On Friday July 11, Tommy Ramone died. Born Tamás Erdélyi, he was the drummer and last survivor of the Ramones, whose members adopted the last name used by Paul McCartney to reserve hotel rooms as a Beatle.
The Ramones were not known as great musicians, but the band has been acknowledged by many as the inventors of punk rock. They began life in Forest Hills, Queens, about the same time I was growing up on Staten Island.
In 2002, the Ramones were ranked the second-greatest band of all time by Spin magazine, trailing only the Beatles. On March 18, 2002, the Ramones—the founders and drummer Marky Ramone, who succeeded Tommy when he left the band—were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2011, the group was awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
The Ramones 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. Among the Ramones best-known songs was "I Wanna Be Sedated,” a song I still sing to me-self, especially after watching the evening news or for that matter the morning news and the mid-day news. I don’t like the term rest in peace, so I’ll just say rock on, Tommy, rock on!
Another group, associated with but not totally affiliated with punk rock of the 1970’s, was Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers. I say not totally punk rock because they were what is known as proto-punk, which is the music from the mid-1960’s to mid-1970’s that influenced punk rock and is not a distinct musical genre, covering a wide range of musical backgrounds and styles including garage rock. Boston can claim the Modern Lovers as our own even though Richman moved to California in 1975. He recorded a few tunes, came to his senses, and moved back to Boston and formed a new version of the Modern Lovers in 1976.
Oddly enough, according to a survey taken by voters on the punk forum at musicianforums.com, neither the Ramones nor the Modern Lovers made the top 100, but Boston’s own Dropkick Murphys came in at number 16.
From country to punk, I still believe that those in my age group grew up in the best of all musical times with artists like Jonathan Richmond and the Modern Lovers, the Ramones, The Cars, Pink Floyd, Queen, the Rolling Stones, The Who, The Doors, Jimmy Hendrix, of course Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, the Eagles, Creedence Clearwater Revival…. Sorry, kids, you can’t touch this.
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