Ramones was a band formed in Forest Hills, in the district of Queens (New York, United States) in 1974. Pioneers and leaders of the then nascent punk, they laid the foundations of this musical genre with minimalist, repetitive compositions and very simple or even lyrics. meaningless, in clear opposition to the pomposity and lavishness of the bands that triumphed in the 70s market. That is, with their long guitar solos, complex progressive rock songs and enigmatic lyrics. The Ramones' sound is characterized by being fast and direct, with influences from 1950s rockabilly, surf rock, The Beatles, The Who and The Velvet Underground.
The band led the first wave of punk in New York, sharing the stage of the legendary CBGB club with other punk bands such as Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers, Richard Hell & The Voidoids, among others. From protopunk like Patti Smith and Television and new wave like Blondie and Talking Heads, serving as inspiration for the vast majority of punk bands that emerged in the 1970s, both from the United States and the United Kingdom. It was one of the most important bands in the history of rock, its influence can be seen in almost all subsequent punk formations.
When the Ramones set foot on Argentine soil for the first time, on February 3, 1987, they did not imagine that an extremely intense relationship would begin with their fans in the southern cone. Although upon arriving at the Ezeiza airport, around 8 in the morning, Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Richie already had some indications that this tour was not just another one. They came from Brazil, with three shows to full houses in Sao Paulo.
At that time, the punk scene in Buenos Aires was thriving. The bands began to stabilize with a circuit for recitals (not without confrontations with other “tribes”) and “fanzines” proliferated (1). Only Los Violadores with their ultra-violent hit 1, 2 had managed to leave the underground. The crest, the clothing and the attitude still did not fit in a society where there were too many continuities of the repressive climate of the dictatorship. The Ramones recital would also be a turning point for those neighborhood kids who saw punk as an escape valve.
That hot Wednesday in February 1987, the Ramones made their traditional set list from those years, with few variations depending on the show. After the melodies of “The good, the bad and the ugly”, 31 songs sounded like lightning in a serene sky at the Obras stadium, located at Avenida del Libertador 7395, in the Nuñez neighborhood. To the classics, some songs from Animal Boy were added, the album released in 1986. It will be the only recital in Argentina where the lineup that included Dee Dee on bass and Richie on drums will play. Dee Dee was going through a delicate situation due to her addiction to drugs and alcohol. The picture seemed so extreme that Juan Cebrián, a TV producer who was recording the group's intimacy in Buenos Aires, had to arrange a meeting with Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous at the Sheraton hotel, located at 1225 San Martín Street in the Barrio de Withdrawal. The bassist was very depressed about his state of health and dissatisfied with his relationship with the rest of the group. "In his room I heard the sounds coming from the hallway; there was a quilombo and he said: “Nooo, everyone is partying and I'm not," remembers Cebrián.
It was the first of the 27 concerts that the band gave in Argentina. Then, they returned in April 1991 to do three shows, again at Obras, but with changes in the lineup: Dee Dee and Richie left to make way for C.J. and Marky.
They returned in September 1992 where they did five shows in a row in the same stadium, with Todos Tus Muertos as the support band. At that time, Ramones stayed at the Panamericano hotel, located at Carlos Pellegrini 551 in the San Nicolás neighborhood, where hundreds of fans stood guard to get a photo or an autograph. "We were literally imprisoned in the hotel," Joey said.
With each visit by The Ramones, the fan reaction became more and more extreme. Not only did the hotel maids or the immigration guys at the airport ask them for autographs, but the real fans began to look for increasingly crazy ways to get there. When they played 'Do it for Me', Mario Pergollini's show, hundreds of fans managed to get in, but those who didn't were in charge of forcing the doors and sneaking in anyway. That same week, Joey and Marky went to give an interview to Rock & Pop radio, but when they wanted to leave, they saw that the fans had put a truck in the middle of the street, to prevent the band from leaving.
In 1993 they returned to do five shows in a row again at Obras. In 1994 they played in Vélez, Obras and toured Rosario, Mar del Plata and Bahía Blanca. In 1995 they played for six consecutive days.
Norberto “Ruso” Verea has several anecdotes with the members of Ramones, mainly with Joey Ramone, the band's vocalist. During his visits to the country in the nineties, a must-do was to go to the “Heavy Rock & Pop” program, which he hosted with Alejandro Nagy, among others. This program was broadcast on Rock & Pop radio located, at that time, on Avenida Entre Ríos 1931 in the Parque Patricios neighborhood. There, according to the “Russian”, Joey loved to come and play music, so every time he visited them, they were in charge of collecting records for him to choose and play during the night.
After their show in River, and in the middle of their last tour of the United States with Metallica and Soundgarden, within the framework of the Lollapalooza festival, Ramones was close to giving the last show in their history in Argentina. From Rock & Pop radio they offered the group a million dollars, a proposal that seemed irrefutable... except for Joey. In a precarious state of health, the singer ended up declining the offer. "I have to think about myself, we already did our thing," he said. The group's last show ended up being on August 6, 1996 at The Palace in Los Angeles.
After the failed foray into the world of rap, Dee Dee returned to punk with his solo album I Hate Freaks Like You, in the return of the original bassist of the Ramones to the sound of his former group. The album was published in 1996 and recorded in the Netherlands.
On July 20, 1999, Dee Dee, Joey, Johnny, Marky, C.J. and Tommy appeared together at a Virgin music store in New York to sign autographs. This was the last time the former members of the group reunited before Joey's death on April 15, 2001 from lymphoma. Joey's unfinished works were collected on the album Don't Worry About Me. In tribute to his memory, the New York City Council unveiled a plaque with his name on the corner of Bowery Street (where CBGB was located) and 2nd Street in November 2003, renaming it Joey Ramone Place.
In 2002, Johnny, Dee Dee, Joey, Tommy and Marky Ramone were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which was one of Dee Dee's last appearances before his death. On June 5 of that same year he was found dead in his Hollywood home from a heroin overdose.
In February 2003, the CD We're a Happy Family was released. A Tribute to Ramones, an album of covers of the band's most famous songs coordinated by Rob Zombie (leader of White Zombie) and Johnny Ramone, in which artists such as U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tom Waits, Metallica, Kiss participated , Marilyn Manson, Garbage, Eddie Vedder, The Pretenders, Green Day, The Offspring and Rob Zombie himself.
In the summer of 2004, a documentary about the band, End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones, was released. Johnny Ramone died on September 15 after a battle with prostate cancer. A year later, in commemoration of his death, the first museum dedicated to the band opened its doors in Berlin, Germany, with a collection of almost three hundred objects related to the New York quartet.
Throughout 2006, a theater musical called Gabba Gabba Hey was released based on the story of the Ramones, which includes eighteen songs by the New York group and which featured the participation of Tommy Ramone, both in its production and on stage.
In October 2007, a live DVD called It's Alive 1974-1996 was published, with 118 songs played in 33 concerts that review the group's musical career. In 2012, Joey Ramone's second posthumous album titled Ya Know?
On July 11, 2014, the last original member of the band died in Queens, United States. Tommy Ramone, from bile duct cancer.
(1) Revistas hechas por fans con la intención de informar directamente a un público en específico, o a un público en general, sobre ciertos tópicos de una forma económica y también algo under ground.