The Ramones are legendary! Formed in New York City in 1974 where they received limited commercial success. Joey (lead singer), Johnny (guitarist), Dee Dee (bassist), and Tommy (drummer) were major influences on the Punk Movement in the 1970s in both the United States and United Kingdom. In 1974 the band was formed. The Ramones had their first performance on March 30, 1974 at Performance Studios. The Ramones had timing and luck on their side as a new music (punk rock) scene was emerging in Manhattan at two clubs – Max’s Kansas City and CBGB’s. CBGB’s is known for the birth of punk rock and if the walls of that club could talk we would hear the stories of the B-52’s, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Blondie, and the Ramones.
In 1975 the band was signed to a deal with Sire Records by Seymour Stein. The band was unique with songs built on rhythms and guitar riffs that makes the audience want to jump up and down as well as the lack of lyrical complications it was easy to just fall into the music. The 70s become the age of music segregation – the hippy music that was all about the lyrics and the punk rock scene that was all about the rhythms, riffs, and bass beats.
The Ramones recorded their debut album which was released in April 1976 with a list of fourteen songs. Dee Dee Ramone was the primary songwriter, even though credit was given to the whole band. The album was produced by Craig Leon and Tommy Ramone with a low budget of $6,400. When I saw that number I was in shock. Try making a record that has the impact the Ramones have I would say you are crazy, but today I think there are more capabilities to make a cheap record than there were in the 1970s. Today, you have computers that can be used to record and mix an entire album and release it, while back in the day you needed monstrous equipment to even develop and create a song; let alone a manufacturing company that had the ability to make physical records to be sold.
The band received glowing reviews from rock critics everywhere for the album “Ramones”:
Paul Nelson of Rolling Stones Magazine said, “Constructed almost entirely of rhythm tracks of an exhilarating intensity rock n’ roll has not experienced since its early day.”
Robert Christgau of the Village Voice said, “I love this record…For me it blows everything else off the radio.”
Unfortunately, even though they received love from every critic that listened, they did not receive the same welcoming by the public. The album only reached 111 on the Billboard charts and the two singles “Blitzkrieg Bop” and “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” never charted. Now, “Blitzkrieg Bop” is one of their most recognized songs with guitar riffs that repeat, drums beats that carry the lyrics, and rhythms that makes the awkward kid in me just want to bounce.
“Hey ho, let’s go
Hey ho, let’s go
They’re forming in a straight line
They’re going through a tight wind
The kids are losing their minds
The Blitzkrieg Bop
They’re piling in the back seat
They’re generating steam heat
Pulsating to the back beat
The Blitzkrieg Bop.
Hey ho, let’s go
Shoot’em in the back now
What they want, I don’t know
They’re all reved up and ready to go”
It wasn’t until a brief tour in England in July 1976 when they began to gain popularity. The Ramones performed 2,263 concerts and toured non-stop for 22 years. In 1996 the band disbanded due to a slew of problems with various band members including drugs, drinking, OCD, and bipolar disorder. In 2002 they were inducted into the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame while in 2011 they received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. By 2014 all of the original band members had passed away and all we have left now is their legacy and the punk rock music that started it all. In April 2016 we celebrate 40 years of the Ramones giving the public music that made head banging appropriate in the car to lyrics you could never understand.
Click here for the album that started it all!