Contact Us

40 Years Ago: The Ramones Play Their First Show

The Ramones
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

When the Ramones’ eponymous first album was released in April 1976, it was so fresh and immediate that it was almost hard to believe that they had already been kicking around New York for about two years. On March 30, 1974, they played their first show.

That “show,” if you can call it that, actually took place in the band’s rehearsal space on Manhattan’s East 20th Street — then known as Performance Studios — before just a handful of friends and associates, including future drummer Tommy Ramone (nee Erdelyi), who, at the time, was acting as the fledgling trio’s manager.

Yes, you heard correctly: “trio,” because Jeffrey Hyman (Joey Ramone) was still sitting in on drums, while bassist Douglas Colvin (Dee Dee Ramone) tried in vain to also handle lead vocals, and guitarist John Cummings (Johnny Ramone) sawed away at his first of many Mosrite guitars (previously played by a key influence, the MC5’s Fred “Sonic” Smith).

Under these retroactively curious, and clearly short-lived circumstances, the brand new ensemble was only capable of cranking out seven, minute-long song-blasts bearing conspicuous titles like ‘I Don’t Wanna Go Down to the Basement,’ ‘I Don’t Wanna Walk Around With You,’ ‘Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue,’ ‘I Don’t Wanna Be Learned / I Don’t Wanna Be Tamed,’ ‘I Don’t Wanna Get Involved With You,’ ‘I Don’t Like Nobody That Don’t Like Me,’ and, uh, ‘Succubus.’

Now, as longtime Ramones fans know all too well, virtually all of these early sketches would wind up making an appearance on the band’s eventual debut — no doubt in much improved form — but it was clear to all involved that the group was far from ready for prime time, at this point in time.

So they spent the next few months studiously honing their craft and unique vision, while auditioning new drummers so that Joey could step out front of stage — finally settling on Tommy himself when it became clear he could play those metronomically demanding, machine-gun-paced parts better than anyone else who stepped through the door.

Thus, the classic Ramones foursome at last felt prepared to play their second official show — and first public concert — on August 16, 1974, at a year-old downtown hole-in-the-wall called CBGB. The rest is history, but even history often starts under extremely modest circumstances, like those surrounding the Ramones’ very first show.

Next: The Ramones 'Brain Drain' Turns 25

More from WFGR

Best of the Web

Leave a Comment

It appears that you already have an account created within our VIP network of sites on . To keep your points and personal information safe, we need to verify that it's really you. To activate your account, please confirm your password. When you have confirmed your password, you will be able to log in through Facebook on both sites.

Forgot your password?

*Please note that your points, prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

It appears that you already have an account on this site associated with . To connect your existing account with your Facebook account, just click on the account activation button below. You will maintain your existing profile and VIP program points. After you do this, you will be able to always log in to http://wfgr.com using your Facebook account.

*Please note that your points, prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

Please fill out the information below to help us provide you a better experience.

Register on 98.7 WFGR Classic Hits quickly by logging in with your Facebook account. It's just as secure, and no password to remember!

Not a Member? Sign Up Here

Please solve this simple math problem to prove that you are a real person.

Register on 98.7 WFGR Classic Hits quickly by logging in with your Facebook account. It's just as secure, and no password to remember!