It’s impossible to play punk-rock guitar without being influenced by Johnny Ramone. What he did was simultaneously complex and simple. He brought this blitzkrieg explosiveness to his playing and at the same time showed that you don’t need to be an incredible musician to play this music — that you can do more with less.
I got to know Johnny after I ran into him at a bar in Los Angeles in 1997, when Green Day was recording our album Nimrod. Even though he and I were very different on the political end of things, we could always sit around and talk music. It was mind-blowing to get feedback from him, because he was a hero of mine.
When Green Day played at the Ramones’ induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002, he came backstage afterward and told us, ”That was great — you guys sounded really good.” Then he said, ”But you went a little bit out of tune at the end there.” One thing about Johnny: He was always as brutally honest as his playing. (Ramone died of prostate cancer in Los Angeles.)