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Last Updated: Friday, 17 September, 2004, 10:50 GMT 11:50 UK
Punk guitarist Johnny Ramone dies
Johnny Ramone
Johnny Ramone had battled cancer for five years
Johnny Ramone, guitarist in punk band The Ramones, has died at the age of 55 following a long fight against cancer.

He passed away at his Los Angeles home on Wednesday, surrounded by friends and family, said the band's artistic director Arturo Vega.

Johnny Ramone, real name John Cummings, battled prostate cancer for five years.

A public tribute is being organised and he will be cremated on Thursday at a private service. The Ramones were one of the most influential bands in rock.

Johnny Ramone is the third member of the band to die in the past few years, leaving Tommy Ramone as the only surviving member of the original line-up.

Singer Joey Ramone, whose original name was Jeff Hyman, died in 2001 from lymphatic cancer.

Bass player Dee Dee Ramone, real name Douglas Colvin, died of a drug overdose the following year.

The Ramones

Vega, who worked with the band for 30 years, paid tribute to Johnny's devotion to the band. "He was the guy with a strategy," he said.

"He was the guy who not only looked after the band's interest but he also was their defender."

News of Johnny's cancer fight emerged in June when he was admitted to the Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles for an infection related to the illness.

There was optimism that he would recover after beginning an experimental therapy treatment. But he died in his sleep on Wednesday afternoon.

Among those at his bedside were his wife Linda Cummings and friends Eddie and Jill Vedder and Rob and Sherrie Zombie.

Also there for his final moments were Lisa Marie Presley, actress Talia Shire, director Vincent Gallo and musician Pete Yorn.

A cancer research fundraising event was held on Sunday to mark The Ramones' 30th anniversary, with performances from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Henry Rollins.

Writing memoirs

During the gig, a letter written by Johnny was read to the crowd by host Rob Zombie, who then telephoned him at his home live on stage.

Johnny had been working on his memoirs with the help of Washington Post reporter Steve Miller, telling of his experiences being in one of history's most influential rock bands.

"The Ramones never ever lost their image, their aura of being the ultimate underdog, the voice of the angry young man," said Vega.

The Ramones, who had hits with Sheena is a Punk Rocker and Baby I Love You, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.

The band formed in 1974, with all the members taking the Ramone surname, quickly building up a cult following.

Although they were never commercially successful, their unique sound helped shape rock music and are often cited as inspirations to new generations of musicians.

"The Ramones had it rough," said Vega. "The band almost had to be protected from people who were taking advantage of them. There was never any money made."

BBC News Online users sent us their tributes to Johnny Ramone.

Johnny blew my mind. The Ramones were the reason I got into playing music. He gave me direction and helped me focus on what really mattered. The music man, the music.
Johnny Reznik- Goo Goo Dolls, Buffalo, NY

I will never forget the way the music of the Ramones influenced me in my late teens and early twenties. I didn't go to the barber for about 5 years and wore ripped jeans all the time. I found it strangely difficult to meet girls at that time, but I really enjoyed my LP collection! I remember vividly a Ramones concert I attended at the Brixton Academy in London in 1988, it was the most exciting performance I had ever seen. There will always be a place in my heart for Joey, Johnny, Tommy and DeeDee. Sorry to see you go, Johhny.
Graham Pulford, Sydney

Hey ho... say it ain't so. Johnny, like Joey and Dee Dee before you... you will be missed and remembered for what you are- a real rock and roll legend.
Rod Dovlin, Los Angeles CA, USA

Over ten years ago I had the pleasure of shaking hands hands with Johnny Ramone after their last show ever in Montreal. Great guy, Johnny... he always had time to talk to fans. We'll miss you GGH!
Stephanie Doyle, Montreal, Canada

When they sang about the 'End of the Century', I had no idea that most of them would be gone in the new years of the next one. Peaceful thoughts to Johnny's mom & Linda, to Tommy & to Marky & Richie & Arturo & everyone who loved him. Rest well, Johnny. Gabba gabba hey.
Apryl Lightcap, Roxburg, NJ, USA

The Ramones were part of my teenage life - I have a band in Hong Kong and next time we jam we're going to play 'Baby I love you' in honour of Johnny. What a classic. 1,2,3,4.....
Paul Carter, Hong Kong

I saw the Ramones on their last tour through Iowa (on Lollapalooza) in '96 and they were phenomenonal. Some day I'll bet my kids will ask me what they were like live.
Dimitrije Kostic, College Station, TX, USA

Bye bye Johnny, the best punk guitarrist in the world of rockers. It is a sad day for everybody which enjoyed your music. Now, rest in peace with the guitar in your heart, the aura of The Ramones will never die...
Vicente Torres, Santiago, Chile

The ramones were THE punk band, loud and fast yet smart enough to be tuneful. I am of the opinion that their first album is the best rock 'n' roll record ever made. Thanks Johnny for all the times your music gave me a buzz that none other could.
Owen, Portsmouth, England

A great musician, true to his beat... Johnny, now you can "rock in peace" with Joe Strummer, Johnny Thunders, Sid Vicious, and the other Ramones.
Sabrina DeBord, London, England.

What a band ! Can't believe they're all now gone. I grew up with their music , and was fortunate to see them live many times and meet them backstage . The Ramones were perhaps the most criminally underrated band ever , and true stars like Johnny , Joey and Dee Dee will remain perpetual rock icons . I'm listening to Bltzkrieg Bop right now and it still sounds as fresh and frenetic as when I first heard it nearly 30 years ago . Bye Bye Johnny- you were a good mate.
Gerard Wilkie, West Lothian , Scotland

In the late 70s I was living on East 11th St. and Johnny was living on East 10th. I used to see him all the time and he was never not in full Ramones kit. I admired the hell out of that. He was pure NY! Rest in peace Bruder! JM
Jim McCarthy, New York, NY U.S.A.

I'm really sad today. Joey, Dee Dee and now Johnny have gone. The Ramones will always be one of my favourite bands. The songs were classics. The film "Rock n Roll High School" always makes me laugh with the fantasy scene where the Ramones appear in Riff Randle's bedroom. Johnny rolls his eyes and looks away at one point while Joey "sings" as he was probably trying not to laugh. I shall be listening to the Ramones tonight.
Lesley, London, UK

I saw the Ramones in '81 or '82. During one song I was screaming at Johnny to give me his pick. As the song ended and the last chord was ringing out he leaned over from the stage into the pit and jammed his pick into may outstretched hand. It was a giant heavy gauge bass pick with "Ramones" etched in it. I used that pick for years after. RIP Johnny.
Greg Remillard, New York, NY

Very sad news today about Johnny. I saw the Ramones several times in the early 80's, and have been a huge fan since. Johnny Ramone and his Mosrite are the way a guitar should sound! Thanks for the great times, you'll be greatly missed.
Scott Petrasek, Montgomery Village, Maryland, USA

Every time a musician passes away, even a part of us flyes away with him. Ciao Johnny!
Simon, Monza, Italy

R.I.P. Johnny, my "brudder"! Saw you for the first time at age 12, and never turned back. I'll miss you with Joey and Dee Dee. Remember we played pinball at St. Marks and 2nd Ave. at the deli!! Mr Supersonic Wrist, how the hell did you play like that, man? I was always amazed. Thanks for signing my Mickey Mouse shirt backstage. I hid in an amplifier road case until the time was right, and you and the others were totally cool about that. Thanks for letting me hang backstage! I'll miss you, man! :( :(
Joey1234, New Jersey, USA

At our wedding last year we had the Ramones version of Baby I Love You for our first dance. I originally wanted Blizkrieg Bop but my wife overruled me - anyway it sure beat the hell out of Wonderful Tonight.
Antaine, Ireland

Another dead Ramone, me and mine will all have a day of mourning at our diffrent works, and I swear by hook or by crook I will find a way to fill the void you fine souls have left for us. Ps. I found a guitar on the corner of 8th and 1st Av. once I've fixed it I'm naming it Johnny for you.
Big Dave, Brooklyn

Saw the Ramones in '78 live at Newcastle City Hall and it remains to this day the best concert I have ever been to.Together with Joey and Dee Dee,Johnny Ramones death is an absolutely massive loss to rock music.Myself and all the other Ramones fans will make sure your music is never forgotten,keep rocking in heaven guys.Gabba Gabba Hey.
Robert , Dumfries,Scotland

Another one gone! How sad. I remember going to see the Ramones 3 nights in a row at Brixton Academy when I was about 15, I'll never forget how cool they looked on stage. A great band who helped me get though me Convent school days....
Loz, Wimbledon

We'll remember you, Johnny. God bless you.
Jorge, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Rest in Peace Johnny. I loved the Ramones from the mid-70's. Also a favorite is Rock and Roll High School. Your band is an inspiration and the music will live on. May you be rockin and rolling forever in heaven. Peace be with you.
Ralph Preedy, Hoboken, NJ USA

When he was asked why the Ramones songs were so short, Johnny replied that they weren't short, just played damn fast. That sums up the Ramones and Johnny. I saw them live almost 30 times and each gig remains a highlight of my life. The best band and greatest guitarist of all time. And he died on my birthday. Long live the Ramones, and RIP Johhny. Their music will be a part of many peoples lives for years to come. A sad, sad day.
PT, Bishop Auckland, UK

I discovered the Ramones at the age of 6, and now 9 years later i am nearly 16 and love them more than ever. I loved each member as if I knew them, and I started to cry in the middle of the cantene, when my mum rang my phone and told me the news. Bye Johnny, and thanx for the music, and thanx for making my childhood what is was. Rest in peace Johnny. My thoughts are with you as they are with Joey and Dee Dee. Gabba Gabba Hey

4,5,6,7 all good cretins go to heaven. Thanks Johnny
Marc Gunby, London

Ramones visited Argentina so many times in the 90s that I could not remember all the shows I have seen of them... all I can say is WHAT A ROCK AND ROLL BAND!!!!!
Esteban, Buenos Aires / Argentina

You've parted us, Daddy-o and joined the punk band of the century in heaven. The Ramones have saved me during my treacherous teenage days, and if it wasn't for the Ramones blasting thru my headphones to tune out the chaos that surrounded me, I would not be here. Thanks alot and may you rest in peace. Say hello to Dee Dee and Joey for me.
June Makita, Los Angeles, California

Gutted to hear the news, they were/are a major influence for many new bands. In many ways they fuelled the punk movement just as much as the Sex Pistols. The music lives on. Here's to you Johnny.
Richard, Coventry, West Mids, UK

A very sad day. I saw them once in my days at Leeds University in the mid 70s. Still remember the sound, energy and performance from a great band.
Stephen Smith, Johannesburg South Africa

The best band I ever saw live. Ever. Johnny was reputed to be the dislikeable one, the bully, the tough nut. It is also fair to say that without Johnny's discipline and will of iron that the band would have fizzled out early on in their career. Alongside Joey, Dee Dee and Joe Strummer, this is another terrible loss amongst the purveyors of the most important music between the Beatles and now. Rest in peace John, and thanks.
Brendon Parsons, Blackpool, England

Another sad day. One of the most unique, influential bands of the our time will always be remembered by me as one of the best live bands I've seen.
Liza Buddy, London

Cheers for the great times I had as a teenager dancing to your music. You will be missed
Guy, Liverpool

OK so maybe Johnny, Dee Dee and Joey had nothing to say, but they were still relevant and said it in a way that excited, energised and was fun. I was one of the people who listened then and still listens now. If "It's Alive" isn't the best live album of all time bar none I'll eat my ripped jeans and battered sneakers and for afters scoff my bike jacket. The way Johnny's Mosrite rips the intro to "California Sun," still makes me smile. Thanks Johnny. See y'all later.
Mike Boyle, Forfar, Scotland

I'm only 17, but The Ramones were the first band I remember hearing because my dad is a huge fan, and I was soon hooked. When I was 12/13, most girls my age were listening to Backstreet Boys, but not me; punk soon became my life. I'm a guitarist in my own punk band, and Johnny is my idol, the one I aspire to. I know I could never be as good a guitarist as him, but he inspires me to be the best I can be. R.I.P Johnny and thank you for being my inspiration.
Rosy, Leeds, England

"Halo round my head too tough to die" - you will be missed. .
Jim Nadeau, Holyke, MA. USA

Rock on, Johnny.
Munzar Sharif, UK

The coolest guitarist ever. Rest in Peace. Ramones forever!
Anke, Herford, Germany

When I was thirteen I used to play the Ramones first album with one of the speakers unplugged so all you heard were the bass, vocals and drums coming out the remaining one. That way I could play my guitar over it and pretend I was Johnny Ramone. I picked up a guitar for the very first time because of you Johnny, and you'll be missed a lot. Adios Amigo
Colin Morrison, Abbotsford, BC, Canada

The Ramones are a massive influence in my band, we were all distraught to hear about Joey and Dee Dee. I woke up this morning to be told about Johnny... we have a gig coming up next week, it's supposed to be for my birthday but the set will be in memory of Johnny.... a legend
Martyn Cain, guitarist in Uncle Nevis, Douglas, ISLE of MAN

A very sad day for anyone that has played punk guitar, Johnny's style was an inspiration to me. He will be sorely missed.
James, Surrey

The Ramones in Albany NY in 1984 taught me how one hard-rocking concert can lift and liberate. They rocked!
Geoff, London UK

After the loss of our beloved Joey and Dee-Dee, now Johnny is gone. Seems like The Ramones are going to be re-formed in heaven........ The Ramones family is falling apart but fortunately we, the loyal fans of the biggest Rock n' Roll band ever, shall keep the Ramones flag high. Rest in Peace Johnny and greetings to Joey and Dee-Dee
Alexander Giannoulakis, Athens, Greece

I have fond memories of seeing the Ramones in concert at the Top Rank Sheffield, UK, on 2 March 1980. They absolutely rocked! The Ramones deserve much more credit for their music than they have been given. Rest in Peace Johnny, Joey and Dee Dee.
Mark Beech, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Johnny Ramone was one quarter of one of the finest, influential and innovative bands the world has ever seen. Many modern bands can trace their musical style back to the Ramones, and they owe a debt of gratitude to Johnny, Joey, Dee Dee, Marky, Tommy and CJ. It's about time they got some real radio play, and show the modern bands what it means to really believe in what you are doing, not just churning out formulaic rubbish for the charts and the bank accounts! Gabba Gabba Hey, Too Tough To Die....
Adam, Portsmouth, UK

A damn shame. At least his family can take heart in his legacy.
Paul, York, UK

Johnny was such a great guitarist and such a part of my youth. What a shame he died like this. Makes you realise that life is really as short as a two-minute Ramones song.
Paul Fillingham, Nottingham UK

In the face of the seventies bloated rock and roll mid-life crisis, the roar of Johnny Ramone's guitar was a clarion call to kids everywhere to think differently. Joey was the voice of the Ramones, Dee Dee was its heart but Johnny was the engine that made them go and the glue that kept them together.
Mark Zoltak, Hoboken, USA

I saw this band many times and they never let you down, the energy in their songs was incredible. Their music set a standard that many bands now struggle to compete with. I met Johnny and the band at a wild party in Edinburgh in 1978, every one of them had time to chat, they have deserved all the success and plaudits given to them. Rest In Peace Johnny Ramone.
Barrie Millar, Edinburgh - Scotland.

Thanks, Johnny. I saw the Ramones at the Ulster Hall Belfast in 1978, and to this day, it remains the most exciting gig I have ever been at. Johnny kept throwing plectrums into the crowd, and I was lucky enough to catch one - and I've treasured it as a souvenir since, along with my memories of the best American band of ALL TIME. God bless you Johnny, and thank you for all the good music you gave to so many people.
Jim McCool, Woking, UK

I grew up just outside New York City in the seventies, and was lucky enough to see & hear the Ramones back then. Now, many many years later, my 6-year old son Sam, a budding rock drummer, is a huge Ramones fan. His first grade teacher is less than thrilled that he sings "I Wanna Be Sedated" during class, but that's another issue. The Ramones truly transcend generations, and are sorely missed. Johnny was a hoot in "Rock & Roll High School" and we are sorry to see him go.
Sam & Lauren Works, Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States

Never mind being one of the first and defining punk bands, The Ramones were simply one of the greatest rock n' roll bands of all time. This is a sad day for music. Heartfelt commiserations to Johnny's family and friends.
Russell, Bristol, UK

A sad loss to music. The Ramones have had a very strong influence on how music has progressed during the last decades. Highlights for me will always be their rendition of the Phil Spector classic 'Baby I love You' and 'Sheena is a Punk Rocker'. Like the rest of the band, Johnny kept his guitar style simple but effective .
Gary Callon, Arbroath, Scotland

Johnny was truly a gentleman punk. An original. I am greatly saddened for myself and generations of kids who will never get to see or hear him play in person. But what a life. What a precious life!
Richard A. Deeb, Pasadena, California

Now that is sad. After all it was Johnny who was really responsible for their unique sound. He'll never be forgotten Cheers mate and RIP
Roger Nicholson, Barcelona, Catalonia

Danny says we gotta go
Gotta go to Idaho
But we can't go surfin' cos it's 20 below

Bye Johnny Gabba gabba hey...
Adrian Bloxham, Coventry, UK

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