I have been going to the annual Johnny Ramone Tribute at Hollywood Forever Cemetery for a few years, and it seems that the event grows to new awesome proportions each year, or at least I have the feeling it gets better each time I go!!
Johnny Ramone, who died of cancer on September 15th, 2004, is celebrated every year, and the proceeds of the show benefit the Johnny & Linda Ramone Foundation & Dr. David Agus for cancer research at USC. Each time, the night is the occasion for some cool music recital by the most surprising guests, and famous musicians come to see impromptu super bands forming for the night and covering the Ramones or other iconic classic songs.
On Sunday night, after a short introduction by a shiny turquoise Linda Ramone and street artist and friend Shepard Fairey, Grace McKagan, Duff’s young daughter, sang accompanied on guitar by 2 guitarists, including Sex Pistols’ Steve Jones, better known as Jonesy. Then we had the privilege to listen to a killer guitar-drum quartet, consisting of Duff McKagan, Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong, Fred Armisen, and Steve Jones, covering the Sex Pistols’ ‘Pretty Vacant’, Johnny Thunders’ ‘Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory’, and of course a few Ramones’ classics, such as ‘Danny Says’, ‘Can’t Make It On Time’, ‘Can’t Put Your Arms’, ‘Judy Is a Punk’, ‘Rockaway Beach’…
It was Billie Joe Armstrong’s first apparition at the event, whereas Jonesy and Fred Armisen have been staples of the tribute. The soundtrack of the evening was provided by DJ Howie Pyro, whereas a brand-new art, photography, and memorabilia exhibit was curated by Danny Fuentes from Lethal Amounts Gallery, in one of the mausolea and was featuring items from Johnny’s collection, photos of the Ramones, plus art inspired by Johnny Ramone, including a few pieces by Shepard Fairey.
Traci Lords introduced the movie of the night, Roger Vadim’s cult movie ‘Barbarella’, starring the sexy Jane Fonda, as the film incredibly turned 50 this year. It was one of Johnny Ramone’s favorites as he loved sci-fi and cult films, and ‘bad girls’ as Traci Lord added. Among the crowd, I recognized many indie bands musicians such as Dani Miller of Surfbort, Jeffertitti Moon of the Entire Universe, Brian D’Addario of the Lemon Twigs, Anastasia of Pinky Pinky, awesome guitarist Kevin Tyler Preston of Prima Donna and The Long Shot’s, but also Blondie’s Clem Burke, Lukas Nelson (Willie’s son and frontman of Promise of the Real, the band which backed up Neil Young at Arroyo Seco!) as well as a few other celebrities such as Tatum O’ Neal, Vincent Gallo and probably many others I didn’t recognize.
But the big surprise was an apparition of the Moz himself, as Morrissey made a very remarkable entrance, accompanied by a few bodyguards, who were protecting him like watchdogs. He was quite an enthusiastic spectator during the mini-recital, clapping along with the Ramones’ classics and even headbanging. He is a big Ramones fan, I have heard, so dear Mr. Moz, why not getting on stage for a few songs next time?
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