The great Joey Ramone would have turned 70 years old today (May 19th). The iconic singer was the King of Punk in more ways than one. Not only did he spearhead a revolutionary genre of music, he and his band the Ramones also “punked” fellow legend Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols — in the absolute worst way.
The official Conan YouTube channel recently shared a 1999 appearance by Joey Ramone on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, in which the singer told a story about a pretty nasty prank the Ramones pulled on Rotten.
After some small talk, O’Brien mentioned that he heard the Sex Pistols wanted to fight the Ramones back in the day. “When we first met [the Sex Pistols], it was our first tour over there [in the UK],” responded Joey. “That’s how they were, like they wanted to start something.”
He continued, “In ’77, we came back [to the UK], we did a tour, and Johnny Rotten wanted to come backstage. So, a little prank that we pulled on Johnny was that we all kinda pissed in the beer,” eliciting much laughter from the audience and leading Conan to ask, “What do you mean you kinda pissed in the beer?” To which Joey confirmed, “We urinated and pissed in the beer. And then Johnny Ramone gave Johnny Rotten the beer. It’s like our way of saying hello.”
Perhaps that encounter between the Ramones and Johnny Rotten will be depicted in the recently announced Joey Ramone biopic, I Slept With Joey Ramone, based on the memoir by Joey’s brother Mickey Leigh. The upcoming Netflix film will star Saturday Night Live cast member Pete Davidson as the Ramones frontman.
Watch Joey Ramone tell Conan O’Brien about the prank below, and in honor of what would have been the punk icon’s 70th birthday, spin some of the band’s legendary albums today.