Thursday, May 19, 2016

Joey Ramone Birthday Bash at the Studio at Webster Hall

Joey Ramone, the late vocalist of the ground-breaking punk band the Ramones, this year would have turned 65 years old on May 19. For several years before his death in 2001, he invited his friends and fans to a birthday party. For the past 16 years, this day has continued to be reserved for an annual Joey Ramone Birthday Bash tribute at a local venue, drawing many of his contemporaries and recalling the glory days of the late 1970s punk rock movement. This year the event was held at the Studio at Webster Hall.

Ramone's late mother, Charlotte Lesher, and brother, Mickey Leigh, organized the first Joey Ramone Birthday Bash one month after Ramone lost his seven-year battle with lymphoma in April 2001. Lesher and Leigh had promised Ramone that they would celebrate his 50th birthday. That first tribute was held at the Hammerstein Ballroom. The event has continued annually, drawing many of New York's original punk rockers to celebrate and perform Ramones songs.

This year's concert began with mini-concerts by David Peel & the Lower East Side, the Threads, the Queers, Tracy Thornton's Pan for Punks, Blue Coupe and Barb Wire Dolls. Craig Leon, the producer of the first Ramones album, answered questions from the audience. That Ramones album celebrates its 40th anniversary, so various performers took the stage to recreate the album with a house band consisting of guitarists Cheetah Chrome of the Dead Boys and Walt Stack of the Bullys, bassist Mike Watt of the Minutemen and the Stooges and drummer Clem Burke of Blondie.

All proceeds from the concert went to lymphoma research in memory of Ramone. Further donations may be contributed to the Joey Ramone Foundation for Lymphoma Research at P.O. Box 1107, Cooper Station, New York, NY 10276.

The Queers, a punk rock band formed in 1981, were inspired by the Ramones.

Blue Coupe features Albert Bouchard and Joe Bouchard of Blue Öyster Cult and Dennis Dunaway of the original Alice Cooper group. They covered BOC's "Don't Fear the Reaper"  and Alice Cooper's "School's Out."

Barb Wire Dolls, led by vocalist Isis Queen, is a punk band from Greece.

Craig Leon, producer of the first Ramones album, answered questions from the audience.

George Tabb of Roach Motel, False Prophets, Letch Patrol, Gynocologists, Iron Prostate and Furious George, sang "Beat on the Brat" while waving a plastic baseball bat.

Andy Shernoff, formerly of the Dictators, sang "Judy Is a Punk."

Mick Stitch of L.E.S. Stitches and the Threads sang "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend."

Richard Bacchus of D-Generation sang "Chainsaw."

James Boland, who plays Joey Ramone on HBO's Vinyl, sang "Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue."

Mickey Leigh of the Rattlers sang "I Don't Wanna Go Down to the Basement" from the audience.

Russell Wolinsky of the Sic F*cks sang "Loudmouth."

Evil Presly of the Independents sang "Havana Affair."

Albert Bouchard and Joe Bouchard of Blue Oyster Cult sang "Listen to My Heart."

Paul Zone of the Fast sang "53rd & 3rd."

Tim Heap of the band Heap sang "Let's Dance."

Joey Lanz of the Bullys sang "I Don't Wanna Walk Around with You" and "Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World."

Clem Burke of Blondie reunites with his old buddy, journalist Everynight Charley Crespo.