RAMONES: …… and then there were none writes Tony Besgrove

I couldn't let the passing away of the last remaining member of the original Ramones lineup go by without putting pen to paper (well, fingers to keyboard, then).

On July 11th. Tommy Ramone, drummer, died from cancer. He followed in the footsteps of Joey (vocals, d.2001), Dee Dee (bass/vocals d.2002), and Johnny (guitar, d.2004)

More than any other band, The Ramones represented the face of American punk music, much in the way that the Sex Pistols led the vanguard for British Punk. The Ramones' music had a 'softer edge' to it than the British bands - that's not to say it didn't have the same energy - but Ramones music could get airplay due to its lack of offensive language.

The day I heard 'Blitzkrieg Bop' on the wireless I went out and bought their first album. Up to then there had been little exposure of this new music on the airwaves. The Damned had 'New Rose', The Saints had '(I'm) Stranded', but The Ramones brought something else to the party. Along with Johnny's relentless buzz-saw guitar, and a very simple but effective rhythm section, we had Joey's nihilistic, dumb kid, street-savvy vocals belting out two-minute songs with the most basic of chord changes. Dee Dee's contribution of the opening lyric to every song, '1-2-3-4', was a band trademark. Nothing cerebral here - but hey, this is ROCK, red in tooth and claw; you don't want surprises!

Like AC/DC, Quo and Motörhead, their style never changed. Although the lineups shuffled around a bit in later years, the core of Johnny's guitar and Joey's vocals kept The Ramones sound consistent, and for that I am eternally grateful. I can't listen to their albums without grinning from ear to ear.

The YouTube clip I have selected is of their Rainbow Concert, New Year's Eve, 1977. This was released as 'It's Alive'. The energy of the performance is just incredible. It leaves me breathless!



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