1974-1995. One of the first wave of punk bands, hailing from New York City. The original lineup consisted of Joey Ramone, Johnny Ramone, Dee Dee Ramone, and Tommy Ramone. Known for their blistering, minimalist three-chord songs which dealt with pinheads, cretins, and teenage lobotomies, they went through a succession of drummers over the years, most notably Marky Ramone. The band was featured in the film Rock 'n' Roll High School starring P.J. Soles, where you can not only behold them in concert at the height of their powers but also witness their acting...um...skills.

When Dee Dee left the band, the magic ended. They limped along for a few more years before finally disbanding.

The Ramones were hardly the "great grand-daddies of punk". The Velvet Underground were around in 1965 and Stooges in 1969. The MC5 were around in the late sixties, and the Troggs, the Count Five, and numerous other UK and Pacific Northwest bands were recognizably punk long before the Ramones existed. The Ramones were more directly influenced by the immortal New York Dolls (and don't forget the Dictators) who also preceeded them; see the fine book Please Kill Me by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain (no relation to the admirable and ill-fated presidential candidate). The Ramones really were an important band and they were cool as all hell, but they weren't "first" at much of anything except buzzsaw pop, which within a decade had mutated into a genre unto itself with bands like the Undertones, the Hard-Ons, the Buzzcocks, and a cast of thousands.

According to most critics, the Ramones were the first important punk rock band. They formed in 1974 in the Forest Hills section of Queens, New York. Originally, they consisted of Joey Ramone (Jeffrey Hyman) on vocals and drums, Johnny Ramone (John Cummings) on guitar, and Dee Dee Ramone (Douglas Colvin) on bass, with Tommy Ramone (Tom Erdelyi) as the manager. Tommy soon took over the drumming chores to let Joey devote himself to vocals.

Ramones songs were typically short, stripped-down, fast, and kitschy, with roots in 1950s rock and lyrics like something out of a '50s teen exploitation flick--"The KKK Took My Baby Away", "Teenage Lobotomy", "I Wanna Be Sedated", "Rockaway Beach", and "Somebody Put Something in my Drink".

Within months of their debut, the band was playing regularly at CBGB's, earning a devoted cult following, and inspiring other musicians to form punk bands. They signed their first record contract in 1975, recording their debut album ("Ramones") for just over $6,000. The record and its followup ("Ramones Leave Home") were much more popular in England than it was in the U.S., inspiring bands like the Sex Pistols.

Tommy left the band in '78; he was replaced by Marky Ramone (former Voidoid Marc Bee). The Ramones' album that year was "Road to Ruin", which significantly softened their sound, adding influences from surf music, '60s pop, and even girl groups. The band was also featured in the 1979 Roger Corman film "Rock N' Roll High School". Their fifth album, "End of the Century", produced by the legendary Phil Spector, was released in 1980 to mixed reviews.

The band's next two albums ("Pleasant Dreams" and "Subterranean Jungle") were commercial and critical disappointments, and their fan base began to decline as fans and critics lost interest. Marky quit the band after the release of "Subterranean Jungle"--he was replaced by Richie Ramone (former Velveteen Richard Beau). The band turned more hardcore in 1984's "Too Tough to Die", which was produced by Tommy Ramone.

The rest of the Ramones' albums were more streamlined and commercial--including "Animal Boy", "Halfway to Sanity" (after which Richie quit and Marky rejoined), "Brain Drain" (after which Dee Dee quit and C.J. Ramone (Christopher John Ward) joined), "Loco Live", "Mondo Bizarro", and "Acid Eaters".

After the release of "Acid Eaters", punk rock finally hit it big in America, and the Ramones released "Adios Amigos", claiming that unless the new record sold well, the group would disband--the record stayed on the charts for only two weeks. After a lengthy farewell tour, they toured with Lollapalooza before finally calling it quits in 1996.

Much research from www.allmusic.com

Wahn two three fah!

Anyone that has ever bothered to delve into the history of the Ramones knows that three different drummers officially occupied the drum throne from 1974 to 1996. While friends of the family would lend a hand in times of crisis, the drum kit primarily belonged to Tommy, Marky, and Richie Ramone. These guys could play a 4/4 pattern all night long and were definitely too cool for school, too dumb to get a job.

Joey Ramone

Jeff Hyman, aka Joey Ramone, was actually the group's first drummer. It was Thomas Erdelyi (later Tommy Ramone) that suggested he try vocals instead. He did. It worked. Joey died on April 15th, 2001, after a battle with lymphatic cancer.

Tommy Ramone

On March 30th, 1974 (exactly 30 years previous to the completion of this writeup), record producer Thomas Erdelyi was present at the first serious Ramones jam session, when the group was a three-piece with Dee Dee singing and Joey playing drums. Soon after recommending that Joey switch to vocals, Thomas was asked to join the group and donned the Tommy Ramone moniker. Tommy left the band in 1978 to focus on producing, but remained close to the Ramones and served as the producer ("T. Erdelyi") on several of their later records.

Tommy can be heard on these albums:

Editors Note:

Tommy Ramone died at his home in Queens, New York City, on July 11, 2014, aged 65. He had been receiving hospice care following unsuccessful treatment for cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer). Tommy was the last of the original band members.

Marky Ramone

Marc Bell, formerly of Ramones contemporaries the Voidoids, replaced Tommy in 1978 and played with the Ramones until late 1982. After Richie Ramone's chaotic exit in 1987, Marky returned at Johnny's urging and continued touring and recording with the group until their final gig in 1996. Retaining his Ramones stage name, Marky has since formed several new bands and has toured and recorded with the Misfits.

Marky can be heard on these albums:

Richie* Ramone

Richard Reinhardt was the drummer for the New York band the Velveteens before being asked to replace Marky Ramone. Richie played drums for the Ramones from 1983 until 1987. Richie appeared with the band in the music videos accompanying the Subterranean Jungle (1983) album, although it was actually Marky's drumming that was heard in the videos. Having put the music business behind him, Richie is now working as a caddy at a Los Angeles golf course.

Richie can be heard on these albums:

Billy Rogers

Drummer for Johnny Thunders' band the Heartbreakers, Billy played on the last track recorded for Subterranean Jungle (1983) after a disgruntled Marky took his drumsticks and went home.

Billy can be heard on this album:

Elvis Ramone

Clem Burke, drummer for New Wave act Blondie, sat in with the Ramones for two gigs in August, 1987 after the sudden departure of Richie. Clem was not meant as a serious replacement (as his alleged stage name might indicate), and never recorded or toured with the Ramones after those two shows.



* - Richie Ramone should not be confused with former bassist Ritchie Ramone, who played briefly with the band in 1974 before being ousted in favor of Dee Dee.

** - Smash You! Live '85 is an 8-song bonus disc included with the excellent Loud, Fast Ramones: Their Toughest Hits compilation.

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