There’s a theory that the musical tastes we develop during our formative years, say the mid to late teens, stick with us as we get older. This certainly explains my soft spot for punk, which always comes as a shock to those I’ve met later in life. As a teen, the Ramones were one of my musical first loves. I first heard the band when they were interviewed by Rodney Bingenheimer—the longtime DJ and musical tastemaker—on his Sunday night KROQ show. The band was promoting the goofy Rock ‘n’ Roll High School, in which they wrote the title song and were featured in the movie. Something about their distorted power chords, visceral, driving rhythms and knucklehead lyrics had me running out to buy their LPs Rocket to Russia and Road to Ruin the next day.
To the dismay of my parents, I played those records endlessly and as loud as I could get away with. Soon after I experienced the Ramones live, followed by seeing so many other punk and punk-adjacent bands, like X, the Dead Kennedys, The Clash, that it’s a wonder why I don’t have permanent hearing loss.
So I was excited to take a trip down punk memory lane at the Ramones and the Birth of Punk exhibit at the Grammy Museum at L.A. Live. On display until February, it has lots of quirky memorabilia like Joey Ramone’s report card, their signature leather motorcycle jackets, and quickly dashed off visa applications full of personal info. It’s a fun exhibit and homage to the four punkers from Queens.
While the music I listen to now is nowhere near as raucous and raw as punk, if it has robust and jangly guitar chords, or is rhythmically charged, it will likely be part of my playlist. Gabba gabba hey!