They were brash, crude, street demons with a penchant for putting out the best 3-minute songs for a genre that they alone created. Punk.
For the last few days I find myself feeling kind of somber. Why? I miss the Ramones. I miss them all. I miss Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee, and Tommy (of the four, only Tommy lives). The Ramones were original. They were brash, crude, street demons with a penchant for putting out the best 3-minute songs for a genre that they alone created. Punk. You’ll read a lot on this website on punk and the reason for that is simple. I love Punk. I love all facets of music, really, but punk has always been my mistress and almost 20 years after I discovered her, I show no signs of letting her go. Bad Religion, a band you’re well aware of since I bring them up in almost every blog I write, was my first foray into punk rock. I don’t remember the name of the first girl I ever made out with (okay, that’s a lie. Her name was Maria. We were four years old and she was my dad’s ex-girlfriend’s daughter.) I don’t remember the first fight I was ever in (lie #2: His name was Fawaz Habbas).
Fast is good and the Ramones were great at going fast.
I’ll always remember where I was when I first heard The Ramones. I was 16 years old and a fan of Howard Stern. Howard Stern, for those too young to remember was the hottest morning DJ in New York. I had never missed his radio program when he was still on 92.3 K-Rock and I guess as a promotion to his movie, Private Parts, Howard played some cuts off of the movie’s soundtrack. One of those tracks that he played was “Pinhead” by the Ramones and I was hooked. There was nothing to the music. It was just…fast. Fast is good and the Ramones were great at going fast. I wanted it more. As the years progressed and I got older and my taste in music became more eclectic, I would always come crawling back to the Ramones when I wanted to feel something. I know, I know, music, regardless of the genre will always evoke some sort of feeling from the individual listening to it, but the Ramones were something different for me entirely. The Ramones were fun. Whenever I had a shitty day, just feeling kind of low about the life I was living, I would just throw on any of the Ramones albums (the first 4 Ramones were/are staples to my very existence) and I was made well again.
The Ramones never got the recognition in life that they achieved after the integral parts died away (Joey Ramone died of lymphoma on April 15, 2001; Dee Dee Ramone died of a heroin overdose on June 5th, 2002; Johnny Ramone died on September 15, 2004 after a 5-year battle with prostate cancer. Arturo Vega, the Ramones friend, archivist, creator of the Ramones iconic logo, and honorary 5th Ramone died on June 8th of this year. Details of his passing have been undisclosed). The band called it quits on August 6, 1996 after pulling off one last concert at the Palace in Hollywood. One has to wonder, if the Ramones got the love and respect that they deserved (F.Y.I: The Ramones were inducted into the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. Johnny, Dee Dee, Tommy, and Marky Ramone were there to accept the honor. Joey had died a few months prior to the induction.), I’m pretty sure they’d still be around making music for the masses had they not disbanded. It wasn’t the cancer that got Joey and Johnny and it wasn’t the heroin that did Dee Dee in. It was the inactivity. It was the separation of the Brothers Ramone. What the Ramones collectively neglected to realize was that their music was the lifeblood that was keeping them all alive, without that, they were lost; and lost them all we did. One by one, the Ramones died away. One thing remains though. Their legacy. The Ramones are legends. Their style of music has been “borrowed” so many times over, it’s hard not to pick out a Ramones bastard here and there whenever I deign to listen to the radio. For their time, they were outlaws, street urchins, whores (Dee Dee actually was), and New York, they were ours. For myself, all I can say is thank you Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee, and Tommy. I don’t know where I’d be without you.
Like the Ramones? Don’t have any of their albums? Check them out here. I highly recommend you also check out their most excellent documentary, End of The Century: The Story Of The Ramones. You’re welcome!