Dammit. Even though I (perhaps unlike most) knew Joey was sick, still the news came like a punch in the gut. Joey Ramone dead at 49. To most of America maybe Joey was just the lead singer in a band which, as the mainstream news reports all seemed to include, “never appeared in the Top 40.”

But we both know better. Play It’s a Wonderful Life with me for just one moment. What if no Joey Ramone? Well, first off, no Ramones. No Ramones English tour 1976. No London Roundhouse shows attended by people that would later form bands like The Clash and The Sex Pistols.

Without the burgeoning success of punk overseas and without The Ramones here, for all we know, CBGB’s could’ve stayed as it was originally intended • a place to play “Country, Blue Grass, and Blues.” So no Television, no Voidoids. No Blondie. No Talking Heads.

In short, no punk rock. Oh sure, there might’ve been rock and roll that was damn good, and that even sounded a lot like punk rock. After all, there were already bands like The Dolls and the Midwestern scene spawning The MC5 and Iggy, but when The Dead Boys were ready to pick up and move from Ohio to New York, could they have managed it? Would anybody have listened? And without the poster boys for Punk magazine, whatever happened probably wouldn’t have been called “punk rock.”

Think of all the things we take for granted as a result of The Ramones. The acceptability, after the Sixties were done, of a song that•s only two minutes long. Or less. Converse high tops. Mosrite guitars. Straight-legged jeans and leather jackets. Band members who used their band name for their last name. “1-2-3-4!” “Gabba gabba hey!”

I miss you already Joey. Rest in peace.

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