All the Ramones are dead but The Ramones will never die. Drummer Tom Erdelyi a/k/a Tommy Ramone died at the age of 65 from Bile-Duct cancer. “Now I Want To Sniff Some Glue.”
The seminal band of misfits who grew up as fictional brothers in New York’s Bowery district and invented punk rock by gigging at joints like CBGBs have all passed away. The band who toured incessantly for over 20 years have now all passed less than two decades after their last show. “I Wanna Be Sedated.”
Never has a band with less talent made more impact. Adopting the surname from Paul McCartney, who used it to go undetected in hotels, The Ramones are hailed as the forbearers of the Punk movement in the late 1970s. They remain all that was heroic about being Punk and inspired dozens of bands like The Clash and hordes of British acolytes. “Sheena Is A Punk Rocker,” and so are all of us.
My college suitemate Jim would literally crank it to 11 and bang his head to the staccato beats that emerged from the only band that never seemed to actually leave the garage. One had to scream the lyrics because you couldn’t just sing them. “Do You Wanna Dance?’
But it wasn’t just college roomies who were inspired by the ripped jean “masters of minimalism” as no less a Rock god as Kurt Cobain said all he ever aspired to was to play in a band like the Ramones. “Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World.”
Their songs were never complicated and rarely longer than 3 minutes in an era of overwrought pretentiousness when songs lasted an entire album side (that’s 25 plus minutes for our younger readers). Their short songs were consistent with their humble presence. Rarely would you hear a complete sentence out of anyone of them however, clearly inside they were pure geniuses whose humility was remarkable in the world of mega stars like Elton John. “I’m Not Jesus.”
‘Do You Remember Rock And Roll Radio?” The Ramones were the middle finger to an art form that was starting to stale. Over production from the “R.A.M.O.N.E.S.?” They barely even knew how to play their instruments. An early review called the band the ‘worst of New York bands.” To the four brothers from different mothers that was music to their ears. They literally gave us an aural “Teenage Lobotomy.”
But Hey Ho Let’s Go! They are still heard everywhere from the speakers in major sporting events to the dozens of bands that consider them their inspiration. They have given us “Something To Believe In-” the power of unadulterated, carefree assault on pomposity all with a raging back beat. I guess you’d say they were “Blitzkrieg Bop.”
Hard to believe all four have left us with not one of them making it into their seventies. The members of the band, who Spin Magazine lists as one of the seven best bands of all-time are no longer with us. But they also will never leave us. They changed music simply by reminding us what rock and roll was meant to be. They took us all to “Rock And Roll High School” where they completely changed the curriculum. I’m pretty certain that the desert island that everyone always refers to being stranded on with only a few songs is called “Rockaway Beach.”
Long Live The Ramones.