Today we celebrate the birthday of two Ramones: Johnny and CJ Ramone. Yes, CJ (who turns 45 today) is viewed as a ringer or a hired gun. He isn't anyone's favorite Ramone, but he did a fine job filling Dee Dee's Chucks and leather jacket
Johnny is another story. Born John William Cummings, he'd be 62 today if he hadn't died from cancer in 2004. Anytime a kid picks up a guitar and accurately strums a power chord for the first time, he is Johnny Ramone. His no-solos, all-muscle style of guitar set the bar for every rocker that followed. He proved that talent has nothing to do with virtuosity.
It can be argued that without the Ramones there would be no punk. The band taught generations of bands the importance of honest and simple three-chord songwriting.
And Johnny was big on band image. It was very important whenever the Ramones appeared in public that every member wore his costume. Unlike Kiss, who'd dress up as space-animal-alien-warriors, the Ramones just dressed like regular dudes. In fact, they all dressed like the same regular dude. It was the proto-punk crew's greatest achievement: Subliminally telling kids that anyone could be a rock star.
Anyway, in honor of Johnny and CJ Ramone's joint birthday, here's ten bands that wouldn't exist without the Ramones.
Carrying the Ramones' torch high, early Green Day sounded
like a more introspective version of the Ramones. Buzz-saw guitars and catchy
as hell choruses -played by a group of kids that would gladly let you sniff
glue with them. Even though Green Day has grown to mega-band status, they've never
forgotten their roots. Here's a video of Green Day covering "Lobotomy" and
"Blitzkrieg Bop" at the Ramone's induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in
Kurt Cobain's fusion of blistering guitars with pop melodies is pure Ramones. Yes,
Nirvana had dozens of other influences; classic rock, the Beatles (a strong
influence on the Ramones) and hardcore punk bands like Black Flag (who, also
wouldn't exist without the Ramones; this list is exponential).
Cobain credited the Ramones' "I Just Wanna Have Something To Do" as huge inspiration for their '93 hit "Heart Shaped Box." Compare the Ramones' "Wait! Now!" to
Nirvana's "Hey! Wait!"
On the surface, Canada's Arcade Fire seems to have nothing to do with the Ramones. Underneath the lavish string arrangements, the horn section and the multitude of auxiliary instruments, is a 3 chord pop rock band. Check out "Month of May" to hear what we mean. It's Arcade Fire effortlessly being the Ramones.
When Metallica first came around, they looked like four trashy dirtbags. They were the guys that went to metal shows, they were their audience. Metallica's guitarist Kirk Hammett explained, "There were no standards after the Ramones. All you had to do was just be yourself." Regardless of their shortcomings, the young Metallica (zits and all) gave metal a kick in the ass.
See above for a Metallica cover of "Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue" by the Ramones.
When the Ramones played England on USA's 200th Independence Day, they inspired everyone in attendance to start playing. The Clash had been rehearsing and were waiting to be competent enough to perform live. Meeting the Ramones after the concert got them out of the garage and onto the stage.
Johnny Ramone famously told Joe Strummer, "We're lousy, we can't play. If you wait until you can play, you'll be too old to get up there." The Ramones proved that you don't have to play everything perfectly to be an amazing band.
Here's the Clash's "White Riot," a self-proclaimed Ramones rip-off.
Screeching Weasel started as a hardcore band. But it wasn't until they slowed down the tempo a bit and began writing three-chord pop songs that people started to listen. Many of the pop-punk bands around today are doing Screeching Weasel's version of the Ramones.
The Hives took Johnny Ramone's rules of singular band image to the extreme. The Hives are always wearing black and white; their individual identities are subservient to the group as a whole. The subject matter they tackle in the songs would've done the bruddas proud. The Ramones sung about Lobotomies, Psycho Therapy and Shock Treatment, the Hives sing about See-Thru Heads, Diabolic Schemes, and Idiots.
Above you'll find the Hives "AKA I.D.I.O.T.," the embodiment of the spirit of the Ramones.
Most people should know that the Beastie Boys began as a hardcore-punk band before becoming the hip-hop stars they are today. They even played a lot of the same clubs as the Ramones. When they became hip hop fulltime, they still let people know they loved punk rock.
Here's "High Plains Drifter," check the sample of the Ramone's "Suzy Is A Headbanger" at 3:45.
When we first heard the Strokes in 2001, it was like a mash-up of all the bands that played CBGBs in the 70's, with a bit of the Velvet Underground. Julian Casablancas croons with a desperation and passion that Joey Ramone perfected.
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Here are the Strokes covering the Ramones' "Life Is A Gas."
Hands down, these guys are the best band playing Ramones-style today. Like their forefathers, they won't get played on the radio; good thing no one listens to the radio anymore.