The Ramones were popularly known for starting punk rock in the music industry. The band did not become much successful but it had been one of the greatest musical influences in the United States and United Kingdom during the 1970s.
The Ramones’ Origins
John Cummings and Thomas Erdelyi were members of the band called the Tangerine Puppets before they met Douglas Colvin and Jeffrey Hyman, the lead singer of the band Sniper. In 1974, Hyman joined Cummings and Colvin in their band. Colvin was the lead vocals; Cummings was the lead guitarist while Hyman served as the band’s drummer. Inspired by Paul McCartney’s pseudonym, Paul Ramon, Colvin started using the name Dee Dee Ramone. Hyman and Cummings followed suit and chose Joey and Johnny Ramone as their pseudonyms.
Monte A. Melnick who would eventually become the band’s tour manager, helped the band rehearse at Manhattan’s Performance Studios. Erdelyi, on the other hand, would become the band’s manager. When Joey replaced Dee as the band’s lead singer, they had auditions for a new drummer since Joey could not sing and play the drums simultaneously. Erdelyi oversaw the auditions and usually demonstrated how the drums should be played to the people who auditioned. Because he clearly had the skills to play with the band, Erdelyi became the band’s new drummer, adapting the name Tommy Ramone.
The Ramones’ Music Career
The band’s first performance happened on March 30, 1974. Most of the song they played were fast and just a little under two minutes. They also played on one of Manhattan’s most popular music scene, the CBGB, on August 16, 1974. After their performance, the band made regular appearances at the club for the rest of the year. The next thing that they did was to sign a contract with Seymour Stein of Sire Records in 1975. It was the start of the band’s popularity for making “punk” music.
The band’s first album was Ramones, which was released in 1976. Most of the song were written by Dee Dee. The same month that the band’s album was released, Punk magazine also published an edition with a cover story about the Ramones.
Although the album received positive reviews, it only reached the 111th spot on the Billboard album chart. Even at their first performance outside New York, a mere number of ten people watched them perform. They only started to gain popularity when they went to England and performed at the Roundhouse in London in July 1976. The band’s appearance at Roundhouse fueled the punk rock scene in UK. The band even performed with the Flamin’ Grooves at the Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles afterwards.
The Leave Home album was less successful than the first one but the song Pinhead grew to be the band’s more popular songs. The album Rocket to Russia, on the other hand, reached the 49th place in the Billboard 200. It also included the songs Sheena Is a Punk Rocker and Rockaway Beach which managed to enter the Billboard charts.
In 1978, Tommy retired as drummer and started working as the band’s record producer. He was replaced by Marc Bell who took the name Marky Ramone. The band’s first album with Marky as the drummer was Road to Ruin. It would not reach the Billboard charts but the song I Wanna Be Sedated would become one of the band’s more popular hits.
The album End of the Century became the Ramones’ highest charting album though Johnny though that it represented a toned-down version of themselves. The song Baby, I Love You reached the number 8 spot in Great Britain’s music charts.
The Ramones’ sixth album was Pleasant Dreams which came out in 1981. It presented music that continued to diverge from the original raw punk sound that the band initially made.
Subterranean Jungle was the band’s last album to reach the Billboard Top 100. It was also re-released in 2002 with seven additional tracks. After the release of the album, Marky was fired from the band and replaced by Richie Ramone (Richie Reinhardt). Richie was highly commended by Johnny in bringing a new kind of vitality to the band.
The album Too Tough to Die was the first to be released with Richie.
The song Bonzo Goes to Bitburg from the album Animal Boy became popular in 1985 while the album received positive reviews from various critics.
Halfway to Sanity was the last album with Richie as drummer. He was replaced by Clem Burke from Blondie. However, he was fired after just performances and Marky came back with full recovery from alcoholism.
While recording Brain Drain, Dee Dee retired from the band and his place was taken over by Christopher Joseph Ward who would be known as C.J. Ramone. And in 1995, the band’s last album, ¡Adios Amigos! was released. The band disbanded but continued to make appearances on various music festivals like the Lollapalooza. They made one final performance at the Palace in Hollywood, in 1996.