The Ramones: A Brief History and Their Locations

Posted on November 25, 2011 by peter bell

Out of the music doldrums of the mid-seventies, the Ramones came roaring out of the Forest Hills neighborhood of Queens, New York, to assert themselves as purveyors of a new sound called “punk rock.”  Formed at least partly as a reaction to the self-involved musicianship and obnoxious disco of the era, the Ramones style was like nothing else.  Loud, fast, repetitive, and concise, the Ramones music was filled with themes of dangerous topics: drug use, gay prostitution, alienation, broken families, anger, and more.  Their style was reflected in their stage presence, in their signature ripped jeans and leather jackets, and in the artwork that frequented their albums and T-shirts.

The Ramones formed in 1974 with the following line-up: Joey Ramone (vocals), Johnny Ramone (guitar), Dee Dee Ramone (bass), and Tommy Ramone (drums).  They had been listening to the Stooges, and would drive into the city to watch glam rock bands.  After seeing the New York Dolls, their musical approach began to foment.  Joey’s mother owned an art gallery off Queens Blvd where the Ramones practiced in the early days.  It was during this stage that they wrote “Judy is a Punk.”  Tommy recognized the potential of the music, and they recorded a demo at 914 Sound Studios.

The Ramones began to play in the city, specifically at CBGB, where they would play with bands like the Talking Heads and the Mekons.  Due to their completely distinct sound and stage show, they began to attract a following.  In a matter of time, they had attracted former manager of the Doors, Danny Fields, and had received a record contract from Sire Records.  In 1976, they recorded their first album at Plaza Sound in Radio City Music Hall in one week for $6,400.

Later that year, the band traveled to England to play a series of shows.  The results were profound.  The UK punk scene was inspired after seeing the Ramones, and a number of bands attribute motivation from those shows: the Clash, the Sex Pistols, and the Damned to name a few.

While the lineup changed a few times, the Ramones played together for 22 years, touring virtually non-stop.  They played their final (2,263rd) show on August 6th, 1996, at the Palace in Hollywood (now called the Avalon).  Their success was never commercial super-stardom, but their work has been integral to the evolution of rock music.  I remember seeing them on the Lollapalooza tour in 1996, and although the only album I had at the time was “Road to Ruin,” the set was incredible.  There was barely a chance to catch your breath between songs- just enough time to hear “1,2,3,4!”  I took it for granted that it was the last go-around for this incredible band, but I’m glad I got to see them.

On Dec. 11, 2000, Joey Ramone played his last show at the Continental in New York.  He had been suffering with lymphoma for many years, and on April 15th, 2001, Joey Ramone passed away at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.  He is buried in Hillside Cemetery in Lyndhurst, New Jersey.

Starting in the new millennium, the accolades for the Ramones started to roll in.  On March 18, 2002, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of fame at the Waldorf-Astoria.  Dee Dee Ramone died two months after that, and Johnny Ramone died in 2004- both are buried in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

On Nov. 30, 2003, the corner of East 2nd St and Bowery in NYC, near where CBGB used to be and where Joey and Dee Dee used to crash on artist Arturo Vega’s floor, was renamed Joey Ramone Place.  In Germany, there is a Ramones Museum Berlin.  What started out as four guys from Queens, turned out to change the sound of rock and roll.  Gabba gabba hey.

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