Once on some long lost TV show I had massive argument with the late Tony Wilson over who was the most influential band, the Ramones or the Sex Pistols.
The argument raged through the adverts and back into the second half of the programme.
We never did resolve the debate. So I would like you the reader to decide….
Sex Pistols or the Ramones- who was the most influential punk band?
Without the Pistols there would have been nothing. They were not only musically totally original but they possessed a front man who reinvented the whole notion of what a singer did. Before Rotten the singer was asking for your love now the singer didn’t give a fuck.
The Pistols were a revolution, they changed the way people dressed, thought, walked and played music. They killed flared trousers and introduced anarchy to pop culture. They made people hack off their hippie hair, Rotten was a one man generation gap whose look and attitude was something totally original. They made ugly beautiful and they created a whole lexicon of rock n roll. God Save The Queen had questions asked about it Parliament and the band invented a whole new type of controversy.
With the Pistols it was a cultural shift more than a musical one, the whole package was the key- it was Lydon’s attitude, their look, the situationist agenda of the Maclaren and jamie Read, the Sex Shop clothes, the whiff of revolution and the band’s initial danger that made them so vital. They created a whole new generation that took as much from their attitude and style as their music.
They ask made some of the greets and most timeless rock n roll ever.
The Ramones just wanted to be a pop band, obsessed with the bay City Rollers and Spector girl pop with a dose of the Dolls and Stooges they invented something else- a music that was so brutal and primitive that on first hearing it was a culture shock. People often ask who was the first punk band and there are plenty of examples- the Stooges could have a good call but the Ramones created the template that is still copied by every garage band in the world to this day.
The stripped down barre chords, the simple driving bass and goofy vocals- it’s so much part of punk’s DNA that no-one even notices any more. the 1234 count ins, the drainpipe jeans, the Lewis leathers, the sick sense of humour, the smart playing dumb attitude, the fast guitar assault, the leaping around on the stage, the energy and the chainsaw taking to pop culture approach were all invented by the Ramones. Their first album came out in 1976, they were way ahead of the game and their gig at the London Roundhouse in 1976 wa s agape changer with every punk band in London turing up and speeding up their music. before the Ramones there was nothing like the Ramones, after them there was punk rock and style that is copied even more today than it was 35 years ago.
They may not have had the cultural cache of the Sex Pistols but they changed everything, without even meaning to.
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