Music / The Ramones
The original line-up of The Ramones. From left to right: Joey Ramone, Johnny Ramone, Dee Dee Ramone and Tommy Ramone.

"Well! It's good to be here on TV Tropes and it's good to see all of you again, take it, Dee Dee!"

The Ramones, an American rock band formed in 1974, are widely regarded as the first Punk Rock band, and could even be considered something of a turning point in rock history.

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. They've released a number of solo albums afterwards, the most notable of which is Joey Ramone's Don't Worry About Me.

The Ramones formed in Queens, New York City. The earliest incarnation of the band had Johnny Ramone (John Cummings) on guitar, Joey Ramone (Jeffry Ross Hyman) on drums and Dee Dee Ramone (Douglas Colvin) on vocals. When Dee Dee's young vocals proved unable to sustain live performances, they switched, with Dee Dee sticking to backup vocals and mostly concentrating on bass, and Joey assuming lead vocals. The band still needed a drummer, and after manager Thomas Erdelyi had trouble finding a proper drummer, he assumed the duties himself, dubbing himself Tommy Ramone.

The band debuted in 1974, playing at various clubs around NYC, most notably CBGB's, which became famous for being a showcase for the budding Punk Rock movement. They recorded their first album, Ramones, in 1976 on the low budget of $6400, and while the record wasn't a commercial smash or anything - in fact, at their first performance outside New York, in Youngstown, Ohio, about ten people showed up - it was a further catalyst for the punk scene and got glowing reviews from critics. They were further vindicated when they proved to be more popular in the UK, most notably influencing bands like the Sex Pistols and The Clash, and playing career defining gigs second-billed to the Flamin' Groovies.

Two further albums, Leave Home and Rocket To Russia, followed in 1977. While the former did even worse than the debut, Rocket To Russia was their best seller to date, hitting #49, and the single "Rockaway Beach" hit #66 - the highest charting single the band would ever have. By this time, Tommy stepped down as drummer for good, but remained friends with the band and would go on to produce for them. His replacement was Marc Bell, aka Marky Ramone, who recorded 1978's Road To Ruin with the band.

After the band made a guest appearance in Roger Corman's cult movie Rock 'n' Roll High School, the band got in touch with famous 1960s pop producer Phil Spector in 1980, to create an attempt at a breakthrough album, End Of The Century. The sessions were fraught with tension between the band (who were always the 'get in, get out' types) and Spector (a notoriously meticulous Control Freak). At one point in the recordings, Spector pulled a gun on Johnny and forced him to play the same riff over a hundred times. The sessions did pay off in an album that charted at #44, their highest charting album ever, but it's got a mixed reputation, among fans and the band itself, for presenting a slicker, poppier Ramones. Oddly enough, their cover of "Baby I Love You" did huge business in the UK.

The band soldiered on with a few more pop crossover attempts, with relationships in the band straining further. Most notably, around the early 80s, Johnny stole Joey's girlfriend, Linda, which Joey never got over for many years, and they rarely spoke to each other since. Despite this, the band never slowed down, still playing hundreds of concerts a year. Marky, who was abusing alcohol, got fired from the band and replaced with Richard Reinhardt/Richie Ramone, who debuted on the 1984 album Too Tough To Die, a more rock-oriented album featuring Tommy Ramone behind the boards alongside old school Ramones producer Ed Stasium.

Despite this, Animal Boy was one last grab at a pop crossover. Richie left in 1987 after the release of Halfway To Sanity, upset that he wasn't given a share of the t-shirt sales after years with the band. Luckily, Marky was newly sober, and returned to the band, just in time for longtime bassist and songwriter Dee Dee Ramone to leave the band in a miserable haze of addictions and an eating disorder. Dee Dee still continued to contribute songs to the band, however, but he embarked on an infamous series of odd career moves, including putting out rap music under the name Dee Dee King, and briefly performing with shock rocker GG Allin. Dee Dee was officially replaced by CJ Ramone, who the band later credited as giving the band youthful energy again.

The band reunited again with producer Ed Stasium and released Mondo Bizarro, which did huge in Brazil, but the band were embittered by this point of never breaking through in America. By 1995's ¡Adiós Amigos!, they declared they were hanging it up unless the album did huge numbers (again, it didn't), but nonetheless they embarked on the longest farewell tour in the history of rock & roll, going over two years and spawning two live albums. Their last show was in Los Angeles, in August of 1996, after which the band unceremoniously went their separate ways.

Joey passed away in 2001 from lymphoma, in New York. In early 2002, the band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, where Tommy mentioned in the midst of their speeches that while it meant a lot to them, it "meant everything to Joey." Two months after, Dee Dee Ramone was dead of a heroin overdose, and two years later, prostate cancer claimed the life of Johnny. In 2014, the last original member, Tommy, succumbed to bile duct cancer.

One of the more tragic aftereffects of the band, is that they're 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. Their legacy lives on through the enduring influence of their own music as well as punk rock itself, plus one of the most iconic logos in rock history. (You've seen the shirts.)

Principal Members (Founding members in bold):

  • Marc Bell (Marky Ramone) - drums (1978–1983, 1987–1996)
  • Clem Burke (Elvis Ramone) - drums (1987)
  • Douglas Colvin (Dee Dee Ramone) - bass, backing and lead vocals, guitar, synthesizer (1974-1989, died 2002)
  • John Cummings (Johnny Ramone) - guitar (1974-1996, died 2004)
  • Thomas Erdelyi (Tommy Ramone) - drums (1974-1978, died 2014)
  • Jeffery Hyman (Joey Ramone) - lead vocals, drums (1974-1996, died 2001)
  • Richard Reinhardt (Richie Ramone) - drums, backing and lead vocals (1983-1987)
  • Christopher Joseph Ward (C.J. Ramone) - bass, backing and lead vocals (1989–1996)

Studio Discography

  • 1976 - Ramones
  • 1977 - Leave Home
  • 1977 - Rocket To Russia
  • 1978 - Road To Ruin
  • 1980 - End Of The Century
  • 1981 - Pleasant Dreams
  • 1983 - Subterranean Jungle
  • 1984 - Too Tough To Die
  • 1986 - Animal Boy
  • 1987 - Halfway To Sanity
  • 1989 - Brain Drain
  • 1992 - Mondo Bizarro
  • 1994 - Acid Eaters (covers album)
  • 1995 - ¡Adiós Amigos!

Live Discography:

  • 1979 - It's Alive
  • 1991 - Loco Live
  • 1996 - Greatest Hits Live
  • 1997 - We're Outta Here! (documenting their final show)
  • 2001 - You Don't Come Close
  • 2003 - NYC 1978

"Hey ho! Let's trope! Hey ho! Let's trope!":

  • Album Title Drop: In "Do You Remember Rock 'N' Roll Radio" for End Of The Century.
    "It's the end, the end of the '70s
    It's the end, the end of the century."
  • Alliterative Name: Richie Ramone.
  • Alliterative Title: Road To Ruin, Rocket To Russia, Adios Amigos!
  • Angry Mob Song: "Blitzkrieg Bop." "HEY! HO! LET'S GO! HEY! HO! LET'S GO!"
  • Anti-Christmas Song: "Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)".
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking/Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: "I'm Against It" goes back and forth with these tropes, as Joey rejects politics, communists, games and fun, Jesus freaks, circus geeks, summer and spring, sex and drugs, waterbugs, playing ping pong, the Viet Cong, Burger King, anyone and anything.
  • Batter Up: Beat on the Brat is basically this trope's theme song.
    "Beat on the brat, beat on the brat, beat on the brat with a baseball bat, oh yeah!"
  • Big Applesauce: Played a major role in forming the New York punk scene, and many of their songs referenced different parts of New York City.
    • "53rd and 3rd".
    • "Oh Oh I Love Her So":
    "Then we went down to Coney Island."
    • "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker":
    "Well New York City really has it all oh yeah oh yeah."
    • "Rockaway Beach".
    • "We're A Happy Family":
    "Sittin here in Queens eating refried beans."
    • "I Just Want to Have Something to Do":
    "Hanging out on Second Avenue Eating chicken vindaloo."
    • "All's Quiet on the Eastern Front":
    "New York beauty take my breath away."
  • The Big Guy: At 6'6", Joey towered over every other member and most other musicians.
  • Black Comedy: The band always had some pretty dark songs, but "Beat On The Brat," "We're A Happy Family," "Teenage Lobotomy" and "Wart Hog" just wallow in this trope.
  • Broke the Rating Scale: Once, Beavis And Butthead watched the video for "I Wanna Be Sedated," and it is one of, if not the, only videos that actually got the boys to shut up and rock out for a change.
  • Brooklyn Rage: Unlike other NYC Bands, they were not from Manhattan but Forest Hills, Queens. The band's lyrics and stage demeanor fully exploit the New Yorkers' reputation for grumpiness.
  • Catch Phrase: ONETWOTHREEFOUR!; "HEY! HO! LET'S GO!"; "Gabba Gabba Hey!""
  • Control Freak: Johnny Ramone. Maybe not as notorious as Mike Love, but he was very much a disciplinarian, and very rigid about the band and their image. Even his widow, Linda, said he "always gets what he wants."
  • Cool Shades: Joey and Tommy. Joey's, coupled with the mane of hair framing his face, became iconic in their own right. Dee Dee began wearing them regularly in the 80s, as did Marky. In fact, Johnny was the only member of the band who never wore them.
  • Cover Version: The entirety of Acid Eaters consists of this. Further, the band covered their '60s 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" from Waits' Bone Machine. Other notable covers included:
    • "California Sun" (The Rivieras).
    • "Do You Wanna Dance?" (Bobby Freeman).
    • "Needles and Pins" (The Searchers).
    • "Surfin' Bird" (Trashmen).
    • "Substitute" (The Who).
    • "Any Way You Want It" (Dave Clark Five)
    • "7 and 7 Is" (Love)
    • "Take It As It Comes" (The Doors).
    • ... And two of their most unusual covers, the theme for the 1960s Spider-Man cartoon, and Motörhead'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.
  • Darker and Edgier: The albums that Richie Ramone performed on (Too Tough to Die, Animal Boy and Halfway to Sanity) are much heavier musically than the band's earlier albums, and featured songs with some pretty dark lyrics.
  • 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.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: A large portion of their songs consist of only a few lines or stanzas repeated over and over. Particularly noticeable in "Daytime Dilemma (Dangers of Love):
    She came from a happy home
    A very happy home
    A home of happiness
  • Don't Touch It, You Idiot!: "You Should Never Have Opened That Door."
  • 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.
  • Dysfunction Junction: And fucking how. They could be a runner-up of how screwed up everyone was with X Japan! While on stage, the Ramones had the unity of brothers and the like, off stage, fights would happen back and forth and Joey and Johnny would be at each others throats. The fact they stayed together for 22 years is a miracle and even then the Downer Ending over how unappreciated the band was until after Joey passed away makes it more depressing. And that's not even going into the later deaths of Dee Dee, Johnny, and Tommy.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Many Ramones songs are straightforward to a fault. Just a few examples:
    • "I Don't Wanna Go Down to the Basement" is about not wanting to go down to the basement.
    • "Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue" is about wanting to sniff glue.
    • "I Don't Care" is about not caring about stuff (specifically, "this world" and "that girl").
  • Filk Song: They had a few.
    • "Chain Saw" was based on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
    • "Pinhead" was based on the movie Freaks, with the "Gabba Gabba Hey!" chant being an adaptation of the "Gooboo Gabba Gooboo Gabba we accept you we accept you one of us" chant from the film.
    • "Pet Sematary", which was written for the film.
  • Foreshadowing Joey's first line in "I Believe in Miracles" is "I used to be on an endless run. Believe in miracles 'cause I'm one.". Years later, U2 would release a song called "The Miracle of Joey Ramone".
  • Four-Philosophy Ensemble: Johnny was the Cynic, Dee Dee was the Optimist, Joey was the Apathetic and Marky is the Realist.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble:
    • Johnny (Supine) - stubborn, domineering, short-tempered and intense
    • Joey (Supine) - moody, argumentative, insecure and stubborn
    • Dee Dee (Supine) - impulsive, unstable, self-destructive and wacky
    • Marky (Melancholic) - reserved, snarky, moody, and anxious
  • Grief Song: "The KKK Took My Baby Away".
  • Hates Everyone Equally: The aforementioned "I'm Against It."
  • Harsh Vocals: Richie Ramone sings exlusively in this style in his solo material. It could probably best be described as "Joey Ramone meets Henry Rollins".
  • Heavy Meta: "Rock and Roll High School" and "Rock and Roll Radio".
  • Hidden Track: Some editions of Loco Live have "Carbona Not Glue" unlisted in the tracklist. For legal reasons of course: "Carbona Not Glue" was originally deleted from the album Leave Home because of a potential lawsuit, as Carbona is a trademarked brand of cleaning solvent.
  • Iconic Outfit: the biker jackets, as pictured above (In some languages, they're mostly known as "Ramones jackets") with ripped-at-the-knees jeans and sneakers, preferably either Chuck Taylors or Keds (at the time, both still American brands).
  • 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.
  • Lack of Empathy: "I Don't Care" is like this trope's theme song.
  • Large and in Charge: Joey Ramone was the leader of the band and stood at 6'5.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Their stage attire varied even less than their music. Total costume changes were first Tommy/Marky/Ritchie, then Johnny & Dee Dee/CJ, taking off the jackets.
  • List Song: "I'm Against It", mentioned above.
  • Lyrical Cold Open: "Outsider."
  • Miniscule Rocking: Of course. The first album packs 14 songs into barely 29 minutes.
  • Mohs Scale of Lyrical Hardness: Their most dark-humored stuff can reach 8, but stuff like "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" can go as low as 2.
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: 4-6, with their softest songs being a 3 and their heaviest songs being a 7.
  • The Movie: Rock 'n' Roll High School.
  • Music of Note: Allmusic credits them as the first punk rock band, and their minimalist approach is staggeringly influential.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: When Clem Burke from Blondie joined the band, they dubbed him "Elvis Ramone." Unfortunately, he only lasted a pair of shows before they decided he couldn't keep up.
  • Ode to Intoxication: "I Wanna Be Sedated."
  • Older Than He Looks: Johnny Ramone barely aged a day between the 70s and the early 00s
  • Pop Punk: Trope Maker.
  • Power Ballad: "Poison Heart".
  • Precision F-Strike: "Censorshit." A strong title from a band who weren't usually profane. Unsurprisingly, it's a pretty direct Take That! at Tipper Gore.
  • Professional Wrestling: "The Crusher", which originated on Dee Dee's rap album. The band re-recorded it for their last studio album, ¡Adiós Amigos!, with different lyrics.
  • Protest Song: "My Brain is Hanging Upside Down (Bonzo Goes to Bitburg)", an anti-Ronald Reagan song that Republican Johnny Ramone hated.
    • "We Want the Airwaves" is about radio owned by corporations not airing rock music any more.
  • Punk Rock: One of the bands that defined its ethos.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Deconstructed. They were a mess for most of their existence, and despised each other and were profoundly miserable at times.
  • Refrain from Assuming: "Blitzkrieg Bop" is not "Hey Ho Let's Go".
  • Sanity Slippage Song: "Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment", "Psycho Therapy" and "I Wanna Be Sedated," to name a few.
  • Sequel Song: "The Return of Jackie and Judy," for one.
    • "Carbona Not Glue" may be considered a sequel to "Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue".
  • Serious Business: By many accounts, perennial Control Freak Johnny treated the band as such. Even the band's attire was this - he once blew up at CJ backstage just for taking off his shirt during a set.
  • Shout-Out: The name Ramone was one, taken from "Paul Ramon", the pseudonym Paul McCartney used to check into hotels during The Beatles' touring days.
    • John Cusack's character Jake Anderson is wearing a Ramones T-shirt in a scene from Must Love Dogs.
    • And one Teenage Bottlerocket song has the singer giving a girl his Ramones sweatshirt.
    • Also, one of Sylar's victims in Heroes wore a Ramones T-shirt — which Sylar later wears to pass off as the guy just before Mohinder comes to pay him a visit.
    • Within the Ramones' music itself, "Judy Is A Punk" references "I'm Henry VIII, I Am" by Herman's Hermits, of all songs. "Second verse, same as the first!!"
  • Singer Namedrop: "The Return of Jackie and Judy":
    "Jackie is a bookie, Judy's taking loans
    They both came up to New York
    Just to see the Ramones!"
  • Single Stanza Song: They were quite partial to this one. Examples include "I Don't Wanna Walk Around With You," "Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue," "Listen To My Heart," "It's A Long Way Back."
  • Something Something Leonard Bernstein: You'll get this all over their discography, but the debut is especially bad for this. Joey was never really the best at enunciating, and his New York accent didn't help. (That's nothing, you should hear Dee Dee sing!) Of course, generations of punk rockers on both sides of the pond followed suit.
  • Spelling Song: Motörhead wrote one about the band, "R-A-M-O-N-E-S". The band later did a Cover Version themselves.
  • Stage Names: Taken by all of the group's members. None of them are related.
  • Studio Chatter: Usually this just consists of Dee Dee counting in songs in his distinctive way. However, "Danger Zone" has a little bit more than that:
    Dee Dee: Which song are we doin'?
    Johnny: "Danger Zone"!
    Dee Dee: Oh, ready? note  One-two-three-four!
  • Subdued Section: "Blitzkrieg Bop" of course.
  • Step Up to the Microphone: The song "Wart Hog", arguably the Trope Maker if not Ur-Example of the "passionate and barely comprehensible screaming" variant of Hardcore Punk, is sun- er, performed by bassist Dee Dee Ramone.
    • Ever since Subterranean Jungle and the song "Time Bomb," the band made a point to invoke this. Dee Dee averaged a couple songs on each album until he left the band, and then the tradition was passed onto CJ.
  • Sunglasses at Night: Joey Ramone's sunglasses seemed to actually be part of his face since it was incredibly rare that he'd take them off.
  • Take That!: To a lot of Album-Oriented, Progressive, baroque, guitar-solo filled music that dominated most of The '70s.
    • "Censorshit" is one to Moral Guardians (specifically calling out Tipper Gore by name), saying they're suppressing free speech and should focus on more important problems instead.
  • Teenage Death Songs: "7-11," "53rd & 3rd."
  • Title Track: Too Tough To Die and Animal Boy both had these.
  • 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.
  • Three Chords and the Truth: A borderline Trope Codifier. Almost every song was this trope - sometimes, two chords. Which could be attributed to Johnny Ramone's hatred of guitar solos. They were originally started because they "had gotten bored with everything else" and described '70 rock as overextended jams.
  • Title Only Chorus: Quite a few songs with this trope... such as "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker", "Rock n' Roll High School", "Somebody Put Something In My Drink", "Mama's Boy", "I'm Affected" and so on.
  • Today, X. Tomorrow, the World!: "Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World."
  • Trope Codifier: Punk Rock, at least the musical aspect. There were bands like The Stooges and MC5 laying the seeds, sure, but the blueprint for punk was basically drawn by the Ramones.
  • Truck Driver's Gear Change: "I Wanna Be Sedated", "The KKK Took My Baby Away", "Danny Says."
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Joey and Johnny Ramone — the two were polar opposites politically and philosophically, Johnny's fascination 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, and ultimately married her (which inspired Joey to write "The KKK Took My Baby Away", as a veiled Take That! towards Johnny). Nonetheless, the two remained professionally inseparable, and when Joey died in 2001 Johnny was reportedly devastated and entered a prolonged depression.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Joey adopted something of a British accent on earlier albums, which he dropped by the 80s.
  • Wild Teen Party: In the video for "I Wanna Be Sedated."
  • 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.
  • invokedWhat Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs? — dramatically inverted in "Wart Hog" Not only were the ranting, Poe's Law inducing lyrics the product of a very bad trip according to Word of God, the song explicitly mentions this fact. Twice. In separate verses. One verse contains the lines:
    I wanna puke, I can't sit still
    Just took some dope and I feel ill.