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Johnny Ramone was a founding member of the Ramones, one of the most influential bands of all time. Hailing from Queens, NY, Johnny invented the relentless down-stroke guitar style that defined not only the groundbreaking sound of the legendary Ramones, but the guitar voice of the punk rock movement in general. One of the most influential guitarists in rock history, his impact resonates to this day, and he was listed in Time magazine’s “10 greatest electric guitar players” and named #16 in Rolling Stone’s top 100 guitarists of all time.
Johnny kept the Ramones focused and moving forward, ultimately securing their place in rock history. The band formed in NYC in 1974 and quickly distinguished themselves from the bland pop-rock of the time. The tight, fast and aggressive quartet were immediately established as a live concert tour de force, helping establish New York City — and C.B.G.B. in particular — as the center of a new breed of rock.
“Johnny Ramone was a living legend,” said his close friend Kirk Hammett, guitarist for Metallica. “A true enigma. One in a million. I reveled in his ironclad, piss-and-vinegar sort of temperament toward everything, and life, in general. Long live Johnny Ramone!!!” Chris Cornell of Soundgarden, another close friend, proclaimed that, “Johnny produced a sound so brutal and direct, it has influenced all rock since. He approached his music and his life with a legendary tenacity, making him one of rock’s most indestructible icons.”
Soon after their first C.B.G.B. gig, the Ramones — Johnny, Joey, Dee Dee and Tommy — were signed to Sire Records by its respected impresario Seymour Stein. Their self-titled debut album was released stores in 1976 and was an immediate hit. Featuring 14 songs (with the longest being two and a half minutes), the Ramones made their point quickly. The group hit the road and toured essentially non-stop for 22 years, performing a reported 2,263 shows.
The Ramones — with original members Johnny and Joey onboard from the very beginning — broke up in 1995 but their legacy certainly lives on. The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002 and nearly a decade later, the seminal band was awarded a Grammy® Lifetime Achievement Award. The band has been cited as a major influence by some of music’s most respected players, including (but certainly not limited to) Green Day, Black Flag, Ministry, Dead Kennedys, Bad Religion, Social Distortion, Bad Brains, Motorhead and Metallica.