The Ramones’ last concert on August 6th in 1996 was of epic proportions. The concert took place at the Hollywood Palace and came after a gruelling long career of true rock ‘n’ roll debauchery and tragedy. As if knowing that all the members except Marky Ramone would be dead soon, the band came together for the last time. The Ramones was everything the Ramones had. Now that is true rock ‘n’ roll.
There are a lot of discussions surrounding which band exactly started punk rock. Some say it’s The Clash, some say it’s the Sex Pistols, while other’s say it is The Ramones. While that debate will probably go on until the end of time, one thing is very clear regarding The Ramones – they define a movement.
Some called them the punk version of The Beatles. Together, they were very different from the others, in that their songs were never overtly political. Then again, one would have to define what exactly ‘political’ is as it relates to music. Talking about everyday life in the streets, real-life relationships, heartbreak – these are all political in their way, they are making a statement about their life – this isn’t fiction.
They believe it because it is exactly who they are, there are no surprises when it comes to The Ramones, you get exactly what you hear and see, there is zero pretension about them. One could say that this is what punk is about, walking the talk.
Whether they considered themselves political or not, the Ramones still couldn’t get away from politics. “I got very mixed feelings about the whole thing, because, on one hand, there’s nothing better than the Ramones,” Joey Ramone started saying before adding, “But on the other hand, there’s a lot of resistance, a lot of crap, a lot of frustration and a lot of politics.”
“If this is the last show the Ramones do, then it’s an insult to the intelligence of the world and a shame for rock and roll,” Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister said at the night of their last show, according to Ultimate Classic Rock.
“They are one of the best bands you’ve ever seen. Neglect them at your peril. They will teach you everything about rock and roll. Everything about rock and roll was in those songs, and if they’re gone, then it’s a damn shame,” Kilmister added.
Lemmy Kilmister loved The Ramones and it especially shows as he performs Motorhead’s tribute to the band, ‘R.A.M.O.N.E.S’, with the punk band on this night. Other guests that showed up to play were Lars Frederiksen and Tim Armstrong from Rancid who performed ’53rd and 3rd’. Even Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell and Ben Shepherd performed ‘Chinese Rocks’.
To say the least, it was a show to remember. “I said nothing to the other guys, I just walked out – it was the way I lived my life,” guitarist Johnny Ramone said in an interview with the Rolling Stone. “Of course, I was really feeling loss of some sort. I just didn’t want to admit it.”
Eventually, Johnny, Joey, and Tommy Ramone all died of cancer, while DeeDee Ramone died of a heroin overdose. The only surviving member is Marky Ramone who joined the band later but played for 15 years with them.
They gave it their last hurrah. Watch their last show, below.