Black Leather Jackets - A Punk Rock Beginning Part 2: The Ramones

The Ramones or The Sex Pistols, which band was the godfather of Punk Rock? The age old question that music lovers have been arguing for the past 35 years. The boys in black leather jackets had both started in the mid 1970's and seemed to move an entire generation of young listeners. The Ramones seemed to revamp the meaning of rock and roll when the punk-rock quartet from Queens hit the music industry with their first, self-titled album in 1976.

The band was made up of four members. Jeff Hyman (Joey) was born May 19th, 1951, and grew up in Queens New York. Like many rockstars, he was Jewish. John Cummings (Johnny) was born October 8th, 1951. Like most young kids, he loved baseball, but had his dreams of becoming a professional cut short when he found out that you had to cut your hair in high school to be able to join the team. He decided to start a band with his friend Joey after a short time as a construction worker. Douglas Colvin (Dee Dee) was born on September 18th, 1952 in Berlin, Germany. He picked up a guitar at the age of 12 and fell in love with it.

the ramones

He moved to America when he was a teenager. He randomly met Johnny on the street and struck up a conversation about a band they were both interested in, the Stooges. The Ramones were starting to take shape. Finally Tommy Erdelyi was born on January 29th, 1952 in Budapest, Hungary. He was actually in a band with Johnny before Johnny even met Joey and Dee Dee. Their band was called Tangerine Puppets and both played the guitar. Unfortunately, that band ended when Johnny accidentally hit someone with his guitar and got them expelled from school. A short time later they would reunite to have called upon to Tommy play drums for the Ramones.

The band originally started with with Dee Dee singing and playing bass, Johnny on guitar, and Joey on drums. Unfortunately for the band, Dee Dee's voice wasn't able to keep up with the band, and was shot after only 2 songs. The band decided to try something new and kicked Joey up to vocals from the drums, and had their friend Tommy play drums. They were all amazed with Joey's voice, and his promotion seemed to stick as the vocal front man. Joey did however come up with the band's iconic "1-2-3-4" count off at the beginning of their songs.

Their songs were short and simple. They were known for doing 18 songs in a 20 minute set. Their first couple of gigs took place in CBGB's (Country Bluegrass and Blues), where owner Hilly Kristal wondered if these leather jacket wearing punks were musicians or there to rob the place. At first the band seemed unorganized, with Dee Dee counting off the "1-2-3-4" and members all starting to play different songs, or sometimes they would stop mid way thorough a song, argue and then continue the song. They would eventually sort out their stage presence and they began to put on some great shows.

the sex pistols

Their first album "Ramones" was released on April 26th, 1976. The first song "Blitzkrieg Bop" became an instant hit with the well known line "Hey, Ho, lets go!". They released three more albums: "Ramones Leave Home" (77), "Rocket to Russia" (77), and "Road to Ruin" (78). These four albums are now classics and many believe their best work. Unfortunately, during the making of "Road to Ruin", Tommy quit to pursue his career as a producer, and was replaced by Marky Ramone. Secondly, Joey liked to inhale hot steam from a tea kettle to clear his sinuses before performing. A novice roadie had made the mistake of heating a kettle far too much, and proceeded to pour boiling water down Joey's throat. Not all was lost though, as in the hospital, Joey was able to write the song "I Wanna Be Sedated".

The band had a unique sound and a very recognizable list of songs that were short, fast paced and full of energy. They took inspiration from comic books, horror films, girl groups and garage rock to bring a style mixing both humor and horror. This mash up of quick, edgy songs were what fans were looking for and the band started to gather a fan base in New York, L.A., London and eventually the world.

The Ramones would release 21 albums in 20 years, trying to stay true to 1 per year, but they will always be known for their first four. They performed 2,263 concerts (about the same amount as the "Grateful Dead") between 1976 and their final show on August 6, 1996.

Joey Ramone ended up passing away due to Lymphoma on April 15th, 2001 and a solo album he had been working on was released in early 2002. Dee Dee passed away in 2003 due to a drug overdose and Johnny followed in 2004 from cancer. They left a legacy behind, and are hailed by many as the first and best punk rock band.

On March 18,2002, the Ramones (including the three founders and drummers Marky and Tommy Ramone) were finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Tommy Ramone had put it best in their final album release, the "Hey Ho Let's Go!" compilation, by stating in the liner:

"This is art. Sometimes it doesn't sell at first. Sometimes it takes a while for the world to catch on."

  • Tommy Ramone

History seems to have proven him right, as the Ramones have been hailed as one of the most influential American bands. Their music reaches more ears today then ever.

If your looking to find some vintage looking black leather jackets, check out http://www.nomadsleathers.com

by Randel Palo; Sunday, April 24, 2011 @ 07:31 PM [2323]

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