Jeff Wormley: On the Road With The Ramones

By Frances Clause

When walking into Jeff Wormley’s office in Meshel Hall, students that know him as a network administrator in Youngstown State University’s IT Customer Services are greeted by a whiteboard with formulas and equipment in a corner of the room.

Cary Wecht, director of faculty development and a professor in the Department of Communication, described him as prompt, helpful and a good problem solver in his work at YSU.

A worn guitar pick Jeff Wormley used for sound check for The Ramones. Photo by Frances Clause/The Jambar

“[He always had] a story about an adventure he was having, like taking boy scouts on an outing or music or war reenactments,” she said.

But what some may not know about him is his past as a roadie for The Ramones, a highly influential American punk rock band formed in Queens, New York, in 1974.

Wormley’s first experience with The Ramones began when a friend called and told him he couldn’t make it to a gig and he was asked to take his place.

Wormley decided to step in, and when the day approached, he walked into the venue located in upstate New York and helped set up the onstage lighting.

“I had no idea who The Ramones were. When the show was over, I looked out in the crowd and said, ‘What the hell did I just see?’” he said, referring to the intensity of the audience watching the band.

At first, Wormley brushed the experience off as a one-time gig. But when he was asked to work full time as a roadie, he accepted and began his job as monitor engineer.

“I had a close relationship to the band because I’m responsible for what they hear, so if they don’t like the way it sounds, it’s my problem,” he said.

Wormley said many people thought the members of The Ramones were related.

Although they all dressed in sneakers, leather jackets and had the same dark hair and last names, Joey on vocals, Dee Dee on bass, Johnny on guitar and Tommy on drums only grew up together in their middle-class neighborhood of Forest Hills in Queens.

The Ramones went on to perform 2,263 concerts and tour for 22 years. Their importance was recognized over the years as they were ranked the second greatest band of all time behind The Beatles by Spin magazine.

Aside from hanging out with the band, daily life as a roadie was Wormley’s favorite part of the job because of the cities and different countries he had the opportunity to explore every day.

“I’d get up in the morning and head out and just go crazy,” he said. “But we’d show up for work, and [The Ramones] would only play an hour and 10 minutes, so really once you get everything working and the band plays and you pack it up, the rest is either partying or exploring towns and things.”

Jeff Wormley holding a hoodie he wore as a roadie with The Ramones. Photo by Frances Clause/The Jambar

Wormley said he was a part of 200 to 250 shows a year, and there was a period where he flew to over 10 countries in two weeks. Some of his favorite places to visit included Japan, Australia and Europe.

“I think one of the surprising moments was that in the United States when they played at a club, [the venue] would have about 500 people in it,” he said. “But when you would go to South America, they would play in soccer stadiums that held 60 to 80,000 people, and it’d be packed.”

Although he enjoyed traveling, Wormley said it became exhausting, and he is glad to be here at YSU, carrying the memories of many more stories he said should not be told about his journey as a roadie.