Joe Strummer reveals how the Ramones first U.K. gig helped create the British punk scene, and without the Ramones, punk may not have taken off in the U.K.
It was 44 years ago this year that the Ramones flew to London for the first time and played their historic 1976 July 4th concert at the Roundhouse in Camden – a gig that many cite as ‘ground zero’ for the U.K. punk movement.
Only a month earlier, a little-known London band called the Sex Pistols had played a gig at Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester with a local band called the Buzzcocks. It has been said that there were only a few dozen people in attendance, but little did anyone who was there knows that very shortly, the smouldering UK punk scene was about to be fanned into a blazing firestorm by a band from New York.
Many members of soon-to-be-famous UK punk bands were at the Ramones’ Roundhouse gig and seemingly no sooner had the Ramones’ final chord rung out, and the band had left the stage leaving the hot and sweaty and excited audience screaming for more; the UK punk scene was in full swing.
The importance of that Ramones gig and its impact, both personally and on the British punk scene, was outlined by The Clash‘s Joe Strummer in the documentary ‘End of The Century: The Story of the Ramones’.
“If that Ramones records hadn’t existed, I don’t know that we could have built a scene here because it filled a vital gap between the death of the old pub rocking scene and the advent of punk,” Joe said.
The Clash and the Sex Pistols were at the infamous Roundhouse gig, and the impact it had on Joe was huge.
“We knew how to get to the backstage window,” Joe continued. “So I was there, Simo, Jonsey, some of the Sex Pistols, and we were in the back ally, and we threw a rock at the window. I think Johnny Ramone stuck his head out of the window and said, ‘Whaaat?’ and we went, ‘Hey, this is The Clash, and this is The Pistols, and we need to get in.’ So they kinda formed this human chain and hauled us through this window. And this was the first time we met them, and it was just a really great punk rock moment,” Joe remembered fondly.
“We were in the back ally, and we threw a rock at the window. Johnny Ramone stuck his head out of the window and said, ‘Whaaat?’ and we went, ‘Hey, this is The Clash, and this is The Pistols, and we need to get in.’ So they kinda formed this human chain and hauled us through this window. And this was the first time we met them, and it was just a really great punk rock moment.” Joe Strummer.Tweet
“On paper, it doesn’t seem likely that you would get a guy like Joey Ramone – a tall gorky looking guy and someone like Dee Dee – who was hustling up the street and then Johnny Ramone with his ruthless eye for how it had to be done, but together they made this incredible thing that influenced everybody here – no doubt about it.”
By the end of 1976, many fans of the Ramones and the Sex Pistols had formed their own bands, including Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Adverts, Generation X, The Slits, X-Ray Spex and The Damned – the first UK punk band to release a single – the classic New Rose.
“I think the Ramones gave the youth of the world a lot of self-respect – they learned a lot from the Ramones,” Joe concluded.
The Ramones had helped ignite the fire that changed music forever – the rest, as they say – is history!
Buy End of The Century: The Story of the Ramones
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I’m a London born and bred music journalist, a mediocre bass player and the occasional strummer of the guitar. In the ’80s I worked in recording studios and made a few records you’d probably recognise. I have written a couple of books and made the odd media appearance as a music commentator. I now call Brisbane home.