Punk Then and Now by Joey Ramone

 

One of rock's true believers, Joey Ramone has spent two decades

fronting in New York punk institution the Ramones.

 


When the Ramones started in the mid-seventies, we were reacting against how bloated and serious and self-indulgent rock & roll had become. We had grown up on Top Forty AM radio, and we fell in love with the Beatles and the Rolling Stone and the Who and Little Richard and Buddy Holly, and later we got into the Stooges and the MC5 and the New York Dolls and Slade and T. Rex and Bowie and Mott the Hoople. For us, rock & roll was a magical and emotional and real. It was liberating and inspirational to us.

But by the mid-seventies, music was all about Emerson, Lake and Palmer and corporate rock and "Disco Duck" and "Convoy" and "The Night Chicago Died." There was no spirit left, no spark, no challenge, no fun, and so many artists had become so full of themselves. We just weren't hearing any music that we liked anymore, so we stripped in back down and put back the passion and energy and emotion that were missing from the music we were hearing at the time.

When the Ramones started, we didn't call what we were playing punk rock. We just knew that we were playing an exciting new kind of rock & roll, and eventually we were tagged punk rock by the press. We started playing at CBGB's in New York, and in 1976 we went to London and were playing for crowds of 3,000, and it seemed like everyone who came to our shows started bands. I think we kind of turned the world on its head, but we didn't mean to. We were just trying to make music that excited us. And since then, I think we've stuck our guns and strayed true to our original ideals, and
continued to make the kind of music that we found inspiring.

Over the last few years, the underground has become the mainstream, and bands like Metallica and the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Nirvana and Green Day and Offspring have taken the attitude that we started with and added their own individuality and uniqueness. It's nice when these bands come out and say that they were inspired by the Ramones.

I think that it's healthy time for music in America now, because people are selling a lot of records and its music that's creative and original. It feels like the kids are in charge again, instead of a bunch of old men dictating people's tastes, and that's good for the rock & roll. To me, punk is about being individual and going against the grain and standing up and saying "This is who i am." To me, John Lennon and Elvis Presley and were punks, because they made music that evoked those emotions in people. And as long as people are making music that does that, punk rock is alive and well.

 

A Reprint from the Rolling Stone book "ALT-ROCK-A-RAMA" (1996)

 

Contributed to the site by "Ziggy Ramone"

 

 

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