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Wales Online [En]: The Ramones’ love for a cult Swansea band


The Ramones’ love for a cult Swansea band

Joey Ramone with Helen Love (back, centre) and band















They were the godfathers of US punk, whose three-chord, two-minute thrash-alongs were synonymous with the rough and ready New York City streets which spawned them.

But, 40 years on from The Ramones’ very first gig, the lead singer of a cult Swansea band has recalled how the ripped denim-wearing rock legends bizarrely became their biggest fans, took them under their wing and even invited them to hang out in the Big Apple.

In fact, so enamoured were they with their new-found Welsh friends that even a superstar like Bob Dylan ended up getting left out in the cold.

“We made a record in 1993 called Joey Ramoney, all about the man who led the Ramones,” said Helen Love, whose eponymously-named group was a huge favourite of late DJ John Peel.

“It only came out on a little indie record label but it did okay, with the likes of Steve Lamacq and Mark Radcliffe playing it on Radio One.

“We end up selling all the copies we’d pressed and thought that was that.

“But, one evening later that year, the phone rings, it was Joey Ramone – I couldn’t believe it,” she laughed, adding that the song had been brought to the attention of the six and a half foot tall singer by the UK branch of the Ramones fan club.

“He said, ‘Hey Helen, love the record, come to New York and play – you can all stay with me.”

And one month later Helen and her band mates found themselves in Joey’s NYC apartment – but, despite arriving on the Sunday, they didn’t actually get to meet their host until four days later.

“Even though we were under the same roof he was too shy to approach us and kept asking the girl from the fan club, ‘What are they like? Should I say hello’,” she smiled.

“Then, the day before we were due to play a show, he books us a rehearsal room in a scary looking part of town – I was waiting for Kojak to appear around the corner and gunfire to start at any moment.

“It was this amazing studio, with a built in stage, wall to wall mirrors and huge PA, and we ended up running over our allotted time by 10 minutes.

“Then, as we were leaving we saw Bob Dylan pacing around outside waiting to go in next.

“We told him we’d come from Swansea and live next door to Dylan Thomas’ house, but he wasn’t interested.

“Honestly, I don’t know what stroke Joey pulled to get us in such a place, or who picked up the bill for that matter – we just said ‘Joey Ramone sent us’ and walked out the door.”

She added that she’d never forget the time she spent with Ramones frontman, who died in 2001 after a long battle with lymphoma.

“We’d mooch around Greenwich Village with him on those boiling hot summer evenings and everyone passing by would shout, ‘Hey Joey, how you doing” – he’d just smile and wave,” she said.

“A few years later Joey duetted with me on our song Punk Boy, and shortly before he died I sang on the track Mr Punchy from his solo album Don’t Worry About Me.

“I knew he was ill back then, but thought everything was under control.

“But he suffered a bad fall in the snow outside his apartment and never made it back out of the hospital.”

And, four decades on from their first clarion cry of “Hey-ho, let’s go,” the “bruthas” – as they became known – are still as influential as ever in inspiring new generations of teenagers to pick up a guitar and form a band.

“The Ramones were the greatest group in the world, they were The Bay City Rollers, The Beach Boys and The Who all rolled up into one magic pop explosion,” said Helen.

“And the fact Joey took such time and trouble over our little band just shows what a cool and generous guy he was,” she added.











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