END OF THE CENTURY: The Ramones


The Legacy

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Johnny Ramone’s profile, with his trademark bowl haircut. 
Dee Dee Ramone, in a T-shirt, plays bass onstage. 
Joey Ramone’s profile, singing into a microphone.

“We were all outcasts. Maybe at one point, loners more so.”
—Joey Ramone

“The Ramones really invented a whole new genre. I don’t know if music would sound the same if it were not for the Ramones.”
—Rick Rubin, producer

Tommy, Dee Dee, Johnny and Joey, in the 1970s, standing outside in front of CBGB’s awning.
The original four Ramones in front of CBGB's

Dee Dee, Tommy and Marky Ramone accepting their awards at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Five statues sit on the podium.
Dee Dee, Tommy and Marky Ramone at the band's 2002 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

In 1974, the New York City music scene was shocked into consciousness by the violently new sound of a band from Queens: The Ramones. Playing in a seedy Bowery bar to a small group of fellow struggling musicians, the band struck a chord of disharmony that rocked the foundation of the placid mid-1970s music scene. Tracing the history of the band over three decades, END OF THE CENTURY is a vibrant, candid document of one of the most influential groups in the history of rock.

Although The Ramones never reached the top of the Billboard charts, they managed to endure interpersonal conflicts and fleeting successes by maintaining a rigorous touring schedule for more than 20 years. END OF THE CENTURY begins at the end of the band’s career, with their 2002 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Here, the wayward sons of rock were honored by an industry that had largely ignored them for decades. It was a triumphant yet bittersweet night for the band. As drummer Tommy Ramone acknowledged in his acceptance speech, members of the group were still bickering and battling over issues that transcended even the death of their singer, Joey. Despite the ongoing rancor, Tommy recalled the common background and bonds of brotherhood that recent animosity couldn't obscure.

The story of the Ramones began in Forest Hills, Queens, where four friends—Johnny, Dee Dee, Joey and Tommy—shared childhoods filled with alienation and angst, salvaged only by their common love of underground musicians such as Iggy Pop, The Stooges and The New York Dolls and a penchant for delinquency, glue sniffing and dark humor. In what now seems like a natural decision, they decided to form a band. With their stripped-down sound and machine-gun fast attack, they quickly became the darlings of the New York underground music scene, working with legendary manager Danny Fields.

Chrissie Hynde stands on the far left, posing casually, with all-male band members of The Ramones and The Damned.
The Ramones in London in 1976 with Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders and The Damned

On July 4, 1976, the Ramones invaded the U.K. and inspired the nascent British punk rock scene. Members of The Clash, The Sex Pistols, The Damned and Chrissy Hynde appeared at their first gig. The Ramones blitzed London, yet returned to the U.S. to mass indifference, despite inspiring countless bands with albums such as Rocket to Russia (1977) and Road to Ruin (1978).

The stress of touring and the pressure to sell records put a great deal of strain on the group's interpersonal relationships. Tommy—drummer, producer and one of the founders—left the band, and in a desperate attempt to release a hit record, the group enlisted the services of legendary producer Phil Spector. The making of the album that ensued, End of the Century (1980), was a disaster, with Spector forcing Dee Dee to play at gunpoint. The band was never the same. Johnny and Joey engaged in a power struggle over the band’s future, and Joey’s girlfriend left him for Johnny. Although the two men continued to tour together for years, they never spoke again.

Featuring interviews with all of the band members as well as musicians such as Deborah Harry, the late Joe Strummer and Eddie Vedder, END OF THE CENTURY follows The Ramones through the 1980s, when touring continued to be the band's sole source of income and the band cycled through new members Marky, C.J. and Ritchie. Although the band’s legacy includes such sad events as the premature deaths of Joey, Dee Dee and Johnny, The Ramones' influence on more than two generations of rock music is undeniable. As music journalist Legs McNeil says in the film, "The Ramones saved rock and roll."

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