Thursday, December 24, 2009

Hey, Ho! Christmas

Nineteen hundred seventy four. Year zero that marks the birth of rock and roll's bad seed -- punk -- by its forefathers: The Ramones.

Originally a trio from Forest Hills, New York, comprised of Douglas Colvin (Dee Dee) and John Cummings (Johnny) both on guitars and Jeffrey Hyman (Joey) on drums. The group later christened themselves with surnames of Ramone whom they have taken after Sir Paul McCartney's alias Paul Ramon.

Hyman had difficulties keeping pace with their tune's fast tempos while singing. This prompted their manager Thomas Erdelyi (Tommy) to sit on drums -- moving Hyman in front as the quartet's vocalist.

The Ramones at the onset was the record industry's undisputed bĂȘte noire. Not a single member was technically proficient with his instrument. As a group, they learned music as they played it. Their songs' lyrics were criticised as senseless; often touching on juvenile issues like boredom, alienation, and rejection. To top it all off, they sported a threatening image owing much to street alley hoodlums.

Despite the group's apparent limitations, a handful of people noticed the raw energy and dark twisted humor that came with their unembellished music. These sophisticated few understood Ramones' overall simplicity as the ultimate expression of rebellion.

Through uncompromising persistence, the group gained critical acclaim in the underground scene earning regular gigs at CBGB's and eventually striking a deal with Sire Records. The succession of favorable events helped establish Ramones as an upcoming band that played loud, fast, and catchy bubble gum tunes.

A typical Ramones live set or album were all blink-you-miss deals. Twenty songs in 25 minutes or less -- including gaps in between. Full speed ahead like thoroughbreds off from the starting gate. All with 3-4 barre chords of chainsaw guitar plus grinding bass and thundering drums clocking at an average of two minutes per song. Their music, in short, was similar to that of The Beach Boys when they run amok.

NYC's punk quartet have set themselves as models for rock bands of the future.  In the words of Spin magazine editor-in-chief Alan Light, "All the better-known punk groups that followed - The Sex Pistols, The Clash, whoever - would be the first one to say that without The Ramones, the whole punk movement never would have happened." The Ramones, without a shadow of doubt had reinvented rock and roll.

The new melodic noise was so infectious that even presidential daughter Amy Carter, who could not catch an actual show, had to contend with the group's sound check under the watchful eye of eight secret service agents.

What was once thought as threatening outlaw gang of four image has been finally accepted as radical fashion statement. Jim Bessman, author of the book Ramones An American Band, asserts "Black leather jackets, sneakers, frayed jeans, cartoon T-shirts, dark sunglasses. Over the next few years the Stones, Queen and even Billy Joel would steal their look".

Despite all the success and recognition, the band never reaped commercial rewards they have hoped for. Their legacy, however, forges ahead well into the 21st century, gaining more fans and inspiring new artists. A museum dedicated solely to the group sits at Germany's historic city of Berlin. The Ramones was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 2002.

In total: they logged 2,263 live performances, released 21 studio, live, and compilation albums over a tireless two decade stretch.The super group Ramones, in their own inventive primal way, administered rock and roll's successful shock treatment.


  Update 07 May 2010: Alternate site for the music video (low res)... Long live The Ramones!!!!

Images from top to bottom:
(1) The Ramones first self-titled album [L-R Cummings/Johnny, Erdelyi/Tommy, Hyman/Joey, Colvin/Dee-Dee]. LP cover from Mental Defective League.. Original Photo by Roberta Bayley.
(2) The Ramones Gabba-Gabba Hey group shot. Reshot, cropped and reprocessed from the book, Punk An A-Z by Barry Lazell p. 112 (Hamlyn, ISBN 0600586359). Original Photo by Ian Dickinson.
(3) The Ramones live performance group photo from Ickmusic [Front: L-R Johnny, Joey, Dee-Dee Back: Tommy]
(4) The Ramones car group photo from The Bacchanals. [L-R  Marky/Mark Bell, Dee-Dee, Johhny, Joey]
(5) The Ramones stairs group photo from Risky Business. [L-R Tommy, Dee-Dee, Johnny, Joey]
(6) The Ramones colored pose group photo from Untossed Coin. [L-R Dee-Dee, Marky/Mark Bell, Johhny, Joey].

(7) Ramones video from youtube by FKostas. Merry Christmas Baby (I Don't Want To Fight Tonight). ( Joey on vocals, Johhny on guitars, Marky on drums and C.J./ Christopher Joseph Ward on bass)  
(8) Alternate Ramones video from by elapetocho. Personnel same as above.

Cultchas crew will appreciate those who could help name original photographer/director/artist included in this post. All credit goes to them. Merry Christmas !!

1 comment:

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    Francisco Mela’s Cuban Safari

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