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In the summer of 1980, I was 14 and just starting to get sick of everyone telling me what to do. Most of my teen angst was honest to goodness straight from the heart rebelliousness fueled by the bands I was listening to at the time. Mostly "classic rock" and some early metal bands. riThen one day I met this crazy blonde girl and she was wilder than any guy I ever met. She invited me over to her house after awhile and I accepted of course! Hanging out in her room, smoking my first joint I sat and listened to the Ramones for the first time. I'd heard some stuff before, but this was the first time I was really affected by what I'd heard. I don't know if it was the weed, my raging hormones, or if the planets lined up just right but I was hooked. I'd heard of "punk" before, but I didn't get it at all. Now suddenly it all made sense.
When I finally got to High School, I met up with a guy named Nargi. He's probably most responsible for schooling me on a good amount of the next few bands I picked up on. The Clash, Sex Pistols, PIL, Vibrators, etc…He had purple hair and a picture of Sid shooting dope on the back of his leather jacket that he painted himself. Doesn't sound like much to a city dweller, but our town was blue collar all the way! Another friend (formerly enemy), Steve Gorski, taught me a lot about the politics and hierarchy of the NYC punk scene. He's also the guy who took me to shows and partys. Don't get me wrong here, I wasn't a "hardcore punk" squatting in the city and stuff. I just liked the music a lot!!!! Besides, I was still listening to all the rock and metal I'd always listened to. But for all the new bands and ideas and shows that I saw the Ramones were my #1!!!
So in 1989 (9 years later!!) when a friend called to tell me the Ramones were auditioning bass players, I had to go. I figured it'd be a neat story to tell my grandkids about the day I played with the Ramones. Soon as I hung up with that guy, I threw my bass in my pickup and pointed it west towards NYC. An hour and a half later I walked through the doors of SIR studios on 25th St. I was the first one there. After a brief conversation with Monte Melnick (the tour manager) I was called in. I felt like I was going to meet Elvis! Stepped through the door and there was Johnny, with his back to me fiddling with his amp. I walked right up to him and shook his hand while introducing myself. No stuttering or sweaty palms or nothing. I then did the same with Mark. Suddenly I realized Joey wasn't there. Damn!, I thought. My one chance to meet him and he ain't here!!! Johnny asked what songs I knew and we went right into "Sedated". I played it better than I expected. When we finished the song, Johnny asked a couple questions and we played it (Sedated) again. Only this time, halfway through Joey walks in. Well if I'd have died of a brain hemorrhage right then, it wouldn't have mattered! To be in the same room with them was enough. After a short Q & A it was time for the next contestant to try his luck so I got back in my pickup and headed home. Now I figured that'd be the end of the story. However, a week later I got a call from Monte. The Ramones wanted me to come back. Which of course I did. Several times for a month or so. Until the day I got the call from Johnny Ramone himself informing me that it had been decided that I would be the new bassist for the Ramones.
Over the seven years I played with the Ramones, many fans have asked me what it was like. There is only one way to answer that question. Imagine yourself waiting in the wings of the stage while "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" plays over the screams of the crowd. You peek out and your stomach knots with anticipation. You're just about to step out on the stage when Johnny Ramone turns to you and says "Have a good show tonight."