Rock Blog: The Ramones Turn 40

September 6, 2016

It would be reasonable to say that Punk Rock began in earnest in Tacoma when the amazing Sonics released “The Witch” in 1964. But the genre's roots in America began as a true musical art form in the 70s and early 80s. 


It was very different city to city. Los Angeles had The Germs and X,  DC had Bad Brains, Minneapolis had Husker Du, Boston had Minor Threat and in Seattle it was ZEKE and Green River. But as the story goes, Punk Rock truly lit its rocket boosters in the mid 70s in London with The Clash and the Sex Pistols, and in New York City with The Ramones. 


I was lucky to be a kid growing up in New York City in the 70s, graduating from Grateful Dead High and going straight into Ramones University. Lucky because I got to see them in tiny, nasty, rat-hole clubs in their early years. And yes, it was the stuff of legend.


A lot of bands broke out of this New York scene - Blondie, Television, The Plasmatics, Richard Hell and Patti Smith, to name a few - but I have always thought The Ramones were the band that truly represented the filth of the 1970s New York City (AKA, the Rotten Apple). This city was in its worst crime and financial state perhaps ever, and the leather and denim-packaged three chords of fury that The Ramones brought seemed to be so right. Everything about them looked miserable, angry and they just didn't give an S.


Seeing the original four Ramones perform back then was intense. Four guys, three instruments and maybe 30 songs that they would knock out in an hour. Each song started with a battle cry of “1,2,3,4,” and they did little to entertain and engage the audience between songs. All of this may have made them the most efficient band of their time.

Make no mistake, unlike The Clash, they never had much of a message. They took on a form of heavy guitar pop music, but they were fun as hell. Amazingly, that was 40 years ago, and this anniversary is being celebrated by a monumental re-release of their first album. The Ramones 40th Anniversary is due out September 9th. 


In any form you can, get this album. Drive around with the windows down and blast that thing. The Ramones impacted every band from Pearl Jam to The Misfits, Metallica to Kiss, Green Day and countless others. 


Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy (none were related or had Ramone on their birth certificate) have all passed on to the great CBGB in the sky (hopefully a stinky club, not a beer and burger joint). This makes me sad. They were awesome. They were iconic and represented NYC the way The Dead represented San Francisco and Nirvana represents Seattle. But like these bands, they were original, unique and intense. A true part of Rock and Roll history. 


Praise the Ramones. Gabba Gabba Hey. 


Preorder the 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition here.


- Sergeant Hairclub