The original line-up of The Ramones. From left to right: Joey Ramone, Johnny Ramone, Dee Dee Ramone and Tommy Ramone.
"Hey, ho! Let's go!"
1-2-3-4! The Ramones, an American rock band first formed in 1974, are widely regarded as the first Punk Rock band.Their influence on the Punk Rock movement was musical rather than political. While the Sex Pistols or The Clash's lyrics focused on sticking it to the man, The Ramones preferred to talk about common juvenile themes, like love, drugs, alienation and cheap horror movies. In contrast to the luxuriant symphonic rock that was dominant at the time, they wrote very simple, very fast songs. Their other schtick was to adopt pseudonyms; all the various members of the band went by "[First Name] Ramone" even though none of them were related, and (for that matter) none of them had that surname in real life. While their influence on rock music is widespread (one magazine ranked them the second-greatest band ever, behind only The Beatles), their records never sold well and they toiled on in relative obscurity for many years before finally giving up the ghost in 1996.In an all too bittersweet way, the band are now arguably far more famous and are given more credit now than when they ever were performing, and after all of the founding members have died.
Principal Members (Founding members in bold):
Marc Bell (Marky Ramone) - drums (1978–1983, 1987–1996)
Cover Version: The entirety of Acid Eaters consists of this. Further, the band covered their 60's pop influences throughout their career. On their very first album, otherwise all original material, the boys included a cover of "Let's Dance" (Chris Montez), and their last album started with Tom Waits' "I Don't Want to Grow Up". Other notable covers included:
"California Sun" (The Rivieras)
"Do You Wanna Dance?" (Bobby Freeman)
"Needles and Pins" (The Searchers)
"Surfin' Bird" (Trashmen)
... and two of their most unusual covers, the theme for the 1960s Spider-Man cartoon, and Motorhead's tribute song to the Forest Hill Four themselves, "R.A.M.O.N.E.S."
Dark and Troubled Past: Dee Dee's life is littered with hard drugs, abusive relationships and even male prostitution.
Dead Artists Are Better: They kept touring and recording relentlessly, but never got much wealth or recognition for it... until they disbanded and the first four members had died.
Downer Ending: On so many levels. From all accounts, Joey and Johnny never did resolve their differences. The band never did achieve the big hits they were chasing for 20 years. The band were thoroughly dissatisfied with how their last show came off. Joey succumbed to lymphoma in 2001, Dee Dee died of a heroin overdose just over a year later, and Johnny died in 2004 from prostate cancer. The band's first drummer and the last surviving original member, Tommy Ramone lived for several years after his former bandmates, but subsequently died of bile duct cancer in 2014.
Heavy Meta: "Rock and Roll High School" and "Rock and Roll Radio"
Instrumentals: "Durango 95", their only song without any vocals. After its release in 1984, it became their traditional concert opener, prefaced with a recording of the theme from The Good The Bad And The Ugly.
Irony: They will always be associated with New York, but their last concert was in California.
It Is Pronounced Tro PAY: Sometimes Joey enunciates words in rather nonstandard ways. For example, in "I Don't Wanna Go Down to the Basement," he manages to say "basement" in one syllable: "bas'm." In "Texas Chainsaw Massacre," he pronounces "Massacre" with a long e sound.
"I Want" Song: Many songs contain the phrase "I Wanna" or "I Don't Wanna". A collection of them have been gathered and parodied here◊.
Examples in the titles include "I Wanna Be Sedated", "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend", "Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue", "I Don't Wanna Go Down To The Basement", "I Don't Wanna Walk Around With You", "I Don't Wanna Be Learned/I Don't Wanna Be Tamed", "Now I Wanna Be A Good Boy", "I Wanna Be Well" "I Wanna Live".
Partial Exceptions: "I Just Want To Have Something To Do", "I Wanted Everything", "I Don't Want You", "I Want You Around", "We Want The Airwaves".
Occasionally, as noted in the covers above, they would ask "Do YOU Wanna Dance?"
These also appear within the lyrics, for example, in "Pet Sematary":
I don't wanna be buried In a pet sematary I don't want to live my life again
Those Wacky Nazis: Johnny Ramone had something of a fascination for Nazism and Nazi imagery, so lyrics mentioning or discussing Nazism pop up from time to time. This is probably most famously seen in "Blitzkrieg Bop", arguably the band's Signature Song, but more explicitly in songs like "Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World", which uses the lyrics "I'm a Nazi schatze, y'know I fight for the fatherland." The lyrics were originally going to repeatedly state "I'm a Nazi, baby" until the president of the record label told the band to change them.
Vitriolic Best Buds: Joey and Johnny Ramone- the two were polar opposites politically and philosophically, Johnny's facination with Nazism led to endless anti-Semitic jokes at Joey's expense, Joey constantly vetoed Johnny's edgier songs, and the two ultimately stopped speaking to each other after Johnny stole Joey's girlfriend (the inspiration for "The KKK Took My Baby Away"), and ultimately married her. Nonetheless, the two remained professionally inseparable, and when Joey died in 2001 Johnny was reportedly devastated and entered a prolonged depression.
Word Salad Lyrics: Typically the songs make some general sense, but sometimes there's some... odd insertions (like the whole "Do you like bananas?" bit on "This Ain't Havana").
Could be a reference to "Havana Affair" from their first album.
PT-boat on the way to Havana I used to make a living, man Pickin' the banana