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Asbury Park’s The Fast Lane and the Possibly True Story of Joey Ramone’s Throne

Joey Ramone on stage in his prime. (Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The Jersey Shore is losing another of its cherished rock venues. Crews are currently at work tearing down Asbury Park’s legendary Fast Lane.

The Fourth Avenue staple has been closed to the public on and off for years and with its demolition goes any possible hope of seeing it reopened in the future. Its next door neighbor, the popular bowling alley turned music venue and bar Asbury Lanes remains open.

The lot previously occupied by the Fast Lane will be turned into an outdoor area for Lanes patrons before the entire block is ultimately redeveloped sometime in 2015.

Rock and roll history runs rampant in Asbury Park and the Fast Lane was no exception. It is said to be the stage where Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi first performed together.

Recently, acclaimed street artist Shepard Fairey used the east side of the building as his canvas, installing a massive mural featuring some of punk rock’s most iconic figures including Henry Rollins of Black Flag, Ian Mackaye of Minor Threat and Fugazi, Glen Danzig of (New Jersey’s own) The Misfits, Joe Strummer of the Clash, Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols and Joey Ramone of The Ramones.

Ramone himself is the center of one of the most fascinating urban legends surrounding the Fast Lane. Like John Henry’s hammer or Davy Crockett’s coonskin, we may never know the true origin behind this piece of folklore. It comes to me at least third hand from a friend whose father used to run sound in club with a guy who… well, you get the idea.

Gather around the campfire and hear the story of Joey Ramone’s throne.

Despite the down and dirty, streetwise appearance of The Ramones, oft clad in leather biker jackets and skinny, torn jeans, Joey Ramone was known to be a very serious germaphobe. Considering this, the decades he spent on the road with the band are even more miraculous, especially their early trips to the UK where Joey must have been consistently grossed out by the grimy likes of the Sex Pistols and The Clash.

As is true of any rock band, the more popular a group becomes, the more demands they can make of promoters and venues. By the time The Ramones were scheduled to perform at the Fast Lane, they had reached a considerable level of fame.

Because of his aversion to germs, part of Joey’s rider included use of a private toilet that only he would be able to access. The cramped dressing area of the Fast Lane’s backstage was apparently not equipped.

The story goes that the venue had a toilet hastily installed to accommodate him and it supposedly remained in commission after the show and, according to legend, stood until now.

Is it true? I have no idea. Does it matter? Not in the slightest.

Whether it’s Clarence Clemons kicking in the door of the Wonder Bar or Joey Ramone using the bathroom in peace at the Fast Lane, sometimes Jersey Shore legends are better left unconfirmed.

RIP Joey and RIP Fast Lane. Asbury Park won’t be the same without you.

Joey Ramone was among a number of punk icons in a mural by Shepard Fairey on the side of the Fast Lane building. (Flickr user DanCentury)

Check out more Jersey Shore Rock history with The Hawkumentary

 

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