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End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones – Found on YouTube

“Pioneers Don’t Get the Full Glory” – Joey Ramone

Knowing the Ramones is a given these days, no matter if you label yourself as a punk or one who wants to wear a t-shirt from years past. What could be considered unknown is that the Ramones never got their due while touring and producing the tunes we love. You know them now, sure. To see them during their heyday meant you probably went to a club no one heard about, or read about them in a niche magazine, especially if you were in the United States. They never received radio play, they never sold records to be considered successful, and the world didn’t know them well until after they broke up. To understand this complex journey and the multitude of personalities that helped form the Ramones, you should check out the documentary – End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones found on YouTube (and embedded below).

Featuring interviews from all the important people in and around the Ramones, this documentary shares their story from beginning to end. At the start, you hear from childhood neighbors who share stories of four outsiders who bonded through music and eventually formed a band. Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee, and Tommy, as well as the members who joined later – Markey, C.J., and Richie – all have a moment to speak and share their version of what happened. Most of their tales can be a reminder of the tones and themes from the various biographies, memories, and autobiographies available in the literary world. Then you have countless managers like Danny Fields revealing his introduction to the revolutionary sound that is the Ramones, or writers like Legs McNeil, who saw the first performance by the Ramones at CBGBs back in 1974. Each sound bite is a moment into their world and a glimpse at historic moments we’ve all come to enjoy. And if that doesn’t do it for you, know that famous players like Lars Frederiksen from Rancid, John Frusciante from Red Hot Chili Peppers, and plenty more also add their two cents on what the Ramones meant to them.

These various interviews reveal how deep the tale of the Ramones can go. You can view this band as starting a sound, or music revolution, and the success they see at the present day. But it’s more than that. This band continually tried for mainstream success before retirement and never saw it. Even with defeat, they stuck to being who they were – the Ramones, which at times was also a struggle within the band. Many players including, Joey and Dee Dee, both felt their voices unheard and sought ways to fight conformity within what some could call a band that speaks to non-conformity. It’s complicated to say the least. Yet, hearing from the horse’s mouth (as they say) both the good and bad of the legendary punk rock band is truly eye-opening.

After seeing the film, I believe at the heart of this story is one of brotherhood. Despite the band member’s internal differences, each makes a comment about how music saved their lives. That if it wasn’t for the Ramones, they wouldn’t have survived or had a job. And, yes, there were arguments – hell many loved them for this – how early in their career they would shout at each other on stage only to pick up the instruments minutes later to perform together. That’s family, no? Surviving together, fighting together, loving together.

There is even clarification on the situation with Linda, a woman loved by Joey and married to Johnny. Once again, another complicated situation that the documentary explains never gets resolved. But what about punk is not. Complicated I mean. The idea is that most of us are screaming our heads off releasing anger or trying to put a message across, answering problems, while wondering why there is even a question to be answered in the first place. Yet, that’s what brings us to the punk rock family, and the Ramones showed us the way.

But enough from me. Watch the documentary – End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones – below and see for yourself.

Gabba, gabba.

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