“Hey! Ho! Let’s Go” – that was our Rally Cry as we went to see the Ramones in 1983 at Grand Circus Theatre in Detroit – a great venue as we were on main floor with about 1000 other screaming bumping fans.
It was the Subterranean Jungle Tour which saw the Ramones head back to their Punk roots and away from worrying about being played on the radio.
Ramones / Blitzkrieg Bop
- Dee Dee (bass, vocals),
- Joey (vocals),
- Johnny (guitar),
- Tommy (drums, later replaced by Marky)
They were The American punk band; an endless wellspring of noise, energy, attitude, humor and (sometimes forgotten) great songs, who helped reinvent rock ‘n’ roll when it needed it most in the mid-’70s.
Working for indie Sire Records in the mid-’70s, producer/talent scout Craig Leon became involved with the percolating New York underground music scene. One summer night in 1975 he went to CBGB’s and saw two bands, the Talking Heads and the Ramones.
“I went to that show and there were literally four people in the audience besides me, but the bands were phenomenal,” Leon said. A lot of people didn’t even think the Ramones could make a record. There were weeks of preproduction on a very basic level: like when the songs started and when they ended. Their early sets were one long song until they ran out of steam or fought. You could see it as a performance art-type thing, where you had a 17-minute concise capsule of everything you ever knew about rock ‘n’ roll, or you could see it as 22 little songs,” he said. They went for the songs.
The Ramones were an American punk rock band that formed in the New York City neighborhood of Forest Hills, Queens, in 1974. They are often cited as the first true punk rock group. Despite achieving only limited commercial success initially, the band was highly influential in the United States, Argentina, Brazil and most of South America, as well as Europe, including the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and Belgium.
All of the band members adopted pseudonyms ending with the surname “Ramone”, although none of them were biologically related; they were inspired by Paul McCartney of the Beatles, who would check into hotels as “Paul Ramon“.
The Ramones performed 2,263 concerts, touring virtually nonstop for 22 years. In 1996, after a tour with the Lollapalooza music festival, they played a farewell concert in Los Angeles and disbanded.
By 2014, all four of the band’s original members had died – lead singer Joey Ramone (Jeffrey Hyman) 1951–2001, bassist Dee Dee Ramone (Douglas Colvin) 1951–2002, guitarist Johnny Ramone (John Cummings) 1948–2004 and drummer Tommy Ramone (Thomas Erdelyi) 1949–2014.
The remaining surviving members of the Ramones—bassist C. J. Ramone (Christopher Ward) (who replaced Dee Dee in 1989 and stayed with the band until its dissolution) and drummers Marky Ramone (Marc Bell), Richie Ramone (Richard Reinhardt) and Elvis Ramone (Clem Burke) —are still musically active.
The Ramones’ first album (1976) is a roaring minimalist icon — the first real American punk record. Layers and layers of accumulated bloat and sheen were stripped away to reveal rock ‘n’ roll at its most basic and vital on songs like “Blitzkreig Bop,” “Beat On the Brat” and “Let’s Dance.”
The Ramones’ sound was blazing early-’60s surf music played through the overdriven distortion of Blue Cheer and Black Sabbath. Yet, according to Leon, the Ramones saw themselves as a pop band. “In our naivete, we thought they were going to be bigger than the Beatles. They had even named themselves after Paul McCartney’s early stage name, ‘Paul Ramone,’” Leon said.
The Ramones’ debut album had an outsized effect relative to its modest sales. According to Generation X bassist Tony James, “Everybody went up three gears the day they got that first Ramones album. Punk rock—that rama-lama super-fast stuff—is totally down to the Ramones. Bands were just playing in an MC5 groove until then.”
The Ramones’ two July 1976 shows, like their debut album, are seen as having a significant impact on the style of many of the newly formed British punk acts—as one observer put it, “instantly nearly every band speeded up“.
The Ramones’ first British concert, at London’s Roundhouse concert hall, was held on July 4, 1976, the United States Bicentennial. The Sex Pistols were playing in Sheffield that evening, supported by The Clash, making their public debut. The next night, members of both bands attended the Ramones’ gig at the Dingwall’s club. Ramones manager Danny Fields recalls a conversation between Johnny Ramone and Clash bassist Paul Simonon (which he mis-locates at the Roundhouse): “Johnny asked him, ‘What do you do? Are you in a band?‘ Paul said, ‘Well, we just rehearse. We call ourselves The Clash but we’re not good enough.‘ Johnny said, ‘Wait till you see us—we stink, we’re lousy, we can’t play. Just get out there and do it.’”
Another band whose members saw the Ramones perform, the Damned, played their first show two days later. Jimmy Pursey of Sham 69 has said that he considers the Ramones his band’s “only blueprint”. The central fanzine of the early UK punk scene, Sniffin’ Glue, was named after the song “Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue“, which appeared on the debut LP.
Ramones / I Wanna Be Sedated
One great band that started the movement in the USA that we will never be able to see live again. I am fortunate to have been able to.
Ramones – Live At The Rainbow – December 31, 1977