Eddie Vedder and Henry Rollins each took the mic for a few tunes.  It was a pretty incredible show.

The film was directed by Mandy Stein, whose father signed The Ramones to their first deal and whose mother was their first manager. She mentions in the liner notes that her first Ramones concert was when she was 3 years old! Her parents couldn't get a babysitter that night, so they took her to CBGB. She filmed the concert so that she could show it to Johnny: they knew he wouldn't be healthy enough to make the show. Mandy Stein says that she hopes that the film would have made Johnny proud.  I don't know too much about the guy, but I'm sure it would.  It is a great film. Congratulations Ms. Stein.

How do you describe the greatness of The Ramones?  I was late to the party - not that I disliked them, but I didn't search out their music other than the few radio songs until the '90s, but I'm glad I did. A lot of people just don't get it though. It's like the blues.  Technically, almost anyone can play it. But everyone playing a blues lick ain't Buddy or Muddy, and just because just about anyone could bash out those few magic chords, doesn't mean they'll be worth listening to, much less earth shaking like The Ramones were. If you don't like The Ramones, do yourself a favor and get their first album and listen to it.  If you don't like it, listen to it again.  You'll probably get it. Sometimes there is a beauty in power and simplicity.

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