It has been 20 years since the foursome that inspired me to check out bands like Agent Orange, M.I.A. and Minor Threat disbanded. Since then the four original Ramones, Joey on vocals, Johnny on guitar, Dee Dee on bass and Tommy on drums (that’s Marky in the picture above) were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002 and unfortunately, have all passed away. They will always hold a special place in my heart, easily one of my Top Ten Favorite Bands of Ever.
How many times did I see them play live? I honestly can’t remember and what stinks is I know I don’t have every ticket stub in my possession. There were some rough moments; the “Escape From New York” Tour at Mesa Amphitheatre and the last show I saw at Party Gardens are two examples, but the majority of the time such as the 1984 Palace West show with Black Flag opening in support of the Too Tough to Die album they were RIDICULOUS live. The Ramones possessed a raw fury onstage that so many of today’s punk rock posers can only wish to replicate. Check out their 1979 album It’s Alive, a disc recorded on December 31, 1977 at The Rainbow Theatre in London to hear what I mean. Easily one of the best live recordings on vinyl I am lucky enough to possess.
The Ramones introduced me to a whole new world of exciting music. They were raw and played their simple, short songs at a blistering pace. However, they infused their songs with such a heavy dose of pop hooks that “bubblegum pop” was as accurate a description as “punk rock.” They were punk without the hardcore, focusing instead on the melody and the fun. To me that was the key, I had a great time every time I saw them play, even the shows toward the end of their career when I felt they were playing too fast to try to satisfy the 90’s punk crowd fascinated with what they were hearing on the radio from other bands like The Offspring and Green Day. I am so grateful I saw them tear it up many times and still fondly play their records today.
Tough to pick just 25, here we go!