For the past 11 years, the date May 12th has held a special place on the punk rock calendar as it marks the annual Joey Ramone Birthday Bash, celebrating the life of beloved icon Joey Ramone, sadly lost to lymphoma. This year sees a particularly exciting addition to the expected festivities in that it will also include a special live performance of the posthumous release of Joey’s much anticipated album …Ya Know? This will be the second of his posthumous releases following 2002’s Don’t Worry About Me recorded just prior to his death and released the following year. The performing band will accumulate some of punk’s most renowned and respected musicians, fronted by Joey’s own brother Mickey Leigh who also served as executive producer on the new release.
Comprised of songs both written and sung by Joey Ramone …Ya Know? was cultivated from various demos and unreleased recordings spanning over half of Joey’s life, now polished and ready to be unleashed to a fan-base ravenous for more material. Mickey Leigh states “It was of the utmost importance to me that these remaining songs of Joey’s be finished properly and made available for the world to hear.” The album is the perfect representation of Joey Ramone and a clear reminder as to exactly why he is such a revered performer, his trademark intensity and wit, forefront throughout. Leigh continues “Over the past eight years I’ve been getting a barrage of emails and Facebook messages from Joey’s fans, wanting to know when this album would be coming out. So having it finally become a reality gives me a feeling of triumph – not for me, but for my brother, and for his fans. And there’s not the slightest doubt in my mind that people are gonna be blown away by it.”
Among the numerous names to whom Leigh and Ramone’s manager, Dave Frey gathered to contribute their talents to the album was veteran producer Ed Statium, who was behind the board for many of the Ramones’ greatest cuts, including their early tracks “Leave Home,” “Rocket To Russia” and “Road To Ruin.” In addition to producing 10 of the CD’s 15 songs, Stasium also provided instrumentation and vocals to each.
Contributing to …ya know? is an amalgamation of musicians and producers whose previous connections with Joey help enhance the natural power and character of the album through an organic creativity that only friends can bring. The cast of players includes Joan Jett, and Little Steven Van Zandt, who plays guitar on “Party Line” and wrote the album’s poignant liner notes, along with such notables as former Ramones drummer Richie Ramone, Bun E. Carlos of Cheap Trick, Dennis Diken of the Smithereens, Richie Stotts, Patti Smith Group guitarist Lenny Kaye, punk survivor Holly Beth Vincent, members of the Ramones’ punk-era contemporaries The Dictators, and producers Jean Beauvoir and Joe Blaney.
This year’s Bash will be held in a new venue – the Studio @ Webster Hall – to allow for a more intimate setting in which to introduce the previously unheard songs. The $40 ticket price allows not only entry to what can only be described as the punk rock event of the year, but also some incredible swag including an advance copy of the CD signed by various musicians in attendance, and the official 2012 Birthday Bash t-shirt, not available anywhere else. As usual all proceeds from the Bash go to benefit the Joey Ramone Foundation for Lymphoma Research.