Ramones 40th Birthday Bash Bonanza Continues

05 Aug Ramones 40th Birthday Bash Bonanza Continues

Read the original post on Forbes.com

To Black Flag frontman Henry Rollins it’s no surprise that 40 years after they changed the face of punk music, Queens, New York’s favorite sons, the Ramones, are bigger than ever. “I think the Ramones go from generation to generation like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, these are ageless bands,” he says. “For me, Zeppelin always works, [Jimi] Hendrix always works, it doesn’t sound old. And, for me at least, Ramones music is like that.”

Rollins has no doubt that if the Ramones were alive today they’d be enjoying their status as music legends. “In 2016 it very well could be if the Ramones were able to magically regenerate and play they would be doing the Hollywood Bowl, they would be an act people would be standing in line to get tickets to,” he says. “They were very successful in their time, but if you could take the love and appreciation they have now it would be headlining Coachella.”

This is not just speculation on Rollins’ part. We are speaking at Hollywood Forever Cemetery on a Sunday evening, where Johnny Ramone’s widow, Linda Ramone, is hosting her eleventh annual tribute to her late husband. Thousands have come into the cemetery to watch a double feature of the Ramones film Rock ‘n’ Roll High School and Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains, as well as hear a Q&A from members of the Rock ‘n’ Roll High School cast, a speech from Rollins and a special performance from X’s John Doe and the Sex Pistols’ Steve Jones.

 For Linda, one of the gatekeepers of the Ramones’ legacy, along with Joey Ramone’s brother Mickey Leigh, and in particular Johnny’s legacy, making sure to keep the name vibrant is the best tribute to her late husband, who loved the band. “Johnny loved being a Ramone,” she says. “He thought it was so cool being Johnny Ramone, it made him feel like king of the world.”

Co-managing the Ramones legacy with Dave Frey is Jeff Jampol, who also manages the Doors, as well as the estates of Janis Joplin, Otis Redding, Rick James, Muddy Waters and more. Jampol has carved out a unique niche for himself “managing legends,” as he puts it. To him, the trick is to focus on bringing in new fans, not just pleasing the diehards.

“The Ramones are very popular and they’ve had a fan base for 40 years, and one of the issues I have to deal with is many of my partners and vendors are focused 100 percent on the Ramones existing fan base,” he says. “But I would say 70 to 80 percent of our focus is on potential new fans.”

To him, there’s no reason new fans can’t feel the same sense of discovery hearing the Ramones for the first time he did in 1976. “There was a magic to Jim Morrison that connected to me as an 11-year-old and there was a magic to the Ramones that connected to me as an 18-year-old and that feeling is giddy, powerful and important,” he says. “I truly believe that art saves lives, I truly believe it saved mine and I truly believe it was my rope to sanity. And one of my primary missions is to carry that music and message forward so that 11-year-olds of today and the future can experience that same galvanizing response and reaction. So things we do are focused to bringing that legacy and that magic forward in ways that are credible to say an 11 to 30-year-old fan, as well as existing fans.”

To accomplish that goal there is an ambitious slate of projects coming down the pike from the Ramones as the band continues to celebrate their fortieth anniversary in a major way. Jampol ran down several of the projects for us, from a limited edition box set to a comic book meeting of mammoth proportions.

The Museum Exhibit:

“We have launched a two-part museum exhibit. Part one is at the Queens Museum Of Art. Part two will open September 16 at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles on two floors and that will be there through February. After that, both parts will be joined together and that exhibit will tour the world.”

The Documentary:

“We are in pre-production on a Ramones documentary, a feature documentary which will be in theaters, as well as on premium cable television and DVD, which we’re talking to Emmet Malloy about directing.”

The Book:

“We are preparing a hardbound book, which consists of texts, articles and photos, focusing on the explosion of punk rock, that period in 1976 to 1980. The book is being written by David Fricke and will be edited by Dave DiMartino, it will be coming as a companion piece to the museum exhibit.”

“We have a fortieth anniversary logo, which we’re incorporating this year only in a lot of our merchandise and apparel. After that it will disappear forever.”

The Box Set:

“Just completed a really amazing project, we found the original producer of the Ramones first album, gentleman named Craig Leon. Craig has been living in London and for the past couple of decades producing classical records and symphonic music. In discussions with Craig we talked about the making of that first album. Craig told us, ‘When we were originally envisioning that record I was discussing it with Tommy and Johnny Ramone and our wish was we wanted to go to Abbey Road and record it and mix it in mono. But of course we never had the opportunity to do that because of the cost involved.’ So we sent him back to Abbey Road, he remastered the entire record and then he took all of the multi tracks, mixed it in mono at Abbey Road exactly like the band had first envisioned. So we’re calling that the fortieth anniversary mono mix. We’re coming out with a beautiful box set, which will include the first album remastered by the original producer, also two live shows at the Roxy from 1976, when the Ramones were first playing in Los Angeles. There are some demos and outtakes and alternate takes Craig had produced for the band. And also a 12” vinyl LP of the mono mix. In the box set we did extensive liner notes by Craig and an extensive essay by Mitchell Cohen. So it’s really a lot of information in this box set. If you want an introduction to the Ramones, punk rock, 1976 and what was happening this is a perfect vehicle to enter that world. It’s numbered, we’re making 19,760 copies, every single one is numbered. After that it’s gone. $64.98 is the retail price.”

The Comic Book:

“October 5 there’s an Archie’s comic book coming, Archie meets the Ramones. It’s a large-scale, perfect bound comic in limited edition. It’s 48 pages, there are four varying covers and each one is a limited edition.”