Today’s t-shirt is the last in our series looking at some of the best love-inspired t-shirts from our collection - in honour of Valentine’s Day and month of love. This week we’ve tripped into the gutter – as we take the literary leap from Cocker to Cock. Listen it’s not just love that makes the world go round and we’ve been waiting twelve years for a chance to flog this t-shirt! We missed the chance to write about this on Chinese New Year so excuse our tenuous link this month as we present to you the Worn Free Joey Ramone Year of the Cock t-shirt.
Of course this t-shirt isn’t just about punk rock cock shocks, it’s also celebrating the Chinese year of the Cock, or Rooster, which comes round but once every twelve years - so based on our calculations we reckon this photo was probably taken in 1981, as Joey himself was born in 1951 (the year of the Rabbit) and the band didn’t play their first gig until 1974 (Year of the Tiger – Rawwwwr!).
Famous for their epically short, punk rock songs played at breakneck speed, the Ramones formed in Queens, New York as an antidote to the bloated, hippie stoner rock of that era. Originally Joey was going to be the drummer in the band but as the songs became increasingly frantic, he found that he could not keep up. He switched to lead vocals instead, developing a distinctive monotone tenor style and the rest is punk-rock history! At 6’ 5” Joey’s stillness and deadpan stage presence gave the songs an air of decorum, which made him stand out from his contemporaries, as their manager at the time, Danny Fields, explains:
"He was a perfect instrument of those songs and that speed and that energy. He never screamed, never waved his arms round. He stood in one place and delivered. It was so tasteful."
And it wasn’t just the songs that stood out, Joey always looked immaculate compared to other punk rockers of the time, having been diagnosed with severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder from an early age. When he was a child, doctors told his mother that his condition was so severe, he would not be able to function in a normal society. His brother Mickey Leigh recalls the tribulations of living in close proximity to Joey:
“It was very difficult to grow up sharing a room with someone turning lights on and off, running the water in the bathroom for hours and hours, unable to throw things away.”
Along with his unusual height the condition made Joey a target for bullies at school and after dabbling in the creative arts, music soon became his escape, before he made it his full time career.
The Ramones split in 1996 and within 8 years three of their original members had died, with Joey passing on April 4th 2001 following a long battle with lymphoma. According to his friend and former neighbour Edward Rogers, despite the punk rock image, Joey was a caring and sensitive guy until the end:
“He was notoriously late so you’d often see the rest of the band waiting in the car outside for Joey to come down. Then when he got cancer he spent a lot of time in the building because he wasn’t touring any more. He knew all the elderly ladies in the lobby by name and would spend time with all of them. He’d always stop in the street to talk to people, and at Christmas would bring us presents. He was such a gentle soul. If he was still alive he would be amazed at the effect of the Ramones’ legacy.”
We think this Joey Ramone Year of the Cock t-shirt has something everyone – whether you like the Ramones, you were born in 1969, 1981, 1993, you like chickens or maybe you just like to wear something current? Grab one now or you’ll have to wait twelve years for this t-shirt to come around again!