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Credit: Masao Nakagami

Music

Johnny Ramone once went to see The Beatles just to throw rocks at them

@josephtaysom

Before Johnny Ramone took on his famous pseudonym, he was just another New York kid in attendance as The Beatles made history with their chaotic concert at Shea Stadium. Amid a sea of hysterical teens as the biggest band in the world took over the world, the punk showed appreciation in his own unique way — by throwing rocks at The Fab Four.

Despite his strange way of showing affection towards the Liverpudlians, Ramone was a huge Beatles fan, but he was also a 16-year-old with a penchant for causing trouble. The Shea Stadium concert was like nothing that came before and, unfortunately, was marred by technological problems because it was the first of its kind.

Surprisingly, Ramone’s actions weren’t a reaction to the nightmare on stage. Interestingly, it was a pre-meditated move, and he went into the concert with his pockets overflowing with enough rocks to cause severe damage to The Beatles. Thankfully, nobody in the band was hurt, which is a relief as, according to his friend Richard Adler, they were “as big as baseballs”.

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He remembered: “In 1966, we met John Cummings, now called Johnny Ramone. John was a bass player with very different musical tastes. He was a Rolling Stones fanatic. He also liked The Who, The Yardbirds and Iggy and The Stooges. Once we all went to see The Beatles at Shea Stadium and John brought a bag of rocks (stones) and threw them at The Beatles all night. It’s amazing nobody got hurt. These were rocks as big as baseballs.”

This story came to light on the website Ramones Heaven in 1997 by Adler, who remembered his experience of being friends with the group before they became famous, and it’s an enlightening look at the type of person Johnny was during his teens. Although the guitarist tried to hurl missiles at them during the most important concert of their career, The Beatles were a significant influence on The Ramones. They set a benchmark which the New Yorkers hungrily tried to eclipse, even if it wasn’t on the musical front.

According to Johnny’s widow, Linda, The Ramones “wanted to be the biggest band in the world. They wanted to be as big as the Beatles.” Although the punk pioneers tried to conceal their ambitious streak, it was there, and that concert at the Shea Stadium provided Johnny with the blueprint for his band’s concerts. He once quipped: “I figured that if The Beatles played a half-hour at Shea Stadium, The Ramones should only play 15 minutes. So in the beginning, we kept the set at about fifteen minutes. You get in your best material and leave them wanting more.”

Unfortunately, The Ramones never had the honour of performing their 15-minute set at Shea Stadium. However, you can watch a clip from The Beatles’ legendary concert below.