In 1967, Rock and Roll irreversibly split – fans of the live sound at the Monterrey Pop Festival (where the Beatles couldn’t play) would go on to form hard rock and heavy metal, and fans of The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper album (which sounds like shit live) formed pop. By the early 70s, safe pop rock had taken over the radio airwaves. The meandering sound of the time was technically complex, and in many ways artistically brilliant, but it had a giant flaw: You couldn’t dance to it.
Four middle class kids from Queens, New York wanted to change that. They wanted to bring back the “Rock and Roll Dance Party”. They were fans of the minimalist garage rock style of the bands that flourished in the underground night clubs of New York at the time, such as the Dictators, New York Dolls, and the Stooges. The four “brothers” formed a band and each adopted the last name “Ramone”. They stripped songs down to their most primal, and built them back up with three chords and two minutes of solid sound. The Ramones swept the club scene of New York in 1975 performing covers of 50’s and 60’s songs, rebooted in their own unique way.
In January 1976, they spent $6400 and two weeks recording their eponymous debut album. On 23 April 1976, the album was released and on the cover was the now iconic shot of the four band members leaning against a wall. Anyone who was anyone had to have that shot of their band. That single shot and simple sound convinced thousands of kids that they too could be rock and roll stars. Hundreds of new bands on both sides of the Atlantic began to emulate their simple, near sololess sound. The Ramones were the perfect combination of 50s energy, 60s teenage angst (rooted in the perception that they missed out on their older brother’s and sister’s fun in the “Summer of Love”) and 70s speed. Critics hated the album, and radio stations refused to play it.
Fuck’em: Punk was born.