The RAMONES – ” The Albums “

Posted: May 2, 2021 in MUSIC
May be an image of text

Four decades ago, on 30th March 1974, the Ramones played their first gig in New York. Four months after celebrating this momentous anniversary, the band’s founder has died aged 62. The Ramones were an American punk rock band that formed in the New York City neighbourhood of Forest Hills, Queens, in 1974. They are often cited as the first true punk rock group. 

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”. They performed 2,263 concerts, touring virtually nonstop for 22 years. In 1996, after a tour with the Lollapalooza music festival, the Ramones 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 (1951–2001), bassist Dee Dee Ramone (1951–2002), guitarist Johnny Ramone (1948–2004) and drummer Tommy Ramone (1949–2014). The remaining surviving members of the Ramones—bassist C. J. Ramone (who replaced Dee Dee in 1989 and stayed with the band until its dissolution) and drummers Marky Ramone, Richie Ramone and Elvis Ramone—are still musically active.

Recognition of the band’s importance built over the years, and they are now mentioned in many assessments of all-time great rock music, such as number 26 in the Rolling Stone magazine list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”. In 2002, the Ramones were ranked the second-greatest band of all time by Spin, trailing only the Beatles. On March 18th, 2002, the original four members and Tommy’s replacement on drums, Marky Ramone, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on their first year of eligibility, though Joey had died by then. In 2011, the group was awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

See the source image

The Ramones played before an audience for the first time on March 30th, 1974, at Performance Studios. The songs they played were very fast and very short; most clocked in at under two minutes. Around this time, a new music scene was emerging in New York centered on two clubs in downtown Manhattan—Max’s Kansas City and, the more famously, CBGB (usually referred to as CBGB’s). The Ramones made their CBGB debut on August 16th, 1974. Legs McNeil, who cofounded Punk magazine the following year, later described the impact of that performance: “They were all wearing these black leather jackets. And they counted off each song, it was just this wall of noise.  They looked so striking. The band swiftly became regulars at the club, playing there seventy-four times by the end of the year.

See the source image

“Ramones”

The Ramones recorded their debut album, “Ramones”, in February 1976. Of the fourteen songs on the album, the longest, “I Don’t Wanna Go Down to the Basement”, barely surpassed two and a half minutes. While the song writing credits were shared by the entire band, and each member did contribute some writing, much of the writing was done by Dee Dee. The now iconic front cover photograph of the band was taken by Roberta Bayley, a photographer for Punk magazine. The band first had Jeffrey Hyman on drums, John Cummings on guitar and Douglas Colvin providing vocals and bass. Colvin was the first to use the name Ramone, calling himself Dee Dee. Hyman became Joey, Cummings Johnny, and the Ramones were born. 

The band signed to Sire Records in 1975 and, on 23rd May 1976, released their eponymous debut album. The reason for choosing the name is disputed. In an interview with the Soho Weekly News in 1975, Tommy said it was chosen because ‘It’s a nice name … 

The first song of the Ramones self-titled debut album was, undoubtedly, the first powerful notes of a band determined to make an impression. The song rattles out at just over two minutes and was a firm fan favourite form the very beginning. Played at pretty much every Ramones gig over their 22-year career, if there was one song to symbolise their undying influence it is this punk number’s infiltration of the mainstream. Who can resist “Hey, ho, let’s go!” whenever they hear it?

The Ramones’ debut LP was greeted by rock critics with glowing reviews. The Village Voices Robert Christgau wrote, “I love this record, love it Love it, even though I know these boys flirt with images of brutality. For me, it blows everything else off the radio”. In Rolling Stone, described it as “constructed almost entirely of rhythm tracks of an exhilarating intensity rock & roll has not experienced since its earliest days.” Characterizing the band as “authentic American primitives whose work has to be heard to be understood”, he declared, “It is time popular music followed the other arts in honouring its primitives.” Wayne Robbins simply anointed the Ramones as “the best young rock ‘n’ roll band in the known universe.  “Ramones” was not a commercial success, reaching only number 111 on the American album chart. The two singles issued from the album, “Blitzkrieg Bop” and “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend”, failed to chart.

At the band’s first major performance outside of New York, a June date in Youngstown, Ohio, members of Cleveland punk legends Frankenstein aka the Dead Boys were present and struck up a friendship with the band. It was not until they made a brief tour of England that they began to see the fruits of their labour; a performance at the Roundhouse in London on July 4th, 1976, second-billed to the Flamin’ Groovies, organized by Linda Stein, was a resounding success. Glam rock band T. Rex frontman Marc Bolan was in attendance at the Roundhouse show and was invited on stage. Their Roundhouse appearance and a club date the following night—where the band met members of the Sex Pistols and the Clash helped galvanize the burgeoning UK punk rock scene. The Flamin’ Groovies/Ramones double bill was successfully reprised at the Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles the following month, fuelling the punk scene there as well. The Ramones were becoming an increasingly popular live act—a Toronto performance in September energized yet another growing punk scene.

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 4th, 1976. 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: “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. 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.

For a sense of just how revolutionary the first Ramones album was, let’s take a look at the top songs in the country the month of its release: “Disco Lady” by Johnnie Taylor was Number One, and it was followed by “Let Your Love Flow” by the Bellamy Brothers, “Right Back Where We Started From” by Maxine Nightingale and “Boogie Fever” by the Sylvers. Into this pop music void entered four guys from Queens with leather jackets, bad attitudes and two minute songs about sniffing glue, male prostitution and random acts of violence. 

The album was recorded in a matter of days at a studio at Radio City Music Hall for a mere $7,000. “The engineers couldn’t understand what we were doing,” Tommy Ramone told Rolling Stone’s David Browne shortly before the drummer died. “I’m sure he thought he was just recording one song, over and over.”

The disc generated amazing buzz and great reviews, but it had little commercial success. The label believed in the band, however, and they let them continue to make records. In the end, that’s all that really mattered.

See the source image

Leave Home”

The band released two albums in 1977: “Leave Home”, on 10th January, and “Rocket to Russia”, which came out on 4th November. Undeterred by the fact that their debut album failed to rise higher than Number 111 on the Billboard 200, the Ramones returned to the studio to cut another disc in the exact same style. This time they had a slightly bigger budget and a bit more time, though, so “Leave Home” ended up sounding significantly better than the first disc. Nearly every song here absolute classic, including “Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment,” “Pinhead” and the “You’re Gonna Kill That Girl.” Unfortunately, this one did even worse than the first and peaked at Number 148.

Their next two albums, “Leave Home” and “Rocket to Russia”, were released in 1977. “Leave Home” met with even less chart success than Ramones, though it did include the track “Pinhead”, which became one of the band’s signature songs with its chanted refrain of “Gabba Gabba Hey!” “Leave Home” also included a fast-paced cover of the oldie “California Sun”, written by Henry Glover & Morris Levy, and originally recorded by Joe Jones, though the Ramones based their version on the remake by the Rivieras.

See the source image

“Rocket to Russia”

“Rocket to Russia” was the band’s highest-charting album to date, reaching number 49 on the Billboard 200. Dave Marsh called it “the best American rock & roll of the year”. The album also featured the first Ramones single to enter the Billboard charts (albeit only as high as number 81): “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker”. The follow-up single, “Rockaway Beach”, reached number 66 the highest any Ramones single would ever reach in America.

By the time the Ramones began work on Rocket to Russia in the summer of 1977, the band had become a well-oiled machine: They’d been touring non-stop for three years, and they were churning out amazing new songs at a furious pace. The wild antics of the Sex Pistols had forced the American media to pick up on the punk movement, and there were hopes that this would finally be the album that would break the Ramones big. The lead single “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker” actually entered the Hot 100, peaking at Number 81. That’s a modest success for most bands, but for the Ramones it was a major achievement.

The most musically diverse album from the band’s early essential years, ‘Rocket to Russia’ at times equals the band’s debut in volume and influence. Some of the band’s best songs “Rockaway Beach,” and their cover of ‘Do You Wanna Dance?” — are here. Tommy’s last album as drummer.

Sire gave the group their biggest budget yet, and there’s no reason why songs like “Rockaway Beach” and “We’re a Happy Family” couldn’t have become radio hits. For whatever reason, that didn’t happen, and the disc crapped out at Number 49. This was a major blow to the band, and not long afterward Tommy Ramone, tired of the touring and the endless backstage fights, quit. Thankfully, he lived long enough to see his final album with the Ramones come to be recognized as among the of the 1970s.

See the source image

It’s Alive”

On December 31st, 1977 the Ramones recorded “It’s Alive”, a live concert double album, recorded at the Rainbow Theatre, London, The double album was released in April 1979. Sire finally gave an American release to It’s Alive!, a record of a live New Year’s Eve show from London in 1977 that was first made available to lucky overseas consumers in 1979. The Ramones were at the absolute peak of their abilities when they played a New Years Eve show at London’s Rainbow Theater in 1977. Tape was rolling as they tore through 28 songs at lightning speed, and the result is It’s Alive, the definitive document of a Ramones concert. For the most part, they stuck to this exact same show, sprinkling in a few new songs, until their grand farewell in 1996, but they never again sounded so vital, especially after Tommy quit the following year. There are a lot of Ramones live albums, but this is the only one you really need.

See the source image

“Road To Ruin”

Tommy, tired of touring, left the band in early 1978. He continued as the Ramones‘ record producer under his birth name of Erdelyi. His position as drummer was filled by Marc Bell, who had been a member of the early 1970s hard rock band Dust, Wayne County and the Backstreet Boys,  and the pioneering punk group Richard Hell & the Voidoids. Bell adopted the name Marky Ramone. Later that year, the band released their fourth studio album, and first with Marky, “Road to Ruin”. The album, co-produced by Tommy with Ed Stasium, included some new sounds such as acoustic guitar, several ballads, and the band’s first two recorded songs longer than three minutes. “I Wanna Be Sedated”, which appeared both on the album and as a single, would become one of the band’s best-known songs.

“Road to Ruin” was the fourth Ramones album during a two-year period, and on this one they decided to tweak their formula in a doomed attempt to score a hit. There are actual guitar solos, ballads and even a little acoustic guitar. The gambit didn’t really pay off – the album didn’t even crack the Top 100 – but if there were any justice in the world, “I Wanna Be Sedated” would have been one of the biggest songs of 1978. Instead, Andy Gibb scored two massive smashes with “(Love Is) Thicker Than Water” and “Shadow Dancing.”

See the source image

“End Of the Century”

After the band’s movie debut in Roger Corman’sRock ‘n’ Roll High School” (1979), renowned producer Phil Spector became interested in the Ramones and produced their 1980 album “End of the Century”. There is a long-disputed rumour that during the recording sessions in Los Angeles, Spector held Johnny at gunpoint, forcing him to repeatedly play a riff. This record marks a clear break with the focused energy of the records that had come before it, though it’s hard to say how much of this was due to the fact that the band was trying to extend its commercial reach and how much it can be blamed on the circumstances under which it was made and the key participation of a producing legend who also happened to be both a spent force and a homicidal lunatic.

Spector’s influence is most evident on the opening track, “Do You Remember Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio?”, which is both awash in cuteness and an overt, vainglorious declaration that the Ramones were sent by God and Elvis to save the music.  Spector seemed to see something in Joey that he couldn’t detect in the band as a whole, and he lavished his special attentions on him, while Joey, in kind, responded to Spector’s promise to turn them into a real pop band.

It was a period of madness for everyone involved, but it somehow produced a pretty stellar album. “Do You Remember Rock and Roll Radio,” “Chinese Rock” and “Rock N’ Rock Hill School” all rank up with anything in the Ramones catalogue.

Though it was to be the highest-charting album in the band’s history. Johnny made clear that he favoured the band’s more aggressive punk material: “End of the Century was just watered-down Ramones. It’s not the real Ramones.” This stance was also conveyed by the title and track selection of the compilation album Johnny later oversaw, “Loud, Fast Ramones: Their Toughest Hits”. Despite these reservations, Johnny did concede that some of Spector’s work with the band had merit, saying “It really worked when he got to a slower song like ‘Danny Says’ the production really worked tremendously. ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio’ is really good. For the harder stuff, it didn’t work as well.” The string-laden Ronettes cover “Baby, I Love You” released as a single, became the band’s biggest hit in Great Britain, reaching number 8 on the charts.

See the source image

“Pleasant Dreams”

Johnny may have been the first person in the world to realize that their Spectorization wasn’t going to boost their sales much and that their attempts to go pop would convert fewer new fans than it would enrage older ones; he did, after all, figure it out about five minutes into the rehearsal process. Joey was the last person to figure it out, and Dee Dee may have been hot on his heels. For the follow-up, the band hooked up with another pop guy, Graham Gouldman of 10cc. As with its predecessor, the album immediately starts trying to have things both ways, with another anthem about how better sales for the Ramones is a life and death matter: “We Want the Airwaves,” whose lyrics advise that the title occurrence is necessary “if rock is gonna stay alive.” At the same time, the sound of the track, and the album as a whole, is harder than the sound of the Spector album but still smoother and more slicked-down than the band’s first records.

The Ramones were pretty dispirited when they began work on “Pleasant Dreams” in early 1981. Johnny wanted the group to continue to churn out raw punk songs, while Joey hoped to see them embrace pop. The fact that Johnny began dating one of Joey’s ex-girlfriends didn’t help matters, nor did Marky’s growing alcohol problem. The first single, “We Want the Airwaves,” was a clear statement of purpose, but it fell on deaf ears. Radio continued to ignore them, even as they delivered brilliant work like “The KKK Took My Baby Away.”

“Pleasant Dreams”, was the band’s sixth album, was released in 1981. It continued the trend established by End of the Century, taking the band further from the raw punk sound of its early records. As described by Trouser Press, the album, produced by Graham Gouldman of UK pop act 10cc, moved the Ramones “away from their pioneering minimalism into heavy metal territory”. Johnny would contend in retrospect that this direction was a record company decision, a continued futile attempt to get airplay on American radio.  While Pleasant Dreams reached number 58 on the U.S. chart, its two singles failed to register at all.

See the source image

Subterranean Jungle”

After the release of “Subterranean Jungle”, Marky was fired from the band due to his alcoholism. He was replaced by Richard Reinhardt, who adopted the name Richie Ramone. Joey Ramone remarked that “[Richie] saved the band as far as I’m concerned. He’s the greatest thing to happen to the Ramones. He put the spirit back in the band.” Richie is the only Ramones drummer to sing lead vocals on Ramones songs, including “(You) Can’t Say Anything Nice” as well as the unreleased “Elevator Operator”. Joey Ramone commented, “Richie’s very talented and he’s very diverse … He really strengthened the band a hundred percent because he sings backing tracks, he sings lead, and he sings with Dee Dee’s stuff. In the past, it was always just me singing for the most part.” 

After failing to attract any attention with their poppier work in the early 1980s, the Ramones went back to their punk roots with 1983’s Subterranean Jungle. The highlight of the disc is the frenetic “Psycho Therapy,” which was written by Dee Dee and Johnny. “I wanted to do a hardcore song to show the hardcore people that we can play as fast or faster than anybody,” Johnny told Rolling Stone. “Nobody plays faster than us.” This was a challenge to bands like Black Flag and Circle Jerks, but the rest of the album is packed with covers like “Time Has Come Today” by the Chambers Brothers and “Little Bit O’ Soul” by the Music Explosion.

Marky’s ultimate replacement, would not record with the group until the next album, though he did appear in the accompanying music videos for “Time Has Come Today” and “Psycho Therapy.” The fact that there was now such a thing as a Ramones music video tells you a great deal about just how far we’ve come at this point from the days when our heroes were scarfing stray hamburgers in Hilly Kristal‘s kitchen between sets.

Richie was also the only drummer to be the sole composer of Ramones songs including their hit “Somebody Put Something in My Drink” as well as “Smash You”, “Humankind”, “I’m Not Jesus”, “I Know Better Now” and “(You) Can’t Say Anything Nice”. Joey Ramone supported Richie’s songwriting contributions: “I encouraged Richie to write songs. I figured it would make him feel more a part of the group, because we never let anybody else write our songs.” Richie’s composition, “Somebody Put Something in My Drink”, remained a staple in the Ramones set list until their last show in 1996 and was included in the album Loud, Fast Ramones: Their Toughest Hits. The eight-song bonus disc, The Ramones Smash You: Live ’85, is also named after Richie’s composition “Smash You”.

See the source image

“Too Tough to Die”

The first album the Ramones recorded with Richie was “Too Tough to Die” in 1984, with Tommy Erdelyi and Ed Stasium returning as producers. The album marked a shift to something like the band’s original sound.  The “rhythms are back up to jackhammer speed and the songs are down to short, terse statements. The band’s main release of 1985 was the British single Bonzo Goes to Bitburg though it was available in the United States only as an import, it was played widely on American college radio. The song was written, primarily by Joey, in protest of Ronald Reagan‘s visit to a German military cemetery, which included graves of Waffen SS soldiers. Retitled “My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down (Bonzo Goes to Bitburg)”, the song appeared on the band’s ninth studio album, “Animal Boy” Produced by Jean Beauvoir, formerly a member of the Plasmatics.

After two wheels-spinning albums, the Ramones — now on their third drummer, Richie — got back to basics with original drummer Tommy once again co-producing. In addition to a heavier sound (hardcore and metal are the prime drivers here), the album includes some of the band’s best songs since the early days, like the snyth-guided “Howling at the Moon (Sha-La-La)” and the Dee Dee-sung “Wart Hog.”

By general consent, the longest they ever loitered in the right direction after 1978. To mark their 10th year in the business, the lads guaranteed themselves at least a sympathetic audience by coaxing Tommy back to the producer’s chair, although to mollify the record company, they agreed to allow Dave Stewart, of the Eurythmics, produce the designated single, “Howling at the Moon (Sha-La-La).” (Awkwardly for Tommy, it’s the best thing on the album.)

If the past-their-defining-decade Ramones never made their Exile on Main Street. this can stand as their, I don’t know, Some Girls. It’s tough, it’s funny, it rocks, and it never draws to a complete stop, not even on the song that Richie is credited as having written all by himself. Is it as good as their ’70s albums? Don’t make me have to look at you funny.

See the source image

Animal Boy”

In 1985, the Ramones enjoyed their finest underground success since the ’70s with the single “Bonzo Goes to Bitburg,” written in a burst of incredulous disgust by Dee Dee and Joey in order to express Joey’s feelings about Ronald Reagan‘s presidential visit to lay a wreath at a cemetery in Bitburg. Denied domestic release by chickenshit American record executives, the single sold briskly as an import and became quite the college radio hit. It came with a nifty picture sleeve making disrespectful use of a news photo of the president, almost as if these guys were punks. Even Greil Marcus was impressed. The first official American release of the song came when it was included on the album “Animal Boy”, which didn’t come out until a year and a half after the single.

Richie wrote the lead song this time: “Somebody Put Something in My Drink,” which, like the Rolling Stones“Something Happened to Me Yesterday” and Jim Staffords “Wildwood Weed”, is about how weird it can be to be under the influence of intoxicating substances. It was used in whichever of 1987-88’s many movies about fathers and sons magically switching bodies starred Dudley Moore and Kirk Cameron.

By 1986, it was clear that the Ramones were probably never going to have a hit. They’d produced nine albums in ten years, but they were stuck grinding it out on the club circuit like a bunch of newcomers. 

The following year the band recorded their last album with Richie,Halfway to Sanity”. Richie left in August 1987, upset that after being in the band for five years, the other members would still not give him a share of the merchandising money. Richie was replaced by Clem Burke from Blondie, which was disbanded at the time. According to Johnny, the performances with Burke who adopted the name Elvis Ramone were a disaster. He was fired after two performances (August 28th & 29th, 1987) because his drumming could not keep up with the rest of the band.  In September, Marky, now clean and sober, returned to the band. 

See the source image

“Halfway to Sanity”

Drummer Richie was gone, and so was bassist Dee Dee, for the most part, after this album, maybe the most forgettable record in the band’s catalog. The Ramones were pretty much relics by this point, having given up on pop (or any other kind of) stardom after more than a decade of a steady-building cult base that didn’t translate to sales.

See the source image

“Brain Drain” 

In December 1988, the Ramones recorded material for their eleventh studio album, and what was supposed to be a “comeback” for the band, “Brain Drain” co-produced by Beauvoir, Rey, and Bill Laswell. However, the bass parts were done by Daniel Rey and the Dictators’ Andy Shernoff. Dee Dee Ramone would only record the additional vocals on the album citing that members of the band (including himself) were going through personal troubles and changes to the point where he did not want to be in the band anymore. “Brain Drain” received generally mixed to positive reviews upon its release in early 1989, and included the band’s highest-charting hit in America, “Pet Sematary”.

The first new release after the first attempt at a grand summing-up of the band’s output, the two-record best-of/tombstone “Ramones Mania”, does qualify as a half-assed stab at redefining them for a new consumer population that in 1976 was preoccupied with video games and trading cards. The slate of producers who worked on it include Bill Laswell, then on an ongoing mission to sign his name to an album by every carbon-based life form in the English-speaking world that had a record contract, and Jean Beauvoir, who produced Animal Boy and worked on the score for the film Pet Sematary, which gave the boys their second shot at a slightly embarrassing movie theme, not that you’ve really lived until you’ve heard the way Joey throws away the line, “I curse this day.” The Stephen King connection may or may not help account for the scary, cyberpunky album cover art, which might also be explainable as a depiction of what it was like inside Dee Dee’s head at the time of recording: in bad shape and having embarrassed Johnny with his side career as a rapper, he was gone from the band when the album was finished.

After a string of rather forgettable albums, the Ramones briefly returned to form with 1989’s Brain Drain. Lead single “Pet Cemetery” was a minor hit, reaching Number Four on the modern rock chart, but opener “I Believe in Miracles” became regarded as one of the band’s most powerful songs, being covered by Pearl Jam and many others. This could have helped the group stage an actual comeback, but not long after the album came out Dee Dee quit to pursue an ill-fated rap career. This sent the group into the 1990s on very shaky ground.

In turn, the album’s release and subsequent failure to outsell Wilson Phillips marked the end of the Ramones’ contract with Sire/Warner Bros. The album itself isn’t ghastly or anything, and may in fact qualify as a return to form. But it’s pure form, without content or spark. Johnny was more firmly in the driver’s seat than at any time since the band’s inception, and by now, he seems to have viewed recording dates as opportunities to reaffirm the band’s professional standing, as reminders aimed at the necessary people on the touring circuit, which was where they made their money.

See the source image

Mondo Bizarro”

After more than a decade and a half at Sire Records, the Ramones moved to a new label, Radioactive Records. Their first album for the label was 1992’s “Mondo Bizarro”, which reunited them with producer Ed Stasium. It was three years later, the Ramones released their first post-Sire album, “Mondo Bizarro”, on Radioactive, a small, now defunct label set up by their manager. (It cannot in truth be called their first post-Dee Dee album, because, although he doesn’t play on it, Dee Dee wrote three of the songs, including the only memorable one, “Poison Heart.” The end was near.

Shockingly, it’s not bad at all. It’s even kind of good, though not strictly one of life’s essential experiences. One suspects that the long vacation from having to deal with sound engineers and studio coffee was good for the guys, and that once Johnny got himself together he viewed the dismissal from the big record company as a challenge to be squarely met.

See the source image

“Acid Eaters”

“Acid Eaters”, consisting entirely of cover songs, came out the following year. In 1993, the Ramones were featured in the animated television series The Simpsons, providing music and voices for animated versions of themselves in the episode “Rosebud”. Executive producer David Mirkin described the Ramones as “gigantic, obsessive Simpsons fans.”

“Acid Eaters”, an album consisting entirely of covers of ’60s tunes by artists ranging from the Stones, the WhoBob Dylan, and Creedence Clearwater Revival to the Seeds, the Amboy Dukes, and Max Frost and the Troopers, a creative choice that may have been dictated by Dee Dee’s failure to need more bail money. Although even less essential than Mondo Bizarro, it is not without the freak charm of offering a glimpse into a very alternate universe classic rock station.

See the source image

“¡Adios Amigos!”

For their last trick, the band served up 1995’s “¡Adios Amigos!”, which offered more covers—Tom WaitsJohnny Thunders, the theme song from the TV cartoon Spider-man—and more songs by Dee Dee, many of which are also covers, since they first appeared on his solo recordings, where they were fated to remain unheard by the world at large. One of the songs Dee Dee bequeathed to his old band was called “Making Monsters For My Friends”; Dee Dee himself contributed a lead vocal, on the song “Born to Die in Berlin,” which he literally phoned in. It would hard to say for sure which of these facts serves as a better metaphor for the album as a whole.

The Ramones’ final album is also one of their worst, Bassist C.J. sings four songs this time around. Within a year, the band was broken up; within a decade, three-fourths of the original members were dead.

On July 20th, 1999, Dee Dee, Johnny, Joey, Tommy, Marky, and C. J. appeared together at the Virgin Megastore in New York City for an autograph signing. This was the last occasion on which the original four members of the group appeared together. Joey, who had been diagnosed with lymphoma in 1995, died of the illness on April 15th, 2001, in New York. Joey and Marky, who had been involved in a feud, buried the hatchet and made up on live radio on the Howard Stern Show in 1999. The Ramones‘ art and visual imagery complemented the themes of their music and performance. The members adopted a uniform look of long hair, leather jackets, T-shirts, torn jeans, and sneakers. This fashion emphasized minimalism a powerful influence on the New York punk scene of the 1970s—and reflected the band’s short, simple songs. Tommy Ramone recalled that, musically and visually, “We were influenced by comic books, movies, the Andy Warhol scene, and avant-garde films. I was a big Mad magazine fan myself.

On March 18th, 2002, the Ramones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which specifically named Dee Dee, Johnny, Joey, Tommy, and Marky. At the ceremony, the surviving inductees spoke on behalf of the band. Johnny spoke first, thanking the band’s fans and blessing George W. Bush and his presidency. Tommy spoke next, saying how honoured the band felt, but how much it would have meant for Joey. Dee Dee humorously congratulated and thanked himself, while Marky thanked Tommy for influencing his drum style. Green Day played “Teenage Lobotomy”, “Rockaway Beach”, and “Blitzkrieg Bop” as a tribute, demonstrating the Ramones’ continuing influence on later rock musicians. The ceremony was one of Dee Dee’s last public appearances, as he was found dead on June 5th, 2002 from a heroin overdose. The documentary film “End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones” came out in 2004. Johnny, who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1999, died on September 15th, 2004 in Los Angeles, shortly after the film’s release. That October saw the release of a DVD set containing concert footage of the band: “It’s Alive 1974–1996” includes 118 songs from 33 performances over the span of the group’s career. 

The final original member, Tommy Ramone, died on July 11th, 2014 after a battle with bile duct cancer. Tension between Joey and Johnny coloured much of the Ramones‘ career. The pair were politically antagonistic, Joey being a liberal and Johnny a conservative. Their personalities also clashed: Johnny, who spent two years in military school, lived by a strict code of self-discipline, while Joey struggled with obsessive–compulsive disorder and alcoholism. Dee Dee’s bipolar disorder and repeated relapses into drug addiction also caused significant strains. Tommy would also leave the band after being “physically threatened by Johnny, treated with contempt by Dee Dee, and all but ignored by Joey .As new members joined over the years, disbursement and the band’s image frequently became matters of serious dispute. The tensions among the group members were not kept secret from the public as was heard on the Howard Stern radio show in 1997, where during the interview Marky and Joey got into a fight about their respective drinking habits 

The Ramones: Outside the demolished Cavern Club in 1977

Band Members

  • Joey Ramone (Jeffrey Hyman) – lead vocals (1974–1996); drums (1974); died 2001
  • Johnny Ramone (John Cummings) – guitars (1974–1996); died 2004
  • Dee Dee Ramone (Douglas Colvin) – bass, backing and co-lead vocals (1974–1989); lead vocals (1974, 1995, 1996); died 2002
  • Tommy Ramone (Thomas Erdelyi) – drums (1974–1978); died 2014
  • Marky Ramone (Marc Bell) – drums (1978–1983, 1987–1996)
  • Richie Ramone (Richard Reinhardt) – drums, backing vocals (1983–1987)
  • Elvis Ramone (Clem Burke) – drums (1987)
  • C. J. Ramone (Christopher Ward) – bass, backing and co-lead vocals (1989–1996)

Studio albums

  • Ramones (1976)
  • Leave Home (1977)
  • Rocket to Russia (1977)
  • Road to Ruin (1978)
  • End of the Century (1980)
  • Pleasant Dreams (1981)
  • Subterranean Jungle (1983)
  • Too Tough to Die (1984)
  • Animal Boy (1986)
  • Halfway to Sanity (1987)
  • Brain Drain (1989)
  • Mondo Bizarro (1992)
  • Acid Eaters (1993)
  • Adios Amigos! (1995)

The Ramones are said to have played over 2,200 concerts, touring virtually non-stop for 22 years. Their last gig was at the Palace in Hollywood in 1996

Comments
  1. Yep! That was well researched and I agree with all of it as a fan and as a guy who never bought a copy of Adios Amigos. Gabba Gabba Good work Squire.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.