CLICK ON THE PHOTOS
JOHNNY RAMONE MONUMENT CEROMONY 2005-01-14 HOLLYWOOD, CA
I received information after Johnny passed away that there would be a public memorial for him. A few months later on January 14, 2005 it became reality and a huge event. I know that this was going to be something very special and that I needed to be prepared.
My beautiful wife Yoly, brother Javier and I arrived at the cemetery at 1:30 PM. It is a very beautiful and sunny day, just perfect to shine on Johnny's monument. We arrived at the ceremony area and we were one of the first one's there. The area was set up with chairs on each side and in front of a pond. There was a podium facing the pond and in the background was a giant banner that said "JOHNNY RAMONE 1948 - 2004" with the Ramones logo in the middle. There were two big PA speakers playing Ramones music. The chairs in front of the pond were reserved for friends and family. The chairs on the sides of the pond were reserved for more friends and media. Us fans were behind a roped area in the general public area. The whole setting was very nice. Behind the banner was the VIP area for family and friends. You needed VIP passes for the VIP seating and the VIP area.
I saw Arturo Vega walking around making sure that everything was go well. I went up to him and said hello and introduced him to my wife and brother. I had previously emailed Arturo telling him that we were planning to take a lot of digital photos of the event. I also asked him if he would be interested in getting copies of these photos to post on his website www.officialramones.com. He said yes. Therefore, I told him that we were ready to take a lot of photos. Arturo was very busy at that moment and could not speak too long.
We walked over to visit Dee Dee Ramone, his cemetery plot is not too far from the ceremony area. We were there for a while taking photos and just visiting an old friend. It is always great to visit Dee Dee.
After visiting Dee Dee, we walked back to the ceremony area and waited we took a few photos of the seating area. We saw Arturo Vega again, and I asked if we could take photos with him and as always, he was cool about. He was always full of surprises, as you will soon read.
As we waited under the hot sun, we saw a car heading towards the VIP area. Out came Tommy Ramone and CJ Ramone. I was not aware that they were going to attend. It was amazing to see two of my heroes walking so close me. CJ was about 30 feet in front of us. After CJ spoke to some people that greeted him, I softly asked from a distance if he would sign an autograph. He asked me to hold on a second, he went back to the VIP area for a minute or so. All of a sudden, here comes CJ Ramone towards us. He came up to me and introduced myself. I asked if he could sign a few items. I handed him a 7" Los Gusanos-Quick To Cut single and the 30th Anniversary Party program for him to sign. I also took a few photos with him, as well as my brother did. He was very polite and happy to sign and talk to us. I could not believe that that I had just met CJ Ramone again. I had met him back in 1994 and 1995 and he was also very nice. There were people close to us but none of them noticed CJ with his cap on.
More and more people were gathering at the ceremony area. There must of been about 100 people in the general public area. It was a hot day and we were under a tree far from the standing are. This was worrying us a little because of the photo opportunities. As we waited, Arturo Vega came up to me and said "here are three VIP passes..why don't you three go sit in the 2nd row of the media chairs and take some good photos". We were not expecting this and we thanked him so much for granting us with the VIP passes. It was an odd feeling to bypass all of the fans. Usually people like to show off that they have VIP passes. I can honestly say that I felt humble and thankful for being able to have the pass. So now we were sitting in the 2nd row on the left hand side facing the podium. We were sitting just about 10 feet away from where the family and friends were going to be seated. The section we sat in had labels on the seats that had different media representatives. We sat next to MTV and Guitar World magazine. It was now about 2:20 and more and more people were taking their seats and the gathering of fans was very big. An employee of Hollywood Forever Cemetery was handing out water bottles in the VIP area. He came towards us and handed us bottles. We took a look at the bottles and noticed that they had a Johnny Ramone photo and the date of the ceremony. As thirsty as I was, I wanted to preserve the bottle to put it in my Ramones collection. It felt like every other minute I was thinking of how fortunate we were to be sitting in this area.
As we sat and waited, we saw the arrivals of Rob Zombie, Anthony Kiedis, Chad Smith and others. As great as it was to see them, I was waiting for Linda Ramone's arrival. After a long wait we saw Linda arrive in true rock 'n roll fashion. She was wearing a white go-go girl outfit. She was greeted by many family and friends. As the greetings continued, the chairs were getting filled and the start of the ceremony was getting near.
It was now about 3:30 and the music was fading out. The ceremony was starting. The procession of family and friends was coming down the stairs behind the podium. The procession included Tommy Ramone, CJ Ramone, Eddie Vedder, John Frusciante, Pete Yorn, Rob Zombie, Nicholas Cage, Rick Rubens, Seymour Stein, Vincent Gallo, Lisa Marie and Priscilla Presley (I am a huge, huge Elvis fan), Linda Ramone and others. They all sat about 10 feet away from us.
The ceremony started with an opening speech by Tyler Cassidy, President of Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Here are the excerpts from all the speeches:
It was a short welcoming speech and he explained how the event came about. He also spoke about the statue artist and the cost of it.
Seymour Stein - "Johnny was the rock and strength of the band. He never lost his passion".
Tommy Ramone - "He was fantastic, he was magnificent. He was the most competitive person I had ever met, it was his competitiveness that helped repel the Ramones to greatness".
CJ Ramone - "Ive had a lot of role models and mentors in my time but Johnny was definitely the guy that influenced me the most. I cant put into words how much his friendship meansandI think the best way for me to honorhim is to just try to take what he taught me and use it in my everyday life. HAIL JOHNNY"!
Pete Yorn - "Johnny taught me about honesty... Johnny always called it as he saw it".
Nicolas Cage - "The first step to being free is not caring what others think about you...Johnny Ramone was free".
John Frusciante - "I learned from him to see through the masks that people call their personalities and see them for who they are inside, and inside Johnny Ramone had an immense heart and was as sweet and kind as a person can be".
Rob Zombie - "I don't know what to say when you lose your best friend....Nothing you can say".
Eddie Vedder - "I really honestly can't imagine who I would be today. What my personal make-up would be, if it weren't for the relationship I had with John".
Vincent Gallo - "I don't know of what good things I can say about Johnny Ramone, that he has not already said to me everyday".
At the end of Vincent's speech he said that Linda would lead us all to the statue. It was a rush, almost a race to get to the statue. There was a rope that separated the general public/media from the family and friends. Our VIP passes did not grant us access to the special area. It was difficult to view the statue due to all of the media pushing their way through. It was now time to unveil the statue. Linda grabbed the ends of the black fabric that covered the statue and pulled it off. Everyone began to applaud. It was such a great feeling to see the unveiling. There were so many photos being taken. It was special to see Linda standing next to Johnny. All the family and friends gathered in front of the statue facing the media. It was a nice photo opportunity. Then they all viewed and read the inscriptions for a while.
I noticed Tommy Ramone a few feet away from me. I politely called out his name and asked him if he would mind signing an autograph. He agreed and came over to sign my 30th Anniversary Party program. At the same time I was bold enough to ask him for a photo with him. I have found it hard to get a hold of Tommy. At the 30th Anniversary Party I asked him twice for an autograph and he decline. I understand, Tommy does not feel too comfortable being with so many people around him. I could not believe that I had just met Tommy Ramone. It was so exciting.
A few minutes after I met Tommy, the general public and media were allowed to view the statue. There was so many people trying to get photos with the statue. After a while I had to jump in and stand next to the statue and had photos taken. The statue is very well made and beautiful. It really makes Johnny shine even more than he ever did. It is very tall and has inscriptions from many of his friends. It is definitely something that all of us can cherish.
I had written a letter for Linda and I gave it to here assistant. I hope that Linda received it. Who knows?
We were all now with Johnny's family and friends. I noticed that CJ Ramone was in the back signing a few autographs. So we went up to him and he signed many more autographs for me. I also took a few photos of him and one with him. During that time Tommy came to CJ and told him that it was almost time to leave. CJ was very nice and polite to for us again. I had mentioned to him that I really liked his speech. I told him that it was really heartfelt. He looked at me and thank me. I could tell that he felt good about the comment. I also asked him about him touring in the West Coast and he said that he is a full time dad and that he does not have time to tour. I thanked him for the autographs and photos.
We saw Tommy signing autographs and we went to him again. He signed and took photos with us. He signed my Swallow My Pride 7". I did not want to bother Tommy too much and we thanked him and left him with other fans.
As we left Tommy we saw Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. We went up to him and asked if we could take photos with him. He was very nice to meet.
I then heard my name being called out. It was Arturo Vega, he asked if I could take photos of him working. Arturo and his assistant were taking down the Johnny Ramone banner behind the podium. We took many photos of him working and with the banner. I asked if I could take a photo with the banner and he agreed.
After taking photos of Arturo Vega, we saw CJ again. I still had a few things to get autographed. He signed my Rock 'N Roll Radio 7" and my Ramones shirt. He was very nice about signing so many autographs for us.
It was getting late and we went back to Johnny and took a few more photos with him. Then we started heading out of the cemetery and stopped to say goodnight to Dee Dee.
Our last photos of the night were taken in front of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery sign.
I would like to thank Arturo Vega for his generosity for giving us those great VIP passes. It was an unforgettable event and we feel so humble and honored for being part of it. We took 225 photos on two digital cameras and I donated them to Arturo's website and Jari-Pekka's website and future book. I also had one of my photos in a newspaper and website from Argentina.
I hope everyone enjoys my review and my photos. Please feel free to send me your thoughts on my review and photos. Contact Me
"If a man can judge success by how many great friends he has, then I have been very successful."
- Johnny Ramone