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20 Years Ago: The Ramones Play Their Last Show

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For more than 20 years, the Ramones never let up, giving all they had every time they stepped on stage. On Aug. 6, 1996, after 2,263 shows, it all came to an end at the Palace in Hollywood, Calif.

“I can tell you that it’s coming to an end,” singer Joey Ramone told Billboard back in 1995. “All good things come to an end one day. I got very mixed feelings about the whole thing, because on one hand, there’s nothing better than the Ramones. But on the other hand, there’s a lot of resistance, a lot of crap, a lot of frustration and a lot of politics.”

The writing had been on the wall as cracks within the band kept getting larger. Never able to break into the “big leagues” in terms of sales, the band chugged along but fewer and fewer were taking notice. Despite the obvious influence the Ramones had on “Generation X”-era era rockers like Nirvana, Green Day and others, to the kids of the era, they were old news. By the mid-’90s, the end was inevitable.

The band issued a final LP, Adios Amigos, in July 1995 and the band joined the Lollapalooza tour of 1996 for a month of dates with Metallica and Soundgarden headlining. “If this is the last show the Ramones do, then it’s an insult to the intelligence of the world and a shame for rock and roll,” said Lemmy of Motorhead in an interview the night of the final gig. “They are one of the best bands you’ve ever seen. Neglect them at your peril. They will teach you everything about rock and roll. Everything about rock and roll was in those songs, and if they’re gone, then it’s a damn shame.”

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The final show wrapped up with a cover of the Dave Clark Five classic “Any Way You Want It,” with guest Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam (a close friend of guitarist Johnny Ramone). “We did the show, then afterwards, nobody said a thing,” recalled drummer Marky Ramone. “Nobody said goodbye to each other.”

After the last chords rang out, the band just walked away. “I said nothing to the other guys, I just walked out – it was the way I lived my life,” guitarist Johnny Ramone told Rolling Stone. “Of course, I was really feeling loss of some sort. I just didn’t want to admit it.”

Within five years, Joey Ramone would succumb to cancer with the bad blood between he and Johnny — reportedly over Johnny dating, and subsequently marrying, Joey’s girlfriend, Linda — never settled. Drummer Marky was the only Ramone to visit Joey as he battled the disease. “You need to visit him,” Marky told Johnny. “The window is closing.” “Let it close,” replied Johnny. “He’s not my friend.” Three years later, Johnny would also die of cancer. Bassist Dee Dee Ramone died of a heroin overdose in 2002, and original drummer Tommy, of cancer, passed away in 2014. The original foursome are all gone.

See the Ramones and Other Rockers in the Top 100 Albums of the ’70s

Next: Top 10 Ramones Songs

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