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Plaque honoring borough native Joey Ramone reaches new heights

Ramones fans will go to great heights to steal a street sign named for late Forest Hills resident Joey Ramone.

Since the “Joey Ramone Place” plaque was installed at the corner of Bowery and East Second Street in Manhattan to honor the punk rocker from Forest Hills in 2003, thieves have repeatedly snatched it, making it one of the most frequently stolen signs in New York, a city Department of Transportation spokesman said this week.

“It has been replaced three times since it was put up in 2003,” city DOT spokesman Montgomery Dean said. “It’s one of the most popular signs to be stolen, along with the Wall Street and Broadway signs.”

The last time the sign had to be replaced was in 2009, when the city decided to raise the height of the sign to 20 feet to deter robbers, Dean said. The plaque is located where the CBGB music club once stood. The club, which closed in 2006, was a forum for a number of punk rock bands, including The Ramones, The Misfits and The Patti Smith Group.

“Every time I turn down Second Street, I look up and say, ‘Hey Joey, you belong up there,’” Marky Ramone, the band’s last surviving member, told the New York Post.

Joey Ramone and members of his band grew up in Forest Hills and attended Forest Hills High School. Often cited as the first punk rock band, The Ramones formed in Forest Hills in 1974.

They went on to become known throughout the world and toured nearly nonstop for 22 years. Joey Ramone died of lymphoma in 2001, one year before the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The Ramones had a series of hits, including “I Wanna Be Sedated,” “Blitzkrieg Bop” and “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker.” They sang about their home borough in the song “Rockaway Beach,” a tune on the 1977 “Rocket to Russia” album.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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