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The History of the Ramones

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Formed in 1974 in Queens, New York, the Ramones attracted attention thanks to their short and fast performances, rebellious attitudes and sense of fashion. They quickly made their mark on various punk rock scenes around the world and became known as the founding fathers of the genre thanks to their unique style. In this video, takes a look at the history of the American group known as the Ramones.

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Punk rock band the Ramones formed in 1974 in Queens, New York. The band originally consisted of vocalist and rhythm guitarist Douglas Colvin, lead guitarist John Cummings and drummer Jeffery Hyman, though they went through a few line-up changes in the early days.

The Ramones

With Colvin on bass, Hyman on lead vocals and Thomas Erdelyi on drums, the group adopted stage names. Colvin became Dee Dee Ramone, Hyman became Joey Ramone, Cummings became Johnny Ramone, and Erdelyi became Tommy Ramone.

Punk Pioneers

They soon became regulars at New York’s CBGB club, where they attracted attention for their short and fast performances. Thanks to Joey’s voice and stage manner, they were being called pioneers of the blossoming punk scene.

Debut and Live Shows

After signing with Sire Records, The Ramones released their self-titled debut in 1976. This warmly-received effort was mainly penned by Dee Dee, but was not a commercial success. However, they continued to make a name for themselves with their live shows and also left their mark on punk rock scenes around the world.

Sophomore Effort and Third Album

The next year, they issued their sophomore LP Leave Home, and this release found some chart success in the UK. A few months later, the Ramones released Rocket to Russia, which – at position forty-nine – was their highest-charting album on the Billboard charts to that point. The effort featured surf rock influences, and spawned two charting singles. It was also their last album with Tommy.

New Drummer

The group’s 1978 album Road to Ruin was the first with new drummer Marc Bell or Marky Ramone. The record was produced by Tommy, and featured pop and acoustic influences. This was followed by the release of the live compilation It’s Alive and an appearance in the 1979 comedy “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School.”

Highest-Charting Record

The Ramones’ next record was 1980’s End of the Century. In the hopes of attaining commercial success, the Phil Spector-produced album contained much less aggressive punk rock than their previous works. By reaching the forty-fourth spot, it became their highest-charting U.S. album and contained their biggest UK hit.

Diluted Punk Sound

Up next was 1981’s Pleasant Dreams, and this album once again featured watered down punk and experimentation with pop music. It was followed by the 1983 effort Subterranean Jungle, which was the group’s last to chart in the Billboard Top 100.

Return to Punk

Since Marky had been dismissed prior to the release of their next album, Richard Reindhart, or Richie Ramone, took his place. His first album with the Ramones was 1984’s Too Tough to Die, and this was a critically-acclaimed effort that brought the group back to their punk rock roots.

More Albums and Lineup Changes

Two years later, they released the album Animal Boy. This was followed by Halfway to Sanity the next year. After this record, Richie was briefly replaced by Blondie member Clem Burke. However Elvis Ramone, as he was called, was fired after only a few performances. Marky then re-joined the group as drummer.

Dee Dee Ramone's Departure

Dee Dee Ramone’s last album with The Ramones was 1989’s Brain Drain. His replacement was Christopher Joseph Ward, or C.J. Ramone, and his first album with the band was 1992’s Mondo Bizarro. This was followed by the 1993 cover album Acid Eaters and the Ramones’ final studio album ¡Adios Amigos! in 1995.

Touring and Last Show

The band spent the next few months touring. After playing at the 1996 Lollapalooza festival, the Ramones played their last show in August of that year. This performance was released as the 1997 live compilation We’re Outta Here!, which featured a number of special appearances, including one by Dee Dee.

Posthumous Popularity

The last time Dee Dee, Johnny, Joey, Tommy, Marky and C.J. Ramone’s appeared together was a New York autograph session in 1999. Though Joey, Dee Dee and Johnny passed away during the next decade, their music lived on through various releases. These included the 2004 documentary “End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones,” and the DVD “It’s Alive 1974-1996.” A Ramones Museum also opened that year.


The Ramones’ punk rock style, combined with their artistic vision and fashion sense, have made them leaders in a genre that has since influenced a myriad number of musicians.

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