This Saturday marks the 40th anniversary of the release of The Ramones‘ debut album, Ramones, which arguably has become one of the most influential rock records of all time. Made by the band that was the centerpiece of New York’s punk-rock scene, Ramones features 14 songs running a total of 29 minutes, and was recorded in just one week for a reported $6,400.
The Ramones were four misfits from Queens, New York, who all changed their last names to Ramone and took on a classic uniform of black-leather jackets, T-shirts, ripped jeans and sneakers. The band’s music blended elements of British Invasion acts, ’60s girl groups, The Beach Boys, and proto-punk bands like The Stooges and The MC5, all delivered with adrenaline speed and featuring catchy melodies and cartoonish lyrics filled with twisted humor and themes.
The album opens with one of The Ramones’ most recognizable songs, the infectious anthem “Blitzkrieg Bop,” with its simple chanted chorus “Hey! Ho! Let’s go!” Other memorable tunes on the record include “Beat on the Brat,” “Judy Is a Punk,” “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend,” “Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue,” “Loudmouth” and “53rd & 3rd.”
Although the album was initially a commercial failure, it made an invaluable impact on countless bands, from The Sex Pistols, The Clash and Motorhead to Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day and Nirvana. Meanwhile, The Ramones’ debut record pretty much served as the template for all of their subsequent albums through their breakup in 1996.
While commercial success eluded The Ramones, their mark on rock history was acknowledged when the group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.
Sadly, all four original Ramones members are no longer with us. Singer Joey Ramone, born Jeffrey Hyman, died in 2001 at age 49; bassist Dee Dee Ramone, a.k.a. Doug Colvin, passed away in 2002 at age 50; guitarist Johnny Ramone, born John Cummings, died in September 2004 at age 55; and drummer Tommy Ramone, born Tamas Erdelyi, died in July 2014 at the age of 65.
Meanwhile, in June 2014, 38 years after its release, Ramones was certified gold for sales of 500,000 copies in the U.S. In celebration of the album’s 40th anniversary, an exhibit focusing on the group opened earlier this month at Queens Museum in the band members’ hometown borough of Queens, New York.
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