The band Tangerine Puppets was started in Queens, New York City, by schoolmates John Cummings and Thomas Erdelyi in 1966. The guys soon met German transplant Douglas Colvin as well as Jeffery Hyman. Colvin and Cummings had started to play together and recruited Hyman in 1974. Colvin became the band’s bassist and started going by the name Dee Dee Ramone. “Ramone” was a reference to the name “Paul Ramon,” which had been used by Paul McCartney as the Beatles were starting out. Following “Dee Dee’s” lead, drummer Hyman became Joey Ramone and lead guitarist Cummings became Johnny Ramone. Joey took over the band’s singing duties, and since this left the group’s rhythm section vacant, drummer Thomas Erdelyi joined the band and became Tommy Ramone.
The aptly named “Ramones” performed for the first time on March 30th, 1974. The Ramones played New York City’s now legendary club, CBGB’s, for the first time on August 16th 1974. By the year’s end, the group had made more than 70 appearances at the venue. The band signed with Sire Records in 1975 and released their self-titled debut album “The Ramones,” on April 16th, 1976. Despite the fact that the record only made it to the #111 spot on the charts, it produced the songs “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend,” and the now famous “Blitzkrieg Bop.”
With an album under their belts and a growing fan base, the Ramones ventured across the pond. The band played at London’s The Roadhouse on July 4th, 1976. Apart from widening their own appeal overseas, the Ramones helped nourish the seeds of Punk movement in the UK, which was defined by bands such as the Sex Pistols and the Clash. After returning home, the group played at The Roxy on Hollywood’s infamous Sunset Strip, and released their second album. “Leave Home,” hit stores on January 10th, 1977 and charted lower than its predecessor, only reaching the #148 spot.
“Rocket to Russia” was released on November 4th, 1977. The record produced the songs “Sheena is a Punk Rocker,” “Teenage Lobotomy,” and was very well received by fans and critics alike, placing #49 on the charts. The next year Tommy exited the band to focus on producing their records. Drummer Marc Bell, known as Marky, became the group’s drummer and the band released the album “Road to Ruin,” on September 22nd, 1978. The album included what is arguably the Ramones most famous song “I Wanna Be Sedated.” The band continued to record and release records, and after 1983’s “Subterranean Jungle,” Marky was replaced by Richard Reinhardt, who became Richie Ramone. The album “Too Tough to Die” was released on November 3rd, 1984 and included the songs “Too Tough to Die,” “Wart Hog,” and “Durango 95.” Richie left the in August of 1987 and Marky rejoined shortly afterwards.
Founding member Dee Dee was replaced by Chistopher Joseph Ward who would be known as C.J. Ramone, in 1989. The Ramones continued to release albums throughout the early to mid 1990’s. The band embarked on its “Farewell Tour” which concluced on August 6th, 1996 at the Lollapalooza festival in Los Angeles, California. Remarkably, in less than 25 years the Ramones had performed a staggering 2,263 times securing their place in rock and roll history. Before this could be made official however, Joey Ramone lost his battle with cancer and died on April, 15th, 2001. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on February 24th, 2002. Sadly Douglas “Dee Dee” Colvin died of a drug overdose on June 5th of that same year. Shockingly, John “Johnny” Cummings, too, would succumb to prostate cancer on September 14th, 2004 leaving Thomas “Tommy” Erdelyi as the group’s only surviving founding member. Despite the fact that the Ramones never topped the charts, they left a lasting impression on music and pop-culture as a whole. They have been the inspiration for countless other groups, and have arguably helped shape the sound of today’s modern American Punk bands more than anyone else.