Celebrity Deaths ›

Joey Ramone: 5 Songs

Getty Images / Archive Photos / Allan Tannenbaum

Joey Ramone: 5 Songs

Joey Ramone was an icon of American punk, the face and voice of a movement. The frontman for the Ramones took a complete lack of vocal training, mixed it with a unique look and a dash of lazy onstage charisma, and turned generations of kids into punk rockers who wanted to be just like him. Spin magazine named the Ramones one of the greatest rock bands of all time, second only to the Beatles, and their songs were certainly just as catchy as any track Lennon and McCartney wrote. We're listening to five of our favorites to commemorate the anniversary of Joey Ramone's birth May 19, 1951.

1. "Blitzkrieg Bop"

This is where it all began, the first single from the Ramones, released in February 1976. Like most of their songs, it didn't do well on the charts – in fact, it didn't chart at all – but that doesn't mean it hasn't been hugely influential. It's been covered by dozens of other artists, and it's been used everywhere from movies (National Lampoon's Vacation) to commercials (Coppertone, Taco Bell) to video games (Rock Band, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3) to sporting events. We challenge anyone not to feel "all revved up and ready to go" when they hear Joey chant, "Hey, ho, let's go!"

2. "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker"

A year and a half after "Blitzkrieg Bop," the Ramones cracked the Billboard chart for the first time (and one of the only times) with "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker." It was the first song to talk about punk rock as a subculture, and Ramone, who wrote it, explained it this way: "To me 'Sheena' was the first surf/punk rock/teenage rebellion song. I combined Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, with the primalness of punk rock. Then Sheena is brought into the modern day."

3. "Rock 'n' Roll High School"

It's more than a song; it's also the centerpiece of a cult classic movie. Rock 'n' Roll High School, the 1979 film, embodies all the teen rebellion that bands like the Ramones sang and shouted about. The Ramones themselves appeared in the movie, named honorary students of the school that's destroyed in the movie's finale.

4. "Bonzo Goes to Bitburg"

The Ramones' rebellion wasn't all about having some kicks and getting some chicks. When President Ronald Reagan made a high-profile visit to a German cemetery where Nazi soldiers were buried, they responded with a song that expressed their anger and confusion with his decision. Jewish by birth, Joey commented, "We had watched Reagan going to visit the SS cemetery on TV and were disgusted. We're all good Americans, but Reagan's thing was like forgive and forget. How can you forget 6 million people being gassed and roasted?"

5. "What a Wonderful World"

Though most of Joey's singing career was spent heading the Ramones, he did record a couple of solo albums, both released after his 2001 death. The first was Don't Worry About Me, and it included a fantastic cover of Louis Armstrong's signature song. Decades after his career began, Joey sounded as good as ever when he reinterpreted the classic.

Written by Linnea Crowther. Find her on Google+.