While looking into who might rightfully hold this title among Rock and Roll's great pantheon of bands, I find that many P.R. agents and record company execs have touted one act or another over the last few decades as fitting this description. Most notably, Spinal Tap has been hailed as "England's Loudest Band", while former Queen guitarist Brian May's band SMILE claims to be "the loudest band in the western world". "Canada's Loudest Band" status is claimed by The Phantom Shifters, and Frito-Lay's 1998 promotion of "The Loudest Band On Earth" through their Doritos product tie-in went to a band called Icheewawa... whoever they are. This can all be discounted as hype, of course.
Some will recall that Motorhead is frequently credited as "the loudest band", and many might argue that The Who may have merited that label, or The Jesus and Mary Chain. One could nomintate a great many bands to this list, and it would probably be difficult for even Rolling Stone magazine to make a decisive choice. I believe that the loudest band in the world was, without question, The Ramones.
The recent (April 15, 2001) death of Joey Ramone reminded me of the one lucky opportunity I got to see The Ramones in concert. It was in 1988 or 1989, at a club in Tallahassee, Florida called The Moon. This place had been converted to a performance venue from an old Piggly Wiggly grocery store, and while not being small, it was filled with lots of hard, reflective surfaces. Having seen dozens of other acts play this place, I remember being surprised at how huge The Ramones' P.A. was; stacks upon stacks on either side of the stage, towering at least 30' - almost to the ceiling, and about 50' wide on either side. When The Ramones finally took the stage, from the first chord of the opening song - I Wanna Be Sedated - I was in disbelief. The wall of sound coming from their P.A. was deafening. While my friends started jumping up and down doing the pogo dance, I remember just standing there slack-jawed at how incredibly loud they were.
After about ten minutes (they were probably on the sixth song of their usual non-stop set), I realized that I had to move further away from the stage. I found the most remote corner of the club there was where I could still see the band, and it was still the loudest sound I had ever heard! Experiencing the sound of jet engines while standing on the tarmac wasn't as loud as this! I was enjoying the music, and it was awesome to finally see The Ramones play live, but damn! - half an hour later, my ears were already ringing! After another fifteen minutes, I fished around in my coat pockets for the pair of earplugs I carried with me (after learning my lesson at a few really loud concerts), and put them in for the remainder of the show. But it was too late.
On the way home, all my friends were shouting at each other in the car just to be heard. Even though I had used the earplugs, I had ringing in my ears for three days afterwards. I have never seen a band perform live before or since that even came close to being as loud as The Ramones were that night, and I have probably seen nearly fifty concerts in my lifetime. As far as I am concerned, The Ramones were truly the loudest band in the world.
rootbeer277 notes that "prolonged expsoure to noise over 85 decibels can cause permanent hearing loss."
Note to jmra: Let's hope Manowar keeps its gigs outdoors.