It’s incredible how many massive/iconic/game-changing rock artists have covered the Ramones over the years. Some non-believers still deny the influence of the leather and denim clad long haired punks from New York; some just think “sure they influenced punk and sell a lot of t-shirts these days but so what?” But if you look at exactly who has covered their songs and paid tribute to them, especially since the turn of the century when one-by-one they started leaving us, you simply cannot help but acknowledge that the Ramones were – are - a very big deal.
Having shone a light on the Ramones’ influence on Australian music in our multi-part feature Gabba Gabba We Accept You: A Love Letter From Down Under To The Ramones! (final part of that coming next week folks!), ILYOS looks at some and the best and most significant Ramones covers out there, in a new two part series.
Hey ho, let’s go…
I’ll avoid featuring too many tracks from the Johnny Ramone-approved Ramones tribute album We're a Happy Family, but it’s kinda hard to go past this. Kiss were the biggest band in the US when the Ramones were still struggling on the Bowery, but the two bands have many shared roots, both stylistically, and geographically. And the individual Ramones all caught Kiss in their early club days – Joey’s early band Sniper used to ever play at the same club as Kiss, The Coventry in Queens. The Phil Spector Ramones original of Do You Remember Rock’n’Roll Radio is hard to beat, but Kiss do their best, especially Paul in a lung bustingly exuberant performance.
Bono and The Edge perform a sweet tribute to an ill Joey in New York in 2000. If you don’t think the Ramones could write great songs, just listen to this stripped back version of one of their lesser early songs.
Another guy who know a thing or two about great songwriting. Beautiful version of a beautiful song about life in a band on the road. Tom also did a cool “Return of Jackie & Judy” on the Ramones tribute album We're a Happy Family.
Like Waits, the RHCP’s had a musical strength of character to fairly drastically rearrange this early Ramones blaster. This one kicked off the tribute album We're a Happy Family, but here’s a hot live version for ya.
Dee Dee wrote some heart rending tunes late in his time in the Ramones; this one is a song for the ages. Another one from We're a Happy Family. Chrissie, in her pre-Pretenders days in London, wrote for the NME and was any Ramones champion.
Any punky pop band in the late ‘70s/80s was directly influenced by the Ramones, and the Go-Gos started up a lot punkier than they ended up. It’s great to see them revisiting their roots in this reformation show from 2001.
After a slightly shaky start, Debbie nails this heartbreaking late period song written by Dee Dee and originally demo’ed by former Dead Boys singer Stiv Bators – he and Dee Dee were forming a band with the New York Dolls’ Johnny Thunders at the time (here comes trouble!). The Ramones cut it – after Dee Dee had left - on Mondo Bizarro in 1992. This live version from Blondie is from CBGB’s in 2006 – assumedly from the venue’s closing ceremonies.
Eddie cut this for We’re A Happy Family but we love this great live version from the show in LA in 2006 that resulted in the film Too Tough To Die: A Tribute to Johnny Ramone. Marky Ramone on drums, CJ Ramone on bass, Tim Armstrong and possibly Brett Gurewitz from Bad Religion on guitars.
The Clash, like any punk band that formed after the release of the Ramones’ first album, were hugely influenced by the Ramones. When Joe was performing this track live in 2002 – no doubt as a tribute to both Joey and Dee Dee who passed away in 2001 and 2002 respectively - he couldn’t have realised that in a few short months people would be eulogising him as well.
This all-female Japanese trio have ridden a wave of tuneful fuzzy guitars and a Ramones-style naivety since 1981. Feted over the years by the likes of Sonic Youth, Redd Kross and most noticably Nirvana, they are a deceptively influential band. This is taken from a whole album of Ramones albums they released in 2011 called Osaka Ramones
The Runaways surfaced in LA at roughly the same time the Ramones appeared out of New York. Whilst the other Runaways veered more towards hard rock, Joanie was always into punk, pop and glam, and could’ve been the sister that the Ramones boys never had. Another track from the documentary Too Tough To Die: A Tribute to Johnny Ramone, recorded live in LA in 2006 with Marky, CJ, sometimes Ramones producer Daniel Rey and Bill Stevenson of LA punks the Descendants and All.
This one’s not from the We’re A Happy Family tribute album, but it’s a ripping version from the pioneering thrash metal band. Sounds a lot like the Ramones in fact!
We’ll be back with Part Two – and Ramones covers from Soundgarden, the Foo Fighters, the Strokes, Garbage, Ronnie Spector, Metallica, Green Day, Hoodoo Gurus and Bruce Springsteen - soon!
If you want more Ramones, you can, of course, stream their classic stuff on Spotify. Check out our I Like: the Ramones playlist and go from there!
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