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Ten Things You May Not Know About The Ramones
The Ramones may be legends, but their story is unique – they are often credited as inspiring many future musicians, despite having struggled commercially.
And yet, it’s hard to go to a rock concert these days and not see someone sporting their timeless black & white t-shirt. Their presence is still felt today, and as such we deemed it important to honor their legacy and pay tribute to the late Dee Dee Ramone, who died in early June.
What follows is a list of Ten Things You may Not Know About the Ramones – from trivia to perspectives on their longstanding importance to what we all call “rock ‘n’ roll”. Enjoy.
1. Only two people were active Ramones for the entirety of the band’s existence.
Only Johnny and Joey Ramone, guitarist and vocalist respectively, were members of the band for its entire lifespan. Over the years, four different drummers manned the kit, while Dee Dee Ramone was the group’s bassist until 1989, when C.J. Ramone took over.
2. They were the first punk band inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but not without some controversy.
Unsurprisingly, the Ramones were admitted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. Surprisingly, though, they were the first punk band allowed in, as both the Clash and the Sex Pistols were overlooked that year – despite both being eligible. Curious, isn’t it?
3. The Beatles gave them their name.
According to legend, Dee Dee (real name Douglas Colvin) thought of the idea to name the band Ramones, inspired by Paul McCartney’s Silver Beatle pseudonym Paul Ramon. After Dee Dee did it himself, he urged the rest of the band to follow suit, and thus “The Ramones” were born.
4. One of the key lines in Blitzkrieg Bop was intentionally vague.
According to Tommy Ramone, the line Shoot ‘em in the back now was originally They’re shouting in the back now. He said that Dee Dee changed it to its final version, noting that it was a non sequitur (in that it had no meaning to anything else in the song).
5. The Ramones were the producers’ fifth option to star in Rock ‘n’ Roll High School.
The 1979 film was notable for how it heavily featured the Ramones, both musically and as actors themselves. Remarkably, they were the fifth (!) act considered for the movie. According to legend, Van Halen, Todd Rundgren, Devo, and Cheap Trick were in the running, but various legal and creative snafus derailed each of those possibilities.
6. They were barely paid for their involvement in the film.
Because of their paltry $25,000 fee for appearing in the movie, the Ramones had to play a handful of local shows in the Los Angeles area in order to afford their hotel costs.
7. They had one of the most infamous television cameos ever.
In 1993, the Ramones appeared on Rosebud, a Citizen Kane-themed episode of The Simpsons. In it, they performed a version of Happy Birthday for the character Mr. Burns. After they finished, a horrified Burns told his assistant Smithers “have the Rolling Stones killed!” Marky Ramone has stated that their appearance on the show was one of the highlights of his music career.
8. An Avatar actor will portray Joey Ramone in an upcoming film.
Joey Ramone was an imposing physical presence, and as such it would require a certain type of actor to fill his proverbial shoes. For an upcoming movie about the legendary NYC punk club CBGB, Joel David Moore, an actor known for his roles in Avatar and Grandma’s Boy, will portray the legendary Ramones front man – and he seems like a solid fit for the role.
9. Their highest-charting single was exemplary of their commercial struggle.
Despite now-classics like I Wanna Be Sedated and Blitzkrieg Bop, it was Rockaway Beach, from 1977’s Rocket to Russia that was the band’s most successful single. Surprisingly, the song only reached the #66 spot on the Billboard Hot 100.
10. Despite their commercial frustration, they directly influenced many future genres of music – not all of them alike.
Exemplary of their influence on legions of future musicians, bands, and genres the legacy of the Ramones can be felt across: the punk movement (the Clash, Rancid, Black Flag, Bad Religion, Social Distortion and others) grunge/alternative (Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden) and even hard rock/metal (Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammet has directly cited Johnny Ramone’s playing as an influence). Bands have since considered the Ramones key figures in their individual development as musicians.
As always, feel free to let us know of any other key facts we left out!