Half of The Beatles are still with us, most of The Rolling Stones, (Brian Jones died in 1969, and keyboardist/co-founder Ian Stewart, who was dismissed from the band in 1963, but contributed to most every album released from 1964 to 1986 is also gone), half of The Who, half of The Doors, three quarters of The Kinks, Led Zeppelin and Queen, two thirds of Nirvana, and at the peak of their success, three members of Lynyrd Skynyrd died in a plane crash. Jimi Hendrix, Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding are all gone, but Billy Cox is still alive (although he was not a member of the original Jimi Hendrix Experience).
We have lost many “singular” musical icons, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Janis Joplin, Mama Cass, Michael Jackson, etc. The list goes on and on, as could I, but I think I have made a point here. Damn near every band of the past few decades that made an impact on modern music, or were popular, are for the most part, still intact. That being said, since we last met here, The Ramones are all gone.
With Tommy Ramone’s (Thomas Erdelyi) passing last week, all four original members, those four “punk kids” from Forest Hills in the New York City borough of Queens, are making the Heavens a little louder. I would have never guessed it. As far as bands that helped define not only a style, but a genre of music, I will miss them, especially, that original line up. I was very fortunate to have seen the Ramones quite a few times over the years, but that original band is what got my attention. I have experienced that feeling a few times with bands I have seen over the decades, Cheap Trick in their club days, Chicago punk legend Skafish, and the Midwest Power Pop of Off Broadway (a band I have seen in every incarnation, both before and after, more than any other band in my life. Seeing those bands for the first time (and some for the very first time), I knew there was something very special happening on those stages. Rock and Roll being defined in new ways.
I had the honor of being a small part of the first time the Ramones came to Chicago to play. A cold, snowy night on March 26, 1977 at the Countryside Civic Center (not what it sounds like) at 55th and East Ave. in Countryside, IL, a stones throw from the Chicago city limits. I was doing flyers for shows that a good friend of mine was producing/promoting and this particular one featured bands, mostly local, Chicago area talent. (I will go into complete detail about this show on a future installment) We had a call about a week before the show of a ‘punk’ band from NY, the Ramones, that were looking for a Chicago area gig.
I had certainly heard of them, and was familiar with the music, as it was more to my liking. Immediately, they were added to the bill as well as the flyer, I believe playing second of the four bands. (I think they were paid $200 for the show) The "Brothers Ramone" hit that stage and about 35 minutes after that initial “One, Two, Three, Four!” they were done. I was hooked for life. The energy of that set, the steady, rapid fire drumming of Tommy, and the three other members in their torn blue jeans, and black leather jackets were amazing. The non stop buzz saw guitar playing of Johnny on his Mosrite, Dee Dee relentlessly pounding those 4 strings on his Danelectro bass, and tall, gangly singer Joey singing through that mop of hair almost covering his face and sunglasses, something special was indeed happening. I recently came across a few photos from that show, over 37 years ago.
The crowd was “somewhat” receptive to their sonic assault, some getting into it, while others thankful it was a short set, waiting for “their” bands to play. Afterward, they hung out, talked, laughed and were glad to have made their Chicagoland debut. In the following months, they returned to local area venues, with a more “balanced” bill, playing with the likes of Iggy Pop, Chicago punk stalwarts Tutu and the Pirates, and others, and the crowds were there to completely embrace them. I was grateful for what I perceived as a “private show” of the good things to come.
I think Little Steven (Van Zandt) sums it up the best on his “Underground Garage” radio show when he described it as “It’s all about the Ramones, all the bands that came before them, and all the bands that came after them.”
For me, that defines it. The records, the subject matter of some of their songs, their choice of cover songs, Rock and Roll High School’, and that iconic logo that is recognizable throughout the universe, they were indeed something special. Peace Within, Ramones, and Thank You. You will live forever through your music.
Gabba Gabba Hey!
“Blitzkreig Bop” at CBGB’s back in New York after that first Chicago show.
A full Ramones show at CBGB’s (in two parts) about 3 months after that Chicago debut.
“Hey Ho! Let’s Go!”
Godspeed Johnny, Tommy, Dee Dee and Joey.
I was able to get out a few times the past few weeks and now that summer is with us, returned to a few of my favorite areas to shoot a few photos of what has become a “seasonal change” to that subject matter. Duncan Manor in Towanda, IL was looking good in the setting sunlight. They follow below. (I do have to keep aggravating that carpal tunnel syndrome, all my scrolling has caused you, the faithful followers of my ramblings.)
I want to take this opportunity to once again, remind all of you to please stop in and check out July’s Gallery Show by local artist and jeweler Kathy Sancken. (As I mentioned in my last column here.) The show “Encircled: Art of the Necklace”, will be on display at the Pontiac Community Art Center Gallery located at 103 W. Madison St., Pontiac. The show will feature contemporary handmade glass necklaces along with a mosaic necklace sculpture. Over 40 necklaces are on display, all incorporating the artist’s handmade torchworked glass. Torchworking, also known as flameworking or lampworking, is a method of glass work where the glass is melted then shaped and decorated directly in a torch flame. She has been melting glass and making beads since the year 2000 and finds it a challenging art medium. Many of the pieces will also feature chains and other components made by the artist using traditional metalsmithing techniques. There is something very special going on there as well.
“Garden Of Pansies”
Photo by Pam Beeson
The Gallery and Shop are located at 103 W. Madison, Pontiac, Illinois. The Center's hours are Monday - Friday, 10am-5pm, Saturday, 10am-4pm and Sunday, 9:30am-4pm. The public is welcome. Check out the website here and the Facebook page here.
Until we meet again. Please be good to each other.
Don’t forget to check out, the "Secret Weapon,” “Boris'” radio show on Woody Radio where “Boris” plays some great tunes, some of which you’ve probably never heard. Listen to it right here: "Secret Weapon" on Woody Radio.
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