The Ramones give The Simpsons its first punk gig back in 1993
In 1993, there was a very big wave on the horizon and it was yellow and bratty: it was The Simpsons. One fateful episode of the newly-heavy-hitting animated show saw the introduction of a quartet of punk legends to Springfield — the original brats, The Ramones.
We take a look back at their very special moment in yellow and see the band dominate the stage even if it was an animated one.
The early nineties had seen the rise of The Simpsons grow beyond all measure. Far from their short space on the Tracey Ullman show, Matt Groening’s series had become a behemoth of television. The show was a massive hit across the globe, merch sales were of the same level as Disney and the plethora of guest stars looking to be immortalised by the animators grew every day.
While bands like Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Aerosmith had made their debut on the show by ’93, there was still no punk to be seen. Paradoxically, while The Simpsons stock had been steadily growing since the late-eighties, The Ramones were at an all-time low for the band.
From their swashbuckling and snotty entrance in the mid-seventies, the fervour around the Ramones had slowly begun to wane as the group tried to find success in two new decades. Bands like Pearl Jam and Sonic Youth had proclaimed the Ramones as one of their biggest influences, they had also surpassed the punk legends. Grunge had hit it big in the charts and the money was flooding in, while the Ramones were still touring the toilet circuit in a shitty van. That’s when Groening and his set of adoring writers came to the punk quartet with a plan for them to be a part of some special celebrations.
Those celebrations were the ones held in their new episode ‘Rosebud’ which would see Springfield’s billionaire villain Mr Burns search for his long-lost teddy bear as his ultimate birthday wish. The Ramones were scheduled to play the animated event.
“Here are several young men that I’m sure are gonna go far,” says Burns’ faithful servant Smithers, introducing the band. “Ladies and gentlemen, the Ramones!” The band set up and seems to offer a slice of reprieve for Burns.“Ah, these minstrels will soothe my jangled nerves.” His happiness doesn’t last long and the yearning for his bear continues throughout the episode.
The real joy of the appearance comes from the band’s small but frighteningly accurate lines. “I just wanna say this gig sucks,” says Joey Ramone with a snarl, who along with his bandmates Johnny, Marky and C.J. all voiced their own parts in the episode. “Hey,” says Johnny before kicking into an aggressive “Happy Birthday.”
“Up yours Springfield!” Even C.J. gets a line: “Go to hell, you old bastard!”
Montgomery Burns is unmoved by the band’s attitude and, as Burns often did, delivered a classic line “Have the Rolling Stones killed!” While Smithers tries to rectify the billionaire’s mistake he is resolutely knocked back and robots begin attacking attendees. Classic Simpsons fun.
It’s a brilliant appearance for any band to have, such is the weight of the pop culture crown which sits atop The Simpsons’ head, but it’s the power of their introduction to a whole new generation which has us smiling.
More than many will like to admit this simple, snotty and snarling performance on a cartoon show likely introduced The Ramones to more people (after the seventies) than any other single event. Although the band would split up only 3 years later, it would likely be this performance that sowed the seeds for their (untimely) resurgence in the early 00’s.
For that reason alone, enjoy the clip of The Ramones making their debut on The Simpsons from 1993 below.