My nights playing glam rock records with Joey Ramone

Musician Edward Rogers struck up a friendship with the Ramones frontman in the lift of a New York apartment building

It was 1974 and I had a full-time job. On the side I was the drummer in a Blondie-type band, one of about a million in New York at the time. I first saw the Ramones on a bill with Robert Gordon and Blondie, at a place where for a dollar you got entry and all the beer you could drink. At first I didn’t get it at all. I was thinking, “It’s too loud, and too fast, and why do you have a singer who looks like that?” It was obvious to me that Johnny should have been the singer. Joey was very tall and because of that he would cling on to the microphone like he was going to fall over.

Then I saw them a second time, at CBGB. It set something off in my brain and I thought, “This is the music of the future.” I sold all my prog records and got a haircut.

Many years later, my wife and I were trying to get into a co-op apartment in the East Village of New York and went to be interviewed by the board. These people were much older than us and really snobby, and we were very nervous because we really wanted the apartment. The lift stopped at the 10th floor and in came Joey Ramone. He explained that he owned three apartments there. I thought, “If Joey Ramone can live here, maybe we have a shot.”

We really bonded over a story I told him about when I arrived in New York. I’d been working as a delivery boy for a pharmacy, and one day I went to this smart brownstone and Chas Chandler [Jimi Hendrix’s manager] opened the door. The next day I went again and this unbelievable blonde opened the door. Then the third time Jimi Hendrix answered the door. When the pharmacy checked the prescription it was for 500 amphetamines every day. He was stocking up for the tour.

Joey was hysterical when I told him. “Do you realise what that means?” he said. “You could have personally busted Jimi Hendrix!”

After that we hung out quite a lot. He had a deal with his neighbours, who were illegally keeping dogs, that he could play his music loud until midnight. When I left it felt like my ears were bleeding. He was a huge fan of glam rock, especially Slade. His ambition was to bring Slade to play at Irving Plaza, even if he had to open for them.

He was notoriously late so you’d often see the rest of the band waiting in the car outside for Joey to come down. Then when he got cancer he spent a lot of time in the building because he wasn’t touring any more. He knew all the elderly ladies in the lobby by name and would spend time with all of them. He’d always stop in the street to talk to people, and at Christmas would bring us presents. He was such a gentle soul. If he was still alive he would be amazed at the effect of the Ramones’ legacy.

Edward Rogers’s new album Glass Marbles is out in the UK on 2 September on Zip Records (

Edward Rogers

The GuardianTramp

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