Johnny Ramone, the lead guitarist with punk icons the Ramones, died on Wednesday after a five-year battle with prostate cancer.
Johnny – born John Cummings – died in his sleep at 55 years of age, with wife, Linda, as well as friends Eddie Vedder, John Frusciante, Rob Zombie and others at his bedside. He will be cremated today in a private ceremony, and plans for a public vigil as well as the unveiling of a statue are being made.
Too sick to attend last weekend’s Los Angeles concert commemmorating the Ramones’ 30th Anniversary, Johnny spoke to fans via phone. Ramones singer Joey Ramone – born Douglas Hyman, and bassist Dee Dee Ramone – born Douglas Colvin, died of cancer and a drug overdose, respectively, over the past three years.
Following is a statement from the Ramones’ Web site, OfficialRamones.com, which also includes a touching piece written by Steve Miller, and will likely post additional tribute information in the near future:
Our dear friend Johnny has died. May he rest in peace.
Johnny passed away on Wednesday, September 15 at 3:03 pm at his home in Los Angeles, California.
We are immensely saddened by this terrible loss. Johnny contributed in many ways to the success and greatness of the Ramones. But it was his strength and guidance, which made everybody else’s work come to an effective completion, that made him the group’s center of gravity, providing the balance and stability that kept the band, its support crew, and the entire Ramones organization together and in rocking shape. Johnny’s strength came from his character, rich in decency and honesty. His sense of fairness and his strategies always pointed towards the benefit of the Ramones and their fans as an inseparable unit.
In this moment of tragedy and darkness, let us find solace, and a cure to our pain, in the knowledge that Johnny accomplished to the limit his life’s aspirations, and in the process he made ours seem possible.
HAIL! JOHNNY RAMONE
[Credit: Reuters, OfficialRamones.com]