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Pioneers of Punk: The Ramones Remembered

HOST INTRO: The classic punk band The Ramones is being honored at The Queens Museum with a new exhibit “Hey! Ho! Let’s go! Ramones and the birth of punk.” Dubbed the “pioneers of punk” with its  catchy lyrics and fast tempos the band has left a legacy on the genre of rock. However, its success didn’t come as quickly. As Amina Lovell reports The Ramones debut album didn’t go gold until 2014, nearly four decades after its release. (0:16)

LOVELL 1: A line of over 3,500 fans wraps around the outside of the Queens museum eagerly awaiting the chance to pay tribute to the legendary band and the 40 year anniversary of its debut album. Peppered into the diverse crowd you see the iconic “uniform” of The Ramones. Converse sneakers, tight blue jeans and black leather jackets adorned with punk pins and buttons. 34 year old Sarah Celentano has been waiting two hours.

CELENTANO.S 1: “Having parents who were around in the 70s and were really into the music scene then. I get to hear interesting stories about what it was like to be apart of that early nascent fan base.” (0:10)

LOVELL 2: Her father Joseph Celentano turned her on to the band with stories of its early formative days. It was 1972 – CBGB’s. He and his friends walked in, grabbed a drink and were blown away

CELENTANO 1: When the first note came on it was like a tornado hit you. You knew ahh this is why i’m here.” (0:06)

LOVELL 3: To sit literally feet away from Jeffrey Hyman, John Cummings, Douglas Colvin and Tom Erdelyi. Better known as Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy Ramone.

CELENTANO 2: “ And I gotta tell you, when I go home now and their song comes on the radio, I feel exactly the same way at 61 years old when I hear that music. Same exact way.” (0:08)

LOVELL 3: The Ramones were fast and loud. Sped up guitar. Racing drums. And catchy lyrics. They were new and different, something most people hadn’t heard which appealed to an international audience. On July 4th 1976 they travelled to England and played their first record.

CACCIOLA 1: “That record is the blueprint for both thrash metal and the hardcore punk scene.” (0:05)

LOVELL 4: Joseph Cacciola is Vice President of Research and Analysis at Warner Music Group and he says their debut was the start of punk music.

CACCIOLA 2: “Like one thing that both those subgenres agreed on was that The Ramones are the really the ones that kicked off like – ‘hey quickly can you play?’ The concept of you know Tommy’s drum playing, the beat that he kept, some of the timing signatures on some of those songs were insane it’s like 160/170 beats. That’s not something anyone really did before then.” (0:20)

LOVELL 5: And it was those quick, loud and catchy rhythms from their debut album that inspired dozens of bands .That very night in England..July 4th 1976. The Clash and the Sex Pistols were in the crowd and attribute The Ramones as their catalyst.

But in America their album wasn’t amounting to much. It only reached 111 on the Billboard Charts. Cacciola says the band’s expectations for the the album were a little high.

CACCIOLA 3 : “They actually thought they were going to be bigger than the Beatles. And you listen to it and it’s about sniffing glue and hiding in the basement, they flirt with nazism and its just like normal people don’t think like that. …..”

MILLER 1:  “….they never quite lived up to expectations.” (0:15)

LOVELL 5: That’s Marc Miller the curator of  The Ramones exhibition.

MILLER 2: “The records only sold modestly while little by little that built up big followings internationally that was pretty invisible in America.”(

LOVELL 6: Until the internet, which gave new fans easy access to the band’s catalog of old albums. Finally giving the band enough sales of 500,000 copies to go gold on April 30th 2014 .

But for original fans like the Celentano’s The Ramones counterculture lyrics immediately struck a chord with both the father and daughter.

LOVELL 7: “What impact would you say did the Ramones had on you as an individual?”

CELENTANO.S 2: “Not giving up, when things don’t immediately turn out for you and I think you could say that pretty broadly for most of the punk scene. It’s just if you are passionate about something and you really believe in something you do it for you. And not so much the critical response or you now popularity or I guess material successes.” (0:22)  

LOVELL 8:  The band’s lyrics preach perseverance. And 40 years later it’s clear the band’s struggle led to success. Its debut album changed the genre of punk forever.

Amina Lovell, Columbia Radio News

Back end announce: Hey! Ho! Let’s Go Ramones and the Birth of Punk… will be at the Queens Museum through July 31st. That was a wasted opportunity here – music needed to be louder!

Music louder!! And, a little more of it.


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