New Ramones Mural Painted In Forest Hills

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The spirit of the Ramones was alive again this past weekend, as nearly 100 fans gathered for a mural unveiling dedicated to the legendary punk band from Forest Hills at the Thorneycroft Ramp.

The event also included a tour of the Queens Museum exhibition “Hey Ho! Let’s Go: Ramones and the Birth of Punk” (open through July 31) and a bus tour led by Forest Hills High School graduate Richard Adler that stopped at several noteworthy Ramones sites, such as the Howard Apartments and Birchwood Towers.

The mural, located just north of 99th Street between 66th Road and 66th Avenue, was painted by Lower East Side artist Ori Carino. Based on a photo by Bob Gruen, it features the Ramones sitting atop the same wooden fence on the ramp with a backdrop of the windows of the Thorneycroft apartments, now known as Fanwood Estates.

The Ramones emerged from Forest Hills and debuted at the iconic Manhattan venue CBGB in August 1974. Original members consisted of drummer Tommy Ramone (1952–2014), guitarist Johnny Ramone (1948–2004), lead singer Joey Ramone (1951–2001), and bassist and songwriter Dee Dee Ramone (1951–2002).

The Forest Hills High School graduates could often be spotted at popular hangouts like Wetson’s for burgers, Jahn’s for ice cream, or a billiard hall known as the Cue Club.

The ceremony’s special guests included Carino, Fanwood property manager Drew Goldberg, Queens Museum co-curator Marc H. Miller, Joey Ramone’s brother Mickey Leigh, and Ira Nagel, a Ramones bassist.

As the tarp covering the mural was removed, fans shouted “Hey Ho! Let’s Go!” in unison with Leigh as residents watched from their windows.

“I never thought that I would see my brother and my friends on a wall of the ramp,” said Leigh. “There’s been lots of things celebrating the Ramones, but for me this is the closest to heart.”

The Queens Museum’s goal with its exhibition was to honor the Ramones in memorable ways.

“We hoped to have a street near Forest Hills High School named after them, but this proved challenging within our timeframe,” said Miller. “It is usually difficult to get property owners to approve murals, but since the property manager once knew Joey Ramone he was able to expedite the process.”

The mural is already having an impact, according to Miller’s discussions with the artist.

“While painting, old-time residents reminisced about the Ramones and explained who they were to newcomers, mostly from Eastern Europe,” he said.

Goldberg, whose family purchased Thorneycroft in 1957, first met Joey in 1998, and for three years they managed the band The Independents.

“The Ramones have their place in rock-and-roll history and Queens has its place in the Ramones history, so the fact that our property can be a part of both is an incredible honor for us,” he said.

Wayne Brown recalled a Battle of the Bands at Forest Hills High School in the mid-1960s.

“Johnny and I rehearsed in the basement of my grandma’s house at 96-22 67th Avenue,” he said. “We performed songs by The Byrds and The Zombies, we wore Beatles boots and I wore Roger McGuinn sunglasses. Johnny played rhythm guitar and I played keyboard and was the lead singer, and we won!”

Classmate Gary Menkin shared his adventures with Joey Ramone in Manhattan.

“We spent many days on 48th Street – ‘Music Row’ – at Manny’s and Sam Ash, and many nights in the Village listening to Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix,” he said. “Back in the 60s, it was the place to go.

“He always said he wanted to play in a real rock band, and I told him that one day he would,” Menkin added. “I am glad he achieved what he wanted in life. They were ahead of their time and gave the word ‘punk’ a new meaning.”

Barbara Hollander Binseel first met Joey Ramone and his brother at a Temple Sinai youth group, and not long after her brother, a drummer, would jam with Joey in the front room of her mother’s Forest Hills apartment.

“The tenants on the sixth floor complained that the music was so loud the water in their toilet was overflowing,” she said. “The police were called, and they came in and enjoyed the music. They never got in trouble, it was good times.”

Read more:Forest Hills Times – Legacy of Ramones lives on in Forest Hills