Saturday, April 25, 2009

Saturday Night At The Liberal Curmudgeon: The Ramones Pay Tribute To Sheena The Punk Rocker

Rock operas, synthesizers and half-hour jams were not for The Ramones. They stripped rock down to a fast, raw and aggressive wall of electric sound, each song around two minutes long, no solos necessary. Guitarist Johnny Ramone described his playing as "pure, white rock 'n' roll, with no blues influence. I wanted our sound to be as original as possible. I stopped listening to everything." A conservative, Johnny was at odds with leather-jacketed singer Joey Ramone, a liberal, in more than politics. After Johnny took up with Joey's former girlfriend in the early 1980s, the two band members, who formed the core of the group, continued touring until 1996 but never spoke again. Both would die of cancer, Joey, 49, in 2001 and Johnny, 55, in 2004.

Band members met at Forest Hills High School in Queens, NY, also the alma mater of Simon & Garfunkel. They took their name from a pseudonym that Paul McCartney once used, Paul Ramon. The Ramones never had a hit, but they stayed together for 22 years, releasing more than a dozen studio albums and playing 2,263 concerts. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002 and hailed for igniting the punk rock movement with their self-named 1976 album. 

The Ramones' punk sound included strains of '60s AM bubblegum and surf music, evident in their performance above of "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker."


fleud said...

While I'm not steeped in all things Ramones, it's my belief that they were assiduously apolitical—unlike most British punk groups-- with one exception: the song "My Brain is Hanging Upside Down (Bonzo Goes to Bitburg)", written primarily by Joey in response to Pres. Reagan's visit to the German military cemetery in Bitburg, Germany, which includesthe graves of some Waffen SS , if I remember correctly. Johnny must not have liked that too much, not that he had any Nazi sympathies, but the song was, to say the least, anti-Reagan. I wonder what made him cave.
Please see the following for details:

Jeff Tone said...

Fleud: Johnny surely would not have appreciated the song's reference to Reagan. The obituary on him in the Times states:

"The Ramones were inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. When the band received its honor, Mr. Ramone, a staunch Republican, declared, 'God bless President Bush, and God bless America.' "