The Ramones Calling Card
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With their long, disheveled hair, skinny, ripped jeans, and worn t-shirts covered up by black leather jackets, the Ramones certainly had a unique image. And this image soon became iconic. But if there was one thing that served as the Ramones calling card, it has to be their electric live performances. The Ramones first made a name for themselves while playing shows at the now-famous CBGB club in Manhattan. And though they would get signed to a record company and release many albums, they were first and foremost a touring band. For one thing, they had to do this in order to remain financially afloat, since none of their records were huge commercial hits. The Ramones toured practically non-stop for 22 years. They continued touring even as Joey and Johnny Ramone grew increasingly estranged with one another (Johnny married a woman that Joey had been dating).
Though it may have been out of necessity, the Ramones consistently delivered in their live sets, putting forth all the energy they could muster. They played their songs live even faster than they did in their recordings, as Tommy (though the Ramones did go through a few other drummers as time went on) pounded the drums as hard and fast as he could. And the rest of the band followed suit. Each song would flow directly into the next, as Dee Dee counted off with a "one, two, three, four." It was this raw energy that allowed the Ramones to resonate with so many fans. These were four guys that were on stage, having fun playing music. And that raw joy and excitement was contagious, as their fans got into the spirit. And that was precisely the way the Ramones wanted it, because first and foremost, the Ramones were about having fun. Though not entirely apolitical, the Ramones were unlike many later punk groups, who were major proponents of anarchy. The only message the Ramones really wanted to send had to do with rock and roll music. And this message was made loud and clear less through their lyrics and more through their thrashing and frantic guitar, bass, and drums.
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