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Happy Birthday Joey Ramone
Fast, raw and energetic, the Ramones lit the punk-rock scene alight with their gutter-punk anthems and unpolished image. Formed in 1974 by Jeffrey Ross Hyman, Douglas Colvin and John Cummings, the band are best known under their alter-egos, Joey, DeeDee and Johnny, all sharing the ‘Ramone’ surname. Lead vocalist, Joey, had previously performed as singer in the glam-punk band Sniper under the name Jeff Starship, dressed in jumpsuits and knee-high platform boots adorned in rhinestones.
This look was not to stay with Joey for long, as he discarded the glitter and glamour when he initially became drummer in the Ramones. DeeDee relinquished the role of lead singer after his vocal chords struggled to cope with the strain of live performances; the band were prolific when it came to gigging and soon became household names at the likes of CBGB in New York.
Blending the grimy sounds of New York street life with bopping 60’s girl group melodies, the Ramones were influenced by the pop music of their youth and were committed to revitalizing the downtown music scene. A rebellious antidote to the perky disco music and indulgent rock that infiltrated 1970s culture, the band valued energy and attitude over musical proficiency.
Joey’s imperfect crooning and New York drawl was the perfect melody to accompany the fast, three-chord rock and roll riffs and became the soundtrack of the punk-rock music scene. In person, Joey was remembered as shy and softly spoken, a manner that seems at odds with the bands brash and unapologetic songs.
Ultimately, Joey and the Ramones led the charge of social misfits who refused to conform, inspiring bands across both sides of the ocean such as the Clash, the Sex Pistols and the Damned. The Ramones trademark, scruffy wardrobe of ripped jeans, tatty sneakers, too-tight t-shirts and leather jackets became the uniform of counter-culture youth and remains a style influence to this day. While any commercial success was limited by their ramshackle, back-to-basics music and nonchalant attitude, the Ramones are now cult heroes across the world.
In the words of Joey Ramone; ‘… punk is about being an individual and going against the grain and standing up and saying ‘This is who I am’.”