I don’t know life without the Ramones. Despite breaking up the year I was born, there was never a time in my life without the Ramones. Out of all of my parents music, for some reason the Ramones were my favourite; the band I actually regularly listened to on my own accord when I got old enough, instead of hearing it whenever Dad played it. I recently read that it’s been 40 years since the release of their first album, Ramone. So I thought I’d tell you a little bit about me and the Ramones.
When I was about 10, I had my first Ramones t-shirt. It was red and had their logo on it. I wore it one day to the beach with a group of family friends, and one of the dads, being a bit cheeky and probably assuming I couldn’t answer, asked me to name a Ramones song. I said Bonzo Goes to Bitburg, which not only was he probably not expecting an answer, he definitely was not expecting that song to be the answer. My Dad was very proud.
I recently purchased a copy of their very first album on vinyl, which I have never listened to all the way through. One of my favourite things about their style of punk, particularly in their early days, is the likeness to early 50s rock ‘n’ roll and 60s beat pop, which I discovered in my late teens. In that first album they even do the “second verse, same as the first” pulled straight from songs King Henry the VII by Hermans Hermits, of which I am a huge fan, and apparently so was Joey Ramones. They use similar sorts of harmonies and backing vocals; maybe that’s why I love 50s rock ‘n’ roll and 60s beat, because of it’s similarities to the Ramones.
In 2014 on holiday to Berlin, we visited the Ramones cafe and museum, which was très exciting. Apparently a German guy who lived in Berlin collected a bunch of Ramones paraphernalia so he opened a museum with a cafe. It was a really cool, cozy little cafe with really great hot chocolate. It was only a few euros to get in and you got a badge which was a lifetimes entry, so when I go back I don’t have to pay again!
Then in 2015 I saw CJ Ramone, the last bass player to play with the Ramones in the late 80s and early 90s, at this dingy little pub/music venue in a hipster part of Melbourne with my Dad. And it was one of the best gigs I ever went to. I may have brought down the average age a bit, and the tallest dude in the place had to stand right in front of me, but in my head I just kept going “oh my God, that’s a Ramone!”. Sometimes you forget that some of them are even still alive, because most of them are not.
They didn’t have particularly complicated songs (though they often played ridiculously tight and fast, which is something), and in the early days they didn’t sing about much, yet they took the punk world by storm. And here we are now, 40 years since the release of their first album, with all the original members passed on, and a little 19 year old girl from Australia lights up when she hears them mentioned, sees their logo or hears their music. They’ve come a long way, I must say.