It was the spring of 1976.
Wallowing in the pit of modern jazz and feeling like my musical addiction was waning, I slunked into Record Stop on a typical Thursday night. I was lazily thumbing through the record bins with very little enthusiasm.
Nipo was blabbing on and on about this new band from New york City. My ears perked up.
“They sound like robots, every song sounds exactly the same and are all under 3 minutes. They have the same last name but they aren’t related”. In his usual Nipo fashion, he was excited, but at a new level I had never seen. He was actually hysterical laughing. He showed me the album.
A black and white cover with four of the scragliest looking guys I had seen, in leather jackets, ripped jeans and sneakers. The title at the top simply said
Still chuckling and filled with the glee of a kid in a candy store, Nipo put it on.
“Hey Ho Let’s Go, Hey Ho Let’s go” Blitzkreig Bop? What is this? I started reading the lyrics. It’s about Nazi Germany. What the ???
Next song “beat on the brat with a baseball bat”? This is hilarious. Are these guys serious? Is this a joke?
Nipo did his usual leaping up and down. I was confused. But by the third or fourth song. I was leaping up and down next to him.
This is it. This is what I had been waiting for. This was the return to all the things that made rock n roll fun and funny and interesting.
Johnny, Joey, Dee Dee and Tommy saved my life.
On that day, I stopped listening to Modern Jazz, Prog rock, old hard rock albums I wore out, The Beatles, etc…and became a punk rocker. The Ramones turned my current record collection obsolete.
Mad Jim was not ready to make that step. Once again, he could not let go of the “loud”. Although The Ramones were loud, it lacked any technical ability, to a point where it was laughable. Unfortunately he was not alone in that opinion. The backlash against punk was harsh. Once again, I found myself a misfit.
It hit me on a gut level. I got it. This was the future. The Ramones were on a mission to save rock n roll.
And they did, for me, and countless others. the Ramones smashed a wall. I was back to feeding my addiction. And it got worse.
The Ramones went on to make three more excellent albums. the follow up “Leave Home”, the brilliant “Rocket To Russia” and the close to perfect “Road To Ruin”. They hit a brick wall when they ran into Phil Spector and produced the messy “End Of The Century”, which, in my opinion, marked the end of The Ramones. As much as they stayed the same throughout their career, they lost that special feel of their early albums.
I saw The Ramones 6 times. They ruined my hearing and destroyed my desire to listen to anything other than punk. The 3 minute songs were fast and loud. Live, they were faster and louder and usually clocked in at about a minute and a half. I had no idea how brilliant they really were. The militaristic stance, the non-stop energy and Joey Ramone as the Ronnie Spector of punk and the genius of their lyrics. How could it not be the greatest rock n roll experience.
The Ramones never got the respect they deserved until years later.
The day Joey Ramone died was one of the saddest days of my life. Dee Dee and Johnny also passed. I remember my mother in law saying, “how sad, their poor mother, losing three sons.” I just smiled and said “yeah”
Gabba Gabba Hey !!!