END OF THE CENTURY: The Ramones


The Legacy

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The Music

During their 22 years together, The Ramones recorded 14 studio albums, released four live albums and three compilations, and starred in one movie, the 1979 Rock ‘N’ Roll High School. With an average of one new album every 18 months, the originators of pop punk were one of the most prolific and hardest-working bands in rock history, from their humble Queens beginnings in 1974 to their final concert—number 2,263—in Los Angeles in 1996. Looking at the evolution of their music is like looking at the band’s history: creative, tumultuous, unpretentious, slightly unpredictable and always true to itself.

Editor's Note: Due to The Ramones' music copyrights, we are unable to provide audio clips or lyrics from the songs referenced on this Web site.

Get the backstory on The Ramones' 14 studio albums:

1976: RAMONES (Sire)
The Ramones recorded their first studio album in one ten-hour session, setting a precedent for the grueling work schedule that would remain their trademark. At 14 songs, Ramones still clocks in at less than 30 minutes, with the tracks ranging from 90 seconds to two-and-a-half minutes in length. Ramones also trademarked the band’s sound: stripped-down rock and roll with pop hooks, a combination that, at the time of its recording, was unlike any other music out there—as were the lyrics. As Joey Ramone, who wrote the album’s “Beat on the Brat” about “brats in Queens,” said, “We couldn’t write about love or cars, so we sang about stuff like glue sniffing. We thought we could get away with anything.”
Album cover for Ramones
1977: LEAVE HOME (Sire)
Recorded just six months after their first album, Leave Home, co-produced by Tommy Ramone, was another instant classic with an illustrative “behind-the-scenes” history. “Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment” was written in Arturo Vega’s loft, where the band members lived and rehearsed—Vega was also The Ramones’ longtime friend and artistic director. “Glad To See You Go” was a duo effort from the songwriting team of Joey and Dee Dee: Joey wrote the song after Dee Dee wrote the lyrics and left the loft to score drugs. “Carbona Not Glue,” written about a brand of cleaning fluid one could sniff to get high, was yanked from subsequent releases of the album in order to avoid any potential lawsuits.
Album cover for Leave Home
1977: ROCKET TO RUSSIA (Sire)
When The Ramones released their third album, they were feeling optimistic. They had toured England the previous year, were being credited as punk pioneers by fans around the world, and were thought to be on the cusp of major success. High speed, high energy and more accessible than their first two albums, Rocket to Russia contained such iconic Ramones songs as “Sheena is a Punk Rocker,” “Rockaway Beach” and “Teenage Lobotomy.” This pivotal album was meant to be the band’s ticket to true commercial fame, and is widely regarded as their best. Johnny Ramone cited it as his favorite Ramones album because “it had the most hits.” But the album failed to live up to its expectations, and the band was disappointed when singles such as “Sheena” did not receive enough radio play.
Album cover for Rocket to Russia
1978: ROAD TO RUIN (Sire/Warner Brothers)
After the commercial letdown of Rocket to Russia, The Ramones were in a funk, exhausted from constant touring and feeling pressure to be more radio-friendly in order to sell more records. By their fourth album, Tommy Ramone had quit playing drums for the band in order to concentrate more on production, and was replaced by Marky Ramone. Road to Ruin contained several more pop-friendly hits, including the Sonny and Cher cover “Needles and Pins” and the classic “I Wanna Be Sedated.” Joey wrote “Sedated” following a bad accident in which a makeshift humidifier exploded in his face before a concert. He finished the show before being rushed to the hospital.
Album cover for Road to Ruin
1980: END OF THE CENTURY (Sire)
End of the Century marked a turning point in Ramones history. After filming the teen revolt comedy movie Rock ‘N’ Roll High School—Joey originally wrote the title song as a riff on 1960s teen beach party films—they realized that they needed outside help to create a “hit” record. The band hired veteran producer Phil Spector in place of Tommy for their next album. Spector’s notorious eccentricity clashed with The Ramones, however, and the recording sessions were rocky at best. Spector was obsessive, once pulling a gun on Dee Dee and forcing the band play the opening chord of “Rock ‘N’ Roll High School” for eight consecutive hours. The album, while polished and pop-like, failed to meet expectations as a Top 40 hit. It also represented the ongoing clash between Joey—who wanted to move towards pop music—and Johnny, who wanted the band to remain punk. Personal tensions grew as Johnny and Joey were fighting, Dee Dee was using too many drugs and Marky was adjusting to being the newest Ramone.
Album cover for End of the Century
1981: PLEASANT DREAMS (Sire)
The Ramones’ frustration after their experience with End of the Century emerged on Pleasant Dreams in such speak-for-themselves songs as “We Want the Airwaves.” Co-produced by Britpop artist Graham Gouldman, the album exemplified The Ramones’ style—unclassifiable by mainstream radio at the time—with such pop classics as “The KKK Took My Baby Away” and “She’s A Sensation,” which Joey wrote for Linda, his erstwhile girlfriend and Johnny’s future wife.
Album cover for Pleasant Dreams
1983: SUBTERRANEAN JUNGLE (Sire)
After the poppier sounds of Pleasant Dreams, The Ramones returned to their 1970s punk sensibilities in Subterranean Jungle, with more garage rock styled songs such as “Psycho Therapy.” This album marked the end of Marky’s first stint with the band. As his drinking grew more and more out of control and he began skipping shows, he left the band in the middle of recording and was quickly replaced by Richie Ramone.
Album cover for Subterranean Jungle
1984: TOO TOUGH TO DIE (Sire/Warner Brothers)
Tommy Ramone returned to producing for The Ramones after a five-year hiatus. Now in their early 30s and approaching their tenth anniversary together, The Ramones were also maturing musically, in their own ways. Dee Dee and Johnny became friends again after a long rift, and this harmony was apparent: Too Tough to Die is known as the last “truly classic” Ramones album.
Album cover for Too Tough to Die
1986: ANIMAL BOY (Sire/Warner Brothers)
Produced by the ex-Plasmatics bass player Jean Beauvior, Animal Boy was clearly a product of the Eighties, with straightforward rock backed by electronic effects and synthesizer keyboards, and a polished sound that was more pop than punk. “Bonzo Goes to Bitburg” criticized Ronald Reagan’s trip to a World War II military cemetery in Bitburg, Germany, while “Somebody Put Something in My Drink” was allegedly based on Richie Ramone drinking a cocktail that was spiked with LSD.
Album cover for Animal Boy
1987: HALFWAY TO SANITY (Sire)
Halfway to Sanity illustrates some of the band’s 1950s influences with “Bye Bye Baby,” a ballad that Joey later sang as a duet with Ronnie Spector, and “Camaro,” with Blondie’s Deborah Harry on backing vocals. Richie quit The Ramones unexpectedly shortly after the album was completed.
Album cover for Halfway to Sanity
1989: BRAIN DRAIN (Sire)
By 1989, The Ramones’ fragmentation had long been apparent. Marky had returned as the drummer, and as Dee Dee began recording rap records under the name Dee Dee King, he decided to finally leave the band, news that Johnny received via a telephone call from their management office. Brain Drain featured songs that Dee Dee wrote, such as “I Believe in Miracles.” It also contained the catchy “Palisades Park” and “Pet Semetary”—later appearing in the movie with the same name—which both received radio play.
Album cover for Brain Drain
1992: MONDO BIZARRO (Radioactive Records)
Produced by Ed Stasium, who co-produced five of The Ramones’ early albums, Mondo Bizarro continued to feature Dee Dee’s songs, even though he had long left the band. As Dee Dee’s replacement, bassist C.J. Ramone sung two of the songs on his first Ramones' studio album, which also contained tracks with guest musicians such as Living Colour’s Vernon Reid.
Album cover for Mondo Bizarro
1993: ACID EATERS (MCA)
In an homage to their favorite classic rock influences, this “covers misfire” showcased The Ramones’ takes on such songs as The Rolling Stones’ “Out of Time,” Jefferson Airplane’s “Somebody to Love,” The Who’s “Substitute” and even Bob Dylan’s “My Back Pages.”
Album cover for Acid Eaters
1995: ADIOS AMIGOS! (Radioactive Records)
As the title suggests, Adios Amigos! was The Ramones’ swan song, hearkening back to their early days with the stripped-down sound and three-chord progression that made them famous and the “1-2-3-4!” opening counts of the band’s 1970s-era material. Ex-bassist Dee Dee was responsible for writing several of the songs, but the lyrics were bittersweet, with Joey singing such lines as “I don’t have illusions anymore… I’ve done all I can do.”
Album cover for Adios Amigos!

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