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Ramones Biography

Home > Music > R > Ramones > Biography

Birth Place: Forest Hills, Queens, New York, United States
Years Active: 1974–1996
Genres: Punk Rock

Ramones was an American rock band that formed in Forest Hills, Queens, New York in 1974, often cited as the first punk rock group. Despite achieving only limited commercial success, the band was a major influence on the punk rock movement both in the United States and the United Kingdom. All of the band members adopted pseudonyms ending with the surname “Ramone,” though none of them were actually related. They performed 2,263 concerts, touring virtually nonstop for 22 years. In 1996, after a tour with the Lollapalooza music festival, the band played a farewell concert and disbanded. By a little more than eight years after the breakup, the band's three founding members—lead singer Joey Ramone, guitarist Johnny Ramone, and bassist Dee Dee Ramone—had all died.

Ramones released their debut album, “Ramones,” in April 1976. Of the fourteen songs on the album, the longest, “I Don't Wanna Go Down to the Basement,” barely surpassed two-and-a-half minutes. The two singles released from the album, “Blitzkrieg Bop” and “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend,” failed to chart.

Their next two albums, “Leave Home” and “Rocket to Russia,” were released in 1977. Both were coproduced by Tommy Ramone and Tony Bongiovi, the second cousin of Jon Bon Jovi. “Leave Home” met with even less chart success than “Ramones,” though it did include “Pinhead,” which became one of the band's signature songs with its chanted refrain of “Gabba gabba hey!” “Rocket to Russia” was the band's highest-charting album to date, reaching #49 on the Billboard 200. The album also featured the first Ramones single to enter the Billboard charts “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker” which peaked at #81. The follow-up single, “Rockaway Beach,” reached #66, the highest any Ramones single would ever reach in America.

In 1978 the band released their album “Road to Ruin.” The album included the band's first two recorded songs longer than three minutes. It failed to reach the Billboard Top 100. However, “I Wanna Be Sedated,” which appeared both on the album and as a single, would become one of the band's best-known songs.

After the band's movie debut in Roger Corman's “Rock 'n' Roll High School” in 1979, renowned producer Phil Spector became interested in the Ramones and produced their 1980 album “End of the Century.” It was to be the highest-charting album in the band's history, reaching #44 in the United States and number 14 in Great Britain.

“Pleasant Dreams,” was released in 1981. “Pleasant Dreams” reached #58 on the U.S. chart, its two singles failed to register at all. Subterranean Jungle, was released in 1983. “Subterranean Jungle” peaked at #83 in the United States and would be the last album by the band to crack the Billboard Top 100.

After lineup changes, they released “Too Tough To Die” (1984), “Animal Boy” (1986) “Halfway to Sanity” (1987) and “Brain Drain” (1989) to close out the 1980s. Their first album of the next decade was 1992's “Mondo Bizarro.” “Acid Eaters,” consisting entirely of cover songs, came out the following year. In 1995, the Ramones released “¡Adios Amigos!,” their fourteenth studio album, and announced that they planned to disband if it was not successful. Its sales were unremarkable, garnering it just two weeks on the lower end of the Billboard chart.

Their only record with enough U.S. sales to be certified gold was the compilation album “Ramones Mania” (1988). Recognition of the band's importance built over the years, and they are now cited in many assessments of all-time great rock music. On March 18, 2002, the Ramones—including the three founders and drummers Marky and Tommy Ramone—were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.