As you may have heard that Tommy Ramone (Tom Erdelyi), passed away yesterday. He was the last surviving original member of the band, with them for their first three LPs. If you weren't around when the Ramones first appeared, it's hard to put into words what a game changer they were. From my own personal experience, I can tell you this: it was on a drive home from seeing the Ramones (and Blondie), at the Whisky in Hollywood, that my whole outlook about music, and peer pressure, changed forever. Crammed into the backseat of an overstuffed car, my mind was reeling trying to process what I had just seen. While the friends I was with were astute music freaks, most of my other friends were less enlightened, thoroughly locked in to what is now referred to as classic rock. I wondered what they would think when I told them about what I'd seen, and as excited as I was, I sensed that they would have nothing but disdain for short, solo-less, three chord, two and a half minute songs. It was at that particular moment that I realized for the first time in my life, I didn't have to care what they thought about what I liked. Extrapolating, I didn't have to care what anybody thought about what I liked. Or what I did, or what I said. I was freed.
If you don't own the LP above, you have been identified as a replicant. Click here to listen to it.
What the Ramones did was simple. They stripped things down, They simplified things to the point that they essentially started things over from scratch. All of the bullshit in rock 'n' roll was discarded, and re-presented in it's most basic elements. In doing so, they changed the whole dynamic. The first LP was recorded in a week, for $6,400. Despite it's influence among a select group (punk rockers), airplay was not forthcoming. How do you play the Ramones back-to-back with someone like Peter Frampton? Or Queen? Or Lynyrd Skynyrd? You don't. (Just take a look at the Billboard charts from 1976. Yeesh.) In fact, it wasn't until April of this year that their first LP was certified gold. It took thirty eight years for the LP to sell 500,000 copies. Considering that many of the units sold could have been second or third purchases by people who had worn their original copies out over the span of thirty eight years (I'm on my third), it's almost inconceivable that there have been that few people who get it.
Here's a smattering of stuff from the original four members. If you haven't heard the first LP in its entirety, I suggest you stream the YouTube link, loud. If you already have a bunch of the Ramones, check the 1975 demos, produced by Erdelyi. If you never saw them live, check the 1977 live video above. If you want to have your heart melted, check the young Korean students singing "Judy Is a Punk". If you want their complete story, just do a web search. There's a ton out there. A thumbnail won't cut it. I guess this is really just to acknowledge a personal debt and to publicly thank them. Long live the Ramones.
~ NOTE: ALL MEDIA IS HOSTED BY THE BLOGS & SITES NAMED BELOW ~Listen:
The Ramones - Blitzkreig Bop mp3 at I Dream of Jimmy
The Ramones - Chain Saw mp3 at ATumblr (?)
The Ramones - I Just Wanna Have Something to Do mp3 at 8106
The Ramones - Do You Wanna Dance mp3 at 8106
The Ramones - California Sun mp3 at ATumblr (?)
The Ramones - I Wanna Be Sedated mp3 at Want You Bad
The Ramones - Judy Is a Punk mp3 at ATumlr (?)
The Ramones - Sheena is a Punk Rocker mp3 at The Mad Makerel
1975 Demos, produced by Tom Erdelyi:
Note: Direct linking may be disabled. If so, go there to get them.
The Ramones - I Dont Wanna Go Down To The Basement (demo) at 7 Inch Punk
The Ramones - 53rd & 3rd (demo) mp3 at 7 Inch Punk
The Ramones - I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend (demo) mp3 at 7 Inch Punk
The Ramones - Judy Is A Punk (demo) mp3 at 7 Inch Punk
The Ramones - Loudmouth (demo) mp3 at 7 Inch Punk
The first LP:
The Ramones - Ramones (streaming) at YouTube
The Ramones - It's Alive - 28 minute live performance (1977) at YouTube
Sullivan School kindergarteners - Judy Is a Punk at YouTube
The Ramones at Wikipedia
Roberta Bayley's original source photo for the first LP cover