Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, Punk Rock Edition, where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!
Punk rock started in 1976 on New York’s Bowery, when four cretins from Queens came up with a mutant strain of blitzkrieg bubblegum. The revolution they inspired split the history of rock & roll in half. But even if punk rock began as a kind of negation — a call to stark, brutal simplicity — its musical variety and transforming emotional power was immediate and remains staggering.
The Ramones were an American punk rock band that formed in the New York City neighborhood of Forest Hills, Queens in 1974. They are often cited as the first true punk rock group. Despite achieving only limited commercial success initially, the band was highly influential in the United States, South America, and the United Kingdom.
Onstage, they were the personification of unity – even family. The four men dressed the same –in leather motorcycle jackets, weathered jeans, sneakers – had the same dark hair color, shared the same last name. They seemed to think the same thoughts and breathe the same energy. They often didn’t stop between songs, not even as bassist Dee Dee Ramone barked out the mad “1-2-3- 4” time signature that dictated the tempo for their next number. Guitarist Johnny Ramone and drummer Tommy Ramone would slam into breakneck unison with a power that could make audience members lean back, as if they’d been slammed in the chest. Johnny and Dee Dee played with legs astride, looking unconquerable. Between them stood lead singer Joey Ramone – gangly, with dark glasses and a hair mess that fell over his eyes, protecting him from a world that had too often been unkind – proclaiming the band’s hilarious, disturbing tales of misplacement and heartbreak. There was a pleasure and spirit, a palpable commonality, in what the Ramones were doing onstage together.
Founded in New York City in 1974, the Ramones cultivated a simple three-chord sound that became the foundation of punk rock. Played at a blistering tempo, frequently lasting little more than two minutes, and with catchy, often willfully inane lyrics (so stupid they were smart, according to some critics), Ramones songs such as “Blitzkrieg Bop,” “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker,” and “I Wanna Be Sedated” contrasted sharply with the complex, carefully orchestrated mainstream rock of the era. In ripped jeans and black leather jackets, the Ramones made their reputation with almost-nonstop touring and energetic live performances, notably at New York City’s CBGB club. Their tour of England in 1976 proved a major inspiration for the punk movement in Britain, where they enjoyed greater commercial success than at home. Influenced by the rebelliousness of their contemporaries the New York Dollsand by 1960s pop music (especially bubblegum and surf music), the Ramones brought their back-to-basics approach to such albums as their eponymous debut (1976) and Rocket to Russia (1977). With a shifting lineup, they continued to record and perform into the 1990s, disbanding in 1996. In 2002 the Ramones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 2011 they received a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement.