End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones review – heroes of punk

I can’t remember a rockumentary that I sat through beaming with as much sheer pleasure as this celluloid love letter to the Ramones

I can't remember a rockumentary, or if you will documentary, that I sat through beaming with as much sheer pleasure as this celluloid love letter to the Ramones, heroes of punk. After their New York debut in 1976, and a barnstorming gig at London's Roundhouse shortly afterwards - where they were astonished at levels of adulation they certainly weren't getting back in the US - the Ramones rocketed into rock legend, with their leather jackets and mop hair, crashing through 100mph songs and doing more than anyone to take a sledgehammer to prog-rock complacency.

For 20 years, the Ramones did their thing, never changing, never looking or sounding any different, and sadly never making it into the big league, despite being an acknowledged influence on so many bands that came later. The pseudo-surname "Ramone" seems to have encouraged a family-type dysfunction; Johnny stole Joey's girlfriend, an act that sowed the seed of much pain, and Johnny's martinet insistence on hard work and touring, together with his robustly conservative political views, wound everyone up no end.

The Ramones ended their career hardly speaking to each other, a bitterness that carried on after the death of both Joey and Dee Dee - the latter of a suspected drug overdose, the former of lymphatic cancer. (Clive James used to say that Bill Haley was notable for being the first rock star to die a natural death. Was Joey the first punk legend to do likewise?) Since this movie premiered at the Berlin film festival last year, Johnny has also died, of prostate cancer. This is a fascinating and melancholy documentary.


Peter Bradshaw

The GuardianTramp

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