Remembering Johnny Ramone and Uncle Mark Reynolds
Two well-loved and admired music figures died recently. International punk icon Johnny Ramone, 55, passed Sept. 15, four days after Decatur acoustic scene cornerstone Uncle Mark Reynolds, 44. Both men left lasting legacies.
Ramone died in his sleep at home in Los Angeles from prostate cancer. He was surrounded by family and a diverse group of friends, including Rob Zombie, John Frusciante, Lisa-Marie Presley, Pete Yorn, Vincent Gallo, Steve Jones and Talia Shire.
Born John Cummings, the late guitarist formed the Ramones 30 years ago in New York City. (He is the third member of the seminal rock band to die in three years.) His rapid-fire downstroke string attack drove the raw and aggressive energy of his band, which — despite its lack of commercial success — affected generations of music fans and musicians around the world. "They're like the Beatles of punk," says Athens-based singer/songwriter Kevn Kinney of drivin' n' cryin'. "They did it all."
Here's what some area musicians had to say about Johnny:
"When I was learning to play the guitar, the first thing I wanted to get down solid was bar chords so I could figure out all of Johnny's parts from the first Ramones record. When I started writing my own songs, I wanted that same constant chainsaw sound he wrapped around every tune."
-- Blake Rainey, Young Antiques
"Johnny Ramone was one of the greatest guitar minds of the 20th century. He got an idea, defined it, never swayed from it, blew people's minds, became a legend and then retired. What else is there to do?"
-- Jim Johnson, the Skylarks, the Chant, Atlanta music scene photographer
"I saw them at the Agora Ballroom in 1978 or so. I was right up front. Women were trying to crawl over our backs to get to Johnny. After the show, we were bruised black and blue over the entire front of our bodies, but we were in heaven because we had gotten to see our heroes play live."
-- Vanessa Briscoe Hay, Pylon vocalist and Athens-based nurse, who recommends that guys take the "simple blood test" to screen for prostate cancer.
Uncle Mark Reynolds was an easygoing singer and acoustic guitarist who reached a creative and popular peak during the early- to mid-'90s working at Eddie's Attic. As his alter-ego, "Bud Bass," he booked many of the acts there for several years and was known for his unwavering support of local music of all genres.
In recent years, he began having health problems. He suffered two heart attacks in '99 and had a defibrillator implanted in his chest. Two weeks prior to his death, he was admitted to Piedmont Hospital and was awaiting a new, improved defibrillator that would also function like a pacemaker. Sadly, he never made it through the preparation process. "His heart had just had enough," said longtime performing partner and roommate Ashley Wilson. "It just couldn't continue." Reynolds died the morning of Sept 11.
Here is what some of his many friends had to say about him:
"They called him 'Uncle Mark' for good reason: He was like a great uncle to the whole scene, really. "
-- Todd Van Sickle, owner of Eddie's Attic
"Mark Reynolds was a true community musician. I never heard him say a bad word about anyone, he was passionate about the music scene, and he supported the Atlanta music community in whatever role was necessary."
-- Amy Ray, Indigo Girls
"Last month, before he went in the hospital, he made a rare appearance out in public at a benefit concert I played. He was in great spirits and lending his full support to the musicians and the cause, as usual. I'm saddened by his passing, but I'll tell you what, he seemed pretty happy last month, at peace with himself. We should all be so lucky and have hearts as big."
-- Blake Guthrie, singer/songwriter
A free celebration and remembrance of Uncle Mark Reynolds will be held at Eddie's Attic, Sun., Oct. 3, at noon.