The chances are, whether you’ve actually listened to The Ramones or not, you’ll at the very least have heard of them. This owes in part to the fact that their logo has been duplicated on articles of clothing in high street shops and bought because it was deemed cool or trendy. Many celebrities have endorsed The Ramones in this way and the extent to which they were fans could certainly give rise to doubts in some cases! Nevertheless, those of us that know The Ramones are deserving of their fame and legacy not for having good branding, but for being an immensely powerful musical juggernaut, especially live and influencing countless great bands long after they stopped performing and recording.
Paul Miles from Select Recording Studios says “Capturing the raw, vital energy of their live performances on disc was perhaps the hardest thing for the band.” Anyone lucky enough to have to attend any gigs when The Ramones were at the peak of their powers should feel incredibly fortunate, such is the legend that surrounds those hallowed dates.
One such date was at the London Roundhouse, 4th July 1976. This is widely seen as the very night that punk seeped out from the underground and into the public consciousness in England’s capital.
Hailing from The New York borough of Queens, The Ramones released their self-titled album, opening with the ubiquitous ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ complete with exhilarating ‘Hey ho! Let’s go!’ line in May of 1976 and to say that it changed the world of music is no hyperbole. The key to the best punk music was to pare everything down, removing all superfluous elements and only leaving the pure essence of energy. Of course, this owed perhaps as much to a lack of talent (at times), but nobody can deny how effective and infectious it was when done well. The Ramones were undoubtedly among the best at getting the most out of relatively few ingredients.
The Ramones eventually grew tired of the ‘punk’ label and the truth is that while they were a massive influence on the scene, like so many of the greats that followed, like Magazine, The Adverts or Joy Division, they were always a little bit more than just a punk band. This is in part owing to the time in which they formed. Punk was still just an idea and The Ramones drew on bands like the MC5, Sabbath and The Stooges, giving their sound added depth compared to some of what followed.
In terms of their influence on later bands, there is no overstating the legacy of The Ramones. These young men from Forest Hills (where there is now a street named The Ramones Way) had a profound impact on so many important bands. It is highly unlikely that the likes of Nirvana, Poison Idea or The Clash would have existed without The Ramones and stepping further away from rock and punk, The Beastie Boys, who sampled The Ramones on ‘High Plains Drifter,’ were massive fans of the Queens band. Without The Ramones, punk would have looked very, very different and much of what followed may not have. That is some legacy.