Gaston Sanchez remembers the unveiling of Johnny Ramone's statue at Hollywood Forever

January 14, 2005, a memorable and perfect day for the unveiling of the Johnny Ramone monument. As a huge Ramones fan, I had to make sure my family and I attended the event and arrive early at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Upon our arrival, I couldn’t believe my eyes, the setup for the event was incredible! There was a great amount of detail put into everything, from the giant banner that read “JOHNNY RAMONE 1948-2004” to the two big PA speakers playing Ramones music. The Ramones atmosphere and energy was like no other, and the event hadn’t even started!!! 

Arriving early ensured me a spot behind the roped area designated for the general public. Little did I know that I would be pleasantly surprised by Arturo Vega handing me and my family VIP passes. I still could vividly hear Arturo saying “ Here are three VIP passes, go sit in the 2nd row and take some good photos” And for that unbelievable opportunity given to me and my family, I will be forever grateful to Arturo.

As the music faded into the distance, I could see the procession of Johnny’s closest and dearest friends making their way down the stairs behind the podium, the ceremony was about to begin. I immediately spotted Linda Ramone, because in true rock ‘n roll fashion, Linda made her arrival in style to pay homage to her Johnny. Among the guests joining Linda down the stairs were: Tommy Ramone, CJ Ramone, Eddie Vedder, John Frusciante, Pete Yorn, Rob Zombie, Nicholas Cage, Rick Rubin, Seymour Stein, Vincent Gallo, Lisa Marie and Priscilla Presley (I am a huge, huge Elvis fan), and others. They all sat about 10 feet away from us.

Some of the guests were given the opportunity to express their personal experiences they had with Johnny. Hearing all the different speeches made me realize how incredibly loved Johnny was Then and Now. The speeches that are still ingrained in my mind are:

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 - "I’ve had a lot of role models and mentors in my time but Johnny was definitely the guy that influenced me the most. I can’t put into words how much his friendship means to me and I think the best way for me to honor him 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".

 The ceremony was coming to a close and it was announced that Linda was ready to unveil the monument. The black cloth was slowly removed and with great excitement, you could hear the crowd cheer as their eyes were mesmerized by the immense size and likeness of the Johnny Ramone monument. Fans ran, cameras flashed as everyone wanted to be up close and admire the monument and its inscriptions. My favorite inscription is by Johnny himself.

“If a man can judge success by how many friends he has, then I have been very successful” - Johnny Ramone

 Thank you Linda for the privilege and opportunity to share my story as a fan. This experience is one I will treasure forever. My family and I would like to extend our gratitude to you for always being so kind and welcoming.

Because of your dedication to Johnny and your love for the fans, the legacy continues and we all thank you for that!

Johnny Ramone Forever/Ramones Forever!

Now, I wanna sniff some glue,

Gaston Sanchez

(Click on the photos below to scroll through the gallery.)