I was living in Hawaii in my small and filthy apartment at the time, getting ready to move back to Ohio that Summer. I was flipping through the channels late at night and I saw a live performance of "I Believe in Miracles" being shown on MTV2. I was puzzled as to why the channel was showing a seemingly obscure Ramones video, and at the end they had a graphic and and photo that read "Joey Ramone: 1951 -2001."
I probably called Mary Alice at her parents home, but neither of us can remember. I waited up a couple of hours until I knew it would be a semi-reasonable EDT, and I called my friend Mike and woke him to tell the news. I had this black wristband for some reason, and I wore that on my arm for a week in tribute.
Mary Alice and I hosted a radio show on KTUH Honolulu at the time, and we paid tribute to Joey on our next broadcast by playing all Ramones songs and sharing some Ramones history. During the show, this guy called and meekly asked us "What happened to Joey Ramone?" We looked at each other, as it had already been approximately a week. "He died," Mary Alice said. The guy on the phone began to sob. He was able to stammer out, "Back in 1977, KTUH was the only station in Hawaii that would play the Ramones." He thanked us for what we were doing, and hung up. That one still sticks with me.
I was lucky enough to see the Ramones play an opener-length set in Cleveland in 1995, and I wish could remember more of it. I have the pinhead bringing Joey the "GABBA GABBA HEY" sign imprinted on my mind, though. Mary Alice and I visited Joey's resting place at Hillside Cemetery in Lyndhurst, New Jersey several years back, which was really cool, because there was no one else around. It was just us hanging out with Joey. We were also able to see an amazing Ramones exhibit with Josie at the Queens museum. Joey died of lymphoma, which also was the first type of cancer that Josie was diagnosed with. I strongly dislike cancer.
Hard to believe the rest of the original lineup has passed since. What else can i say, I think they're the most important band there ever was. RIP Joey