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Johnny Ramone Tribute At Hollywood Forever, Sunday July 24th 2016

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Linda Ramone and ex-Sex Pistols’ Steve Jones have been hosting a Johnny Ramone Tribute at Hollywood Forever Cemetery for 12 years, and the event is still going strong. I attended the tribute on Sunday, on Linda’s birthday, and a large crowd of colorful punk families and die-hard Ramones fans had spread over the lawn to watch the cult movie ‘Rock & Roll High School’, featuring the Ramones of course. Proceeds from the tribute always benefit the Johnny and Linda Ramone Foundation, supporting prostate cancer research, and this year, Metallica guitarist Kirk ‘Von’ Hammett’s special collection of horror movie memorabilia was also on display, Morrison Hotel Gallery had a pop-up exhibition of Ramones and punk photography, and of course there was a special Johnny Ramone pop-up shop selling shirts, while his statue was decorated specially for the event.

Before the movie, we got to see a few celebrities, Linda Ramone is always there of course, hostess of ceremony dressed like a red queen or a cheerleader depending how you chose to interpret her bold outfit, and always willing to kindly pose for a photo with fans. Henry Rollins had some very good words (as always) about the Ramones and the greatness of their music, telling us stories about the beloved punk band and him being in awe when meeting the Ramones ‘you would never get used to it’. but these weren’t words of sadness… ‘We shouldn’t be sad, it’s something we have in common forever, the music of the Ramones in our DNA’.

There also was a long Q&A moderated by John Doe, with the cast and the writers of ‘Rock ’n’ Roll High School’. It was the first time in 30 years that PJ Soles, Mary Woronov, Clint Howard, Vince Van Patten, executive producer Roger Corman, director Allen Arkush, and writers Richard Whitley and Russ Dvonch were reunited and they shared many anecdotes about the movie. I had never heard about it but I was probably the only one in the crowd. It was funny to see people 30 years older, and PJ still looks like the bubbly enthusiastic Ramones fans she was in the film. The Ramones were surprised that director Allen Arkush – Joe Dante is also an uncredited director of the film – liked their music and that of the Grateful Dead, so he told them they were both pure and The Ramones were kind of okay with that ‘as long as he would not listen to the Dead on the set’. There were many bands around and not only they didn’t pay the extras but made them pay $2 to be involved in the movie… And with a soundtrack including Chuck Berry, Devo, Alice Cooper, Fleetwood Mac, Nick Lowe, MC5, Todd Rundgren, the Velvet Underground, Brian Eno and of course the Ramones, this is the ultimate rock ‘n’ roll movie of the 80’s. Steve Jones, wearing patriotic beach shorts, with John Doe, wearing a cowboy hat, played an acoustic version of the Ramones’ ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll High School’, a real treat before the screening of the film. I was expected more live music, but Rock ’n’ Roll High School’ offered that, from the band of the day, the Ramones.

Shepard Fairey was in the attendance and I saw him having a long discussion with Henry Rollins and I am certain the event was attended by many celebrities of the punk world, I couldn’t recognize or even see.

Of course ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll High School’ is not a great movie, but it’s a lot of fun. it follows a group of student, their love for rock ‘n’ roll and disregard of education. The leader is Riff Randell (PJ Soles), a Ramones’ fan who sleeps for days in front of the theater to be first in line to get tickets. The new principal, Miss Togar (Mary Woronov), represents the ultimate authoritarian, burning a pile of rock records, while wanting to restore order. Of course, the students triumph with a grand final explosion, as they blow up the school with the help of the Ramones, who are made honorary students. It’s as simple as you can imagine, there are many horrible jokes, but there is a free spirit running through the film, the beloved idea that rock ’n’ roll is the ultimate rebellion against authority, and the concert scenes are fantastic. I have never seen the Ramones live and this is the closest I would ever get. With their long spider legs and hair in the face, they looked like cartoon characters, and that’s why they will never die. It’s as dumb as it is fun, a movie for teens watched by middle-age punk rockers in a Hollywood cemetery during a hot summer night.

Many more pictures here.

 

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Henry Rollins

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Linda Ramone

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PJ Soles and Allen Arkush

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Steve Jones

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Rock ‘n’ Roll High School cast

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Linda and Steve

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Roger Corman and John Doe

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PJ Soles and Vince Van Patten

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John Doe

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