It was a Friday night in the summer of 1974. New York was pretty much a hellhole, steaming towards bankruptcy and rife with crime, racial tensions and garbage. It was ugly.
And it wasn’t very pretty at a shitty bar below a flophouse hotel at 315 Bowery called CBGB. But that night, something special happened, although less than a dozen people (plus the owner’s dog) were there to witness it. A new group called The Ramones played their second-ever gig–and their first of dozens and dozens at CBGB.
The Ramones made their debut on March 30 at a place called the Mercer Street Art Centre–part of building that would literally collapse into the ground–but as a trio. There was Dee Dee on bass, Johnny on guitar and Joey on drums. But by the end of the night, everyone came to the same conclusion: it would be best if Joey were to come out front and sing. Tommy, the band’s erstwhile manager, would handle drums.
And so on August 16, 1974, after months of rehearsals, the Ramones played their first show as a four-piece in what would become their classic lineup. And it was a disaster.
The band argued about which song they should play next. There were false starts and re-starts. Strings were broken. But they managed to blow through ten songs in about 20 minutes. Witnesses weren’t sure if they were serious or if this was a big joke. All anyone could tell was that the brudders were playing 60s-style pop songs as the speed and volume of a jet fighter.
The Ramones played CBGB two dozen times before the end of the year. They got better–fewer onstage fights and broken strings–and a buzz began. And eventually, the Ramones lit the fuse that we’d eventually call “punk.”
Read more at Classic Rock.
Here’s a list of every single Ramones gig from March 30, 1974 to August 6, 1996.