The Influence of the Ramones on British Punk Bands.
Above Photo: Members of the Clash and the Ramones in London, 1976. (Side note – you just assume Paul Simonon’s on his (not-then-invented) mobile phone, looking at this photo today. How times have changed…).
I recently watched an excellent documentary about the Ramones, which underlined how important they were in the development of the Punk music scene, both in New York and then in the UK, where the Ramones became role models for the first British Punk bands.
The documentary was called “End of the Century – the Story of the Ramones”. Made in 2003, and based on extensive interviews with the band members, it brought home how dramatically the Ramones had changed the musical landscape in New York, given what else was going on there in 1975, and how they’d significantly impacted the British Punk scene too.
Joe Strummer of the Clash recalled in July 1976 that the Ramones played the Round House in Camden, London. It was a 3,000 person venue, but members of the Clash and the Sex Pistols were hanging around, ticketless, outside, and the Ramones opened a backstage window to allow them to bunk into the gig, forming a human chain to haul them inside.
“That was the first time we’d met them. It was a really great Punk Rock moment,” Strummer said.
The Ramones were treated very differently in the UK to the US. They were selling out all their gigs in the UK and were an inspirational band for British Punks, but back in the US they couldn’t get gigs outside of New York City, except in sleepy satellite towns.
Members of early British Punk bands have acknowledged the enormous influence the Ramones had on them, musically and in terms of just having the bollocks to set up their own bands; although the Ramones’ influence on the musical direction of the Sex Pistols backfired on them a short while later.
When the Ramones released “Sheena is a Punk Rocker” off their Rocket to Russia album in late 1977, they believed they were on the cusp of mainstream stardom in the US. But because of the Sex Pistols’ well-publicized bad behavior on both sides of the Atlantic, Punk was suddenly a dirty word in the US, and this badly harmed the band’s image and record sales – or so the Ramones thought.
Tragically, in the documentary, after the band were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2002, there was a shot of Dee Dee Ramone walking off down a long hotel corridor before the words came up on the screen:
“Two months later, Dee Dee died of a heroin overdose.”
“End of the Century – the Story of the Ramones” is well worth watching, and it’s on you Tube too.
Buy a signed copy of Bombed Out! here: http://www.bombedoutpunk.com/buybook.php
And to end, here’s Sheena is a Punk Rocker – live footage of the Ramones shot in CBGB’s, New York, in 1977.