Spurred on by VH1's Behind the Music series, rock biographies have turned into little more than banal exposés of bad behavior. For this reason alone, Mandy Stein's touching tribute to The Ramones, comes off as oddly unconventional and exciting. Rather than interviewing bitter roadies and flustered hotel managers, Stein talks to the musicians and family members who gathered at the legendary Avalon Theatre in Los Angeles on September 12, 2004, for a concert honoring The Ramones' 30th anniversary. The concert, which took place just two-and-a-half days before Johnny Ramone's death, featured more than a dozen musicians cranking out Ramones covers. Among the more memorable performances were Pete Yorn's soulful interpretations of "Don't Come Close," and a gray-haired Henry Rollins' energetic "Blitzkreig Bop." But it was the sudden appearance of Eddie Vedder, the Hamlet of alternative rock, that really shook the crowd. His doleful moans and sensitive vibratos infused meaning into "I Believe in Miracles." Rob Zombie, a close friend of Johnny Ramone's, agreed to host and help organize the sold-out show. At one point while on stage, he picked up his cell phone and called Johnny, who was too sick to attend the concert. When Johnny answered, he turned the cell phone to the crowd, cueing them to chant "Hey Ho, Let's Go!" Although Rob insists that Johnny was extremely touched by the call, the Ramones' guitarist never lost his signature cool. When the audience settled down, Rob put the phone to his ear: "Keep it moving, Rob," Johnny ordered.
A graduate of Occidental College with an art history and visual arts degree, Mandy Stein is both a producer and director. In 1999, she helped shoot and was an associate producer on Devil's Playground, an HBO/Channel 4 Films documentary about Amish youth and the choices they face in the modern world. Other producer credits include: Crossover, an IFC Films documentary on musicians transitioning into acting; Slasher, director John Landis' documentary on a used car salesman (for which Stein also supervised music); and What Remains, a documentary on celebrated photographer Sally Mann that premiered at Sundance and will air on HBO and the BBC. You See Me Laughin', her directorial debut, aired on IFC and focuses on the lives of the hill-country bluesmen who've kept their music alive in juke joints along the Mississippi. Stein is currently working on a documentary on the closing of legendary punk rock club CBGB's.