Christopher Joseph Ward (born October 8, 1965), better known as C. J. Ramone, is an American musician best known for working as the bassist, backing and occasional lead vocalist of the punk rock group the Ramones from 1989 to 1996. He is one of the three surviving members of the Ramones, along with two of their drummers Marky Ramone and Richie Ramone.
Christopher J. Ward was born in Queens, New York City, though he lived in Deer Park, New York for most of his early life.
He attended Ss. Cyril and Methodius School and graduated from Deer Park High School in 1983.
Prior to joining the Ramones, Ward served in the United States Marine Corps. He was a fan of the Ramones, particularly of Dee Dee Ramone, before joining the band, and later played with him in a band called the Remains or the Ramainz, which was formed by Dee Dee Ramone, Marky Ramone and Dee Dee’s wife, Barbara Zampini (Barbara Ramone). He also played in Guitar Pete’s Axe Attack, Los Gusanos, Bad Chopper. CJ Ramone released the album Reconquista on June 29, 2012, and his album Last Chance To Dance was released in November (USA) and December (Europe) 2014.
Ward replaced original band member Dee Dee Ramone, though Dee Dee continued to write songs for the group. C.J. sang many well-known Ramones songs and gave the band a younger image. In the documentary End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones it is stated that when C.J. joined the Ramones he was seen as a breath of fresh air into the band. Johnny Ramone says he knew immediately when C.J. auditioned to replace Dee Dee that he was right, commenting that he “had the right look”. When the Ramones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame original Ramones drummer, Tommy Ramone, credited C.J. with “keeping the band young”.
C.J. Ramone was the youngest member of the Ramones when he joined, by nine years. (He also shared a birthday, October 8, with bandmate Johnny Ramone.) While C.J.’s first show with the Ramones was on September 30, 1989, in Leicester, England, his official debut with the band was actually three weeks earlier on September 4 of that year during the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon that aired on WWOR-TV in New York. He played with the band until they retired on August 6, 1996.
C.J. has used Ampeg Amplification throughout his career.
Prior to joining The Ramones, C.J. played an early ’70s Fender Jazz Bass and always played with his fingers (he actually explained in a 2015 interview with Fender that on his way to first meet the band, he had to stop at a music store and buy picks in order to play like Dee Dee did before him). When he joined the Ramones, they gave him a black Mexican Fender Precision Bass, with a white pickguard and a maple neck and that was his main bass for the first gigs with the Ramones. He also had two cream Fender Precision basses, one with a white pickguard and another with a black. (These basses can be seen on various backstage photos.) He then bought a white American Fender Precision with a white pickguard (later switched to a black to make it look more like Dee Dee’s bass guitars). Then he finally got a vintage 1979 Fender Precision, like the basses that Dee Dee used to play. He would use that bass mainly the rest of his time with the Ramones.
While in the Ramones, C.J. had a custom-made Mosrite Bass made for him by Semie Mosley, white with a tortoise shell Pick guard. He used it in Bad Chopper. He has since sold this bass. He then used a Mosrite bass that he designed with Mr. Yuasa of the Filmore Company, the Mosrite copyright owner in Japan. It was white with a black pick guard (serial number 000CJ). This bass was stolen when he toured Japan in February 2010.
Before the Ramones, Ward played in a heavy metal band called Guitar Pete’s Axe Attack, where he appeared on two albums. In 1992, while still with the Ramones, he started a hard rock band named Los Gusanos. They released a few singles before releasing their only album in 1997, which was worked on by Ramones producer Daniel Rey. After the Ramones’ retirement Ward played a few shows with the Ramainz, a Ramones tribute band formed by Dee Dee Ramone, Marky Ramone and Dee Dee’s wife Barbara Zampini. In 1998, Los Gusanos broke up, leading to Ward’s next band the Warm Jets, which released one single before changing their name due to another band with the same name; as Bad Chopper, they released a single and in 2007 a self-titled album also produced by Rey. The band broke up in summer 2009.
C.J. was married to Marky Ramone’s niece, Chessa, with whom he has two children, Liam and Liliana. He is now married to lawyer Denise Barton with whom he has one daughter, Mia Dove.
C.J. attends the Walk Now for Autism Speaks event in Long Island annually and frequently fund raises for organizations that focus on autism including Autism Speaks and East End Disability Associates because his son Liam has the condition.
With Guitar Pete’s Axe Attack
- Dead Soldier’s Revenge (1985)
- Nightmare (1986)
With the Ramones
- Mondo Bizarro (1992)
- Acid Eaters (1993)
- ¡Adios Amigos! (1995)
- Loco Live (1991)
- Greatest Hits Live (1996)
- We’re Outta Here! (1997)
With Los Gusanos
- “Quick to Cut” 7″ (1993)
- Youth Gone Mad split 7″ (1994)
- I’d Love to Save the World EP (1994)
- Los Gusanos (1998)
With Bad Chopper
- The Warm Jets 7″ (as The Warm Jets) (2000)
- “Real Bad Time” 7″ (2003)
- Bad Chopper (2007)
- Reconquista (2012)
- “Understand Me?” 7″ (2014)
- Last Chance To Dance (2013-2014)
- American Beauty (2017)
- Guest vocals on “Love Sucks” on The Independents’ album In for the Kill (1995)
- Bass on “The Bowery Electric” on the Bowery Electric Crews single (2002)
- Guest vocals on “Punishment Fits the Crime” with Bien Desocupados on Todos Somos Ramones (2005)
- “I Wanna Be Sedated” and “Blitzkrieg Bop” on collection album “Mosrite Rebirth” (2012)