We bid farewell to the late Ramones drummer via the best of the band on film, 1974-1978.
“When you BOO the Ramones, you are booing rock n’roll,” so said Supersuckers’ frontguy Eddie Spaghetti. They could be the truest words ever uttered.
Tommy Ramone, who died on Friday (July 11) at the age of 65, was the band’s first official drummer and the cool, streetwise rogue in the shrunken black T-shirt and oversized shades staring out from the cover of that 29-minute-sprint-to-the-finish first album.
An original member of the band, Tommy’s tenure in the group would last until 1978. During that time he played on arguably their three greatest records (Ramones, Leave Home and Rocket To Russia), co-producing each and underpinning the songs with a high-energy, no-frills style that combined with Johnny Ramone’s buzzsaw guitar to propel their music to thrillingly unhinged heights.
And if proof were needed of the New York punk icons’ foundation status in rock’s edifice, one need only survey the video evidence corralled below.
Strap yourself in, and prepare to break the sound barrier with the Ramones Mark I at their very, very best.
Great historical documents:
1. Judy Is A Punk:
Poor sound quality from this early CBGB showcase barely compromises a priceless period piece, as the chatter of the sparsely-populated audience are obliterated by the group’s primitive punk spew.
2. Loudmouth (Rehearsal footage,1975):
Transitional Joey shapes, but a newly powerful sound, live from Arturo Vega’s loft, Marchi 1975. Loudmouth has the best sound, then it enjoyably degenerates into footage shot off a TV screen.
3. Max’s Kansas City 1976 (two songs)
Super-tight thrill-kill assault on Max’s Kansas City. Pity that poor waitress…
4. “It’s Alive”, Pt.1 (full show, 1977)
My… how they’ve grown! Rightly legendary New Year’s Eve show at London’s Rainbow Theatre, later immortalized on the It’s Alive album, kicking off, as it should, with Blitzkrieg Bop. Guitar sound like being smashed in the face by Johnny Ramone, forever.
5. “It’s Alive”, Pt2 (Live London 1977, Pt2 – full show)
More of the awesome same. Note non-uniform punk audience featuring prog guy in big-ol’ shirt collars and fishing hat. And are you the Bay City Rollers lookalike doing the “wanker” sign during Cretin Hop?
6. “It’s Alive”, Pt3 (Live London, 1977, full show)
Dee Dee starts to look a bit tired, but the precision blaming never quite lets up. Witness the instant segue from Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue and closer We’re A Happy Family.
7. “Rockaway Beach”, 1978
Joey giving it loads to a hypnotized/bemused Hamburg TV audience, plus four kids going mental.
8. “Sheena Is A Punk Rocker” (1978)
The band’s pop-punk masterpiece, rendered in all its live glory on German TV in 1978.
9. Live at CBGB’s, Pt.1, 1977
Punk’s original fab four return to their home-from-home on June 10, 1977.
10. Live at CBGB’s, Pt.2, 1977
Part two of the band’s 1977 CBGB’s gig. Dig Tommy’s T-shirt featuring Easy Rider-style chopper.
Interview with The Ramones