Sunday, March 31, 2013

Song Of The Week: 3/31/13

Song: "Pinhead"

Artist: Ramones

Album: "Leave Home"

Year: 1977

"Pinhead" was inspired by the Ramones watching the 1932 film "Freaks". The song became a big anthem for the band and introduced the rallying cry "Gabba Gabba Hey". The song was a staple of their live shows and a definite crowd favorite. The Ramones formed as a band back in 1974 in New York City. The band featured Joey Ramone on vocals, Johnny Ramone on guitar, Dee Dee Ramone on bass and Tommy Ramone on drums. The band is almost synonomous with legendary punk venue CBGB. In August of 1974, the Ramones made their CBGB debut, then played the club a whopping seventy-four more times before the end of that year. In 1975, the band was signed to Sire Records and in 1976, the band's classic debut album, "Ramones", was released. It was around this time that their sound was labeled as "punk" and a new genre was about to assault the music world. The Ramones legendary gigs, one at the Roundhouse in London and the other at The Roxy in Los Angeles helped galvanize the punk rock movement. Soon The Clash, Sex Pistols and Black Flag would be directly influenced to create their own punk anthems, due to seeing the Ramones live. In 1977, the Ramones released "Leave Home" and "Rocket To Russia". The single "Rockaway Beach" reached number 66 on the Billboard charts, the highest any Ramones single would reach in the U.S. '77 also saw the release of a double live album called "It's Alive". In 1978, Tommy Ramone decided he would no longer be the drummer but would stay on to produce Ramones' albums. Marky Ramone would take over on drums and the band would release "Road To Ruin" which featured the classic "I Wanna Be Sedated". In 1979, the Ramones appeared in the movie "Rock'n'Roll High School". In 1980, Phil Spector produced the album "End Of The Century". At number 44, it was the band's highest charting album but guitarist Johnny Ramone felt that the sound was watered down, especially on the more aggressive tracks. Another disappointment was 1981's "Pleasant Dreams", which Joey Ramone claimed was the record company's futile attempt to get on American radio. In 1983, the band released "Subterranean Jungle". This album was the last Ramones album to crack the Billboard Top 100. Marky Ramone was also fired and Richie Ramone took over drumming duties. Joey Ramone felt that Richie breathed new life into the band, both with his drum playing, his vocals and his songwriting capabilities. In 1984, the band released "Too Tough To Die". "Bonzo Goes To Bitburg" was released as a single in 1985 but was re-titled "My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down" and included on 1986's "Animal Boy". 1987's "Halfway To Sanity" would be the last album to feature Richie Ramone on drums. His replacement, Clem Burke of Blondie (Elvis Ramone), proved to be disastrous as he was fired after just two shows. Marky Ramone returned as the drummer at this time. 1989 saw the release "Brain Drain". Dee Dee Ramone decided to leave the band at this time. He was replaced on bass by C.J. Ramone. In 1992, the Ramones left longtime label Sire and signed with Radioactive Records. Their first release with them was "Mondo Bizarro". In 1993, the Ramones released a cover album entitled "Acid Eaters". In 1995, the Ramones released their very last studio effort called "Adios Amigos". They embarked on a farewell tour and also joined that year's Lollapalooza tour. On August 6, 1996, the Ramones performed their last show at the Palace in Hollywood. The show was packaged as a cd/dvd called "We're Outta Here". In 1999, Dee Dee, Johnny, Joey, Tommy, Marky and C.J. appeared at the Virgin Megastore in New York City. This marked the last time the original four members of the group appeared together. On April 15, 2001, Joey Ramone passed away after his long battle with lymphoma. In 2002, the Ramones were inducted into the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame. On June 5, 2002, Dee Dee Ramone was found dead at his home, the victim of a heroin overdose. 2004 saw the release of the documentary, "End Of The Century: The Story Of The Ramones". Then, on September 15, 2004, the band lost yet another member as Johnny Ramone died from his battle with prostate cancer. That very same day, the first official Ramones Museum opened it's doors in Berlin, Germany. In 2007, a dvd was released called "It's Alive: 1974-1996". This collection featured 118 songs from 33 performances throughout the band's career. Finally in 2011, the Ramones received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Though the Ramones ceased to be a band after 1996 and despite the tragic deaths of three of their original members, there is no denying the impact that they made on the music world. While it can argued whether or not the Ramones are the first official punk band, there are absolutely no arguments that can be made about how influential they were to punk and garage bands all over the world. 1977 was a prominent time in the musical landscape. Punk rock provided a jolt to what was becoming a stale time in music and the Ramones were at the forefront of that.

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