1-2-3-4! The Ramones took the 60’s bubblegum pop of their childhoods and gave it teeth with distortion and lyrics about lobotomies, sniffing glue, and male prostituion. Johnny and Dee Dee played their guitars using all downstrokes at lightning speeds. “Never bore us. Get to the chorus!”
Playing drums in the Ramones wasn’t as easy as everyone thinks.These guys had chops to spare, but chose not to use them. Both Rickie and Marky played in prog bands before the Ramones, notably Marky’s band Dust. In this video, Marky shows off his ability to play fancy Bonham triplets before blasting into an upbeat punk beat. “It’s all about stamina. You try playing this all night long.”
Sure, the differences between the Ramones drummers may seem subtle at first, but when knowing what to listen for, it adds a whole new depth to the listening experience.
Tommy Ramone (‘74 to ‘78)
Albums: Ramones, Leave Home, Rocket to Russia
Standout Tracks: “Lobotomy,” “Beat on the Brat,” “Pinhead.” He also wrote “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” and co-wrote “Blitzkrieg Bop.”
Signature Style: Tommy was the originator, the guy who set the template of no frills, no fills drumming that defined the sound of punk rock. Tommy had the lightest touch of the Ramones drummers, barely hitting the skins.
Why He Quit: He suffered a mental breakdown on tour, probably from dealing with all the other Ramones.
After the Ramones: Despite sustaining hearing damage on the road, Tommy went on to produce future Ramone’s records and the classic Replacement’s Album Tim.
Fun Fact: Tommy was born in Hungary to photographer parents who were both holocaust survivors.
Marky Ramone (‘78-83)
Albums: Road to Ruin, Rock ‘n’ Roll High School, End of the Century, Pleasant Dreams, Subterranean Jungle, Brain Drain.
Standout Tracks: “Pet Sematary” “Chinese Rock” “I Wanna Be Sedated”
Signature Style: The blitzkrieg of drummers, Marky had the longest tenure and is widely considered to be the quintessential Ramones drummer. He was the first to speed up the songs live and drove the band like a human jackhammer.
Why He Quit: Kicked out because of booze.
Fun Facts: He used to sell his signature pasta sauce at shows. Just what every mosh pit
needs: breakable glass containers. He also played with Richard Hell and the Vovoids on the seminal Blank Generation album.
Ritchie Ramone (‘83-’87)
Albums: Too Tough to Die, Animal Boy, Halfway to Sanity
Standout Tracks: ”Animal Boy” “Warthog” He wrote “Somebody Put Something in My Drink.”
Signature Style. He was more of a garage rock drummer, bashing his ride cymbals rather than the closed high-hat like the other guys. Richie took the band’s live set from Marky’s ridiculous speed to ludicrous speed. He also was the only drummer who could sing.
Why He Quit: Pissed off that the other guys wouldn’t cut him into the lucrative t-shirt sales, Ritchie hopped into a rented limo after a show and fucked them over for the rest of their tour. Quite possibly the most boss way to quit a band.
After the Ramones: Ritchie still tours playing Ramones songs with his own band. When it’s him singing and playing guitar, they sound like a decent Ramones cover band. When he sings behind the kit, they sound just like the Ramones.
Fun Fact: Lanky Ritchie failed an audition for making Billy Idol and Steve Stevens look short.
Elvis Ramones (‘87’)
Signature Style: His flashy style was considered too jazzy for the Ramones.
Notes:Legendary Blondie drummer Clem Burke (Elvis) filled in after Ritchie left the boys high and dry. You can tell if it’s him from the above link, because this is basically all that exists.
Why He Quit: Elvis was just a temp doing the Ramones a solid, since Ritchie just ditched them in the middle of a tour. Staying true to the album’s versions like most professional drummers would, Elvis played the songs too slow for the other Ramones who got used to the blazing speeds. He didn’t last long.
After the Ramones: He played with Pete Townsend, a guy used to playing with amazing drummers. He’s also playing the upcoming Blondie reunion tour.
Fun Fact. Clem participated in a cardio science experiment while drumming in three-piece-suit. I don’t know much about class, but I recognise it when I see it.
Yanni Ramone. (’96-Present)
Lighten up, people. Life’s short.
Marky Ramone Returns (‘87’s-’96)
Albums: Loco Live, Mondo Bizarro, Acid Eaters, Adios Amigos!
Standout Tracks: “Spiderman” “I Don’t Want to Grow Up”
Notes: A true punk rock masochist, Marky Ramone put down the bottle and rejoined the band until the bitter, bitter end. He played on Loco Live, which was voted Next In Line Magazine’s top live album of all time, just beating out Cheap Trick’s Live at Budokan in a double-blind study.
Fun Fact: Possibly the funniest Ramone’s drummer, his wit was showcased on the classic Howard Stern Ramones fights. (A must for any tour van, along with the Buddy Rich Tapes.) The highlight was Marky counting into a two-way apology with Joey as if they were starting a song.
After the Ramones: Marky played on Joey Ramones solo albums, and now fronts Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg. He toured with New Jersey’s finest, The Misfits. Also, he invented the Cell Phone Swatter, a device that prevents annoying audience members from shooting concerts on their phones.