The Ramones’ self-titled debut album was released in April 1976. Not one single on the 14-song tracklist lasted longer than three minutes. Ramones was met with rave reviews, despite being a commercial bummer. “For me, it blows everything else off the radio: it’s clean the way the Dolls never were, sprightly the way the Velvets never were, and just plain listenable the way Black Sabbath never was,” wrote Robert Christgau in the Village Voice. The band’s blitzkrieg tempo defined the punk rock sound.
The Queens Museum and Grammy Museum have partnered for a two-part exhibition for the album’s 40th anniversary, curated by Gallery 98’s Marc H. Miller. Hey! Ho! Let’s Go: Ramones and the Birth of Punk runs April 10 through July 31 at the Queens Museum before moving to the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles from September 16 through August 7.
The show features rare vintage objects and artwork from more than 50 public and private collections across the world that reveal the trajectory of the shaggy-haired band from Queens, their place in the larger downtown NY scene, and their influence on fashion, film, music, and more. A cartoon-filled map specially commissioned by Punk Magazine co-founder John Holmstrom will lead viewers through the band’s time at famous haunts like CBGB, where they made their debut on August 16, 1974. “They were all wearing these black leather jackets. And they counted off this song. And they started playing different songs, and it was just this wall of noise . . . They looked so striking. These guys were not hippies. This was something completely new,” said Punk co-founder Legs McNeil.
See a preview of the exhibition in our gallery, including street artist Shepard Fairey’s recent portraits of the band, photos of painter and Ramones art director Arturo Vega, and photos by former manager Danny Fields, who discovered the group at CBGB during a 1975 show.