> Volume 6 > Number 31


Jim Fields
Michael Gramaglia

Johnny Ramone
Dee Dee Ramone
Joey Ramone
Tommy Ramone
Marky Ramone
Joe Strummer

Release: 20 Aug. 04

End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones


If there anything that has become clear in this age of the Behind the Music era, it’s that bands are like families, bonded through their backgrounds but constantly at odds. This comparison has no better exemplary subject than The Ramones, a collective of lower-class Queens hoodlums who turned their often dissonant sounds to create the foundation for a thriving punk sound in England and America. Not is there a rise and fall of the Ramone empire to document, but these are, after all, musicians to changed their last names to create an illusion of kinship.

Like Metallica: Some Kind of Monster earlier this summer, End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones is mostly about how opposing members of a band can put their problems behind to create a distinct and iconic sound (long after their laughable addition to the Pet Cemetery soundtrack, their music has become integral to many of today’s films), most of which netted only minor interest in America. But unlike Metallica, where the discord only seems to strengthen the bond at the moment it seems closest to breaking, the Ramones couldn’t live through their own disagreements, from the heroin use of Dee Dee Ramone to the stealing of Joey’s girlfriend by Johnny. Drummers came and went, and by the time Dee Dee had left to pursue a rap career even the attempts of piecing together another Ramones album became impossible, not just for the musicians, but also for the fans who faithfully bought their mediocre later works.

There is a rich history in the Ramones saga, and, even if directors Jim Fields and Michael Gramaglia do not do anything new with the medium, the richness of their subject remains commanding throughout. Certainly, there have been better rock docs made -- The Filth and the Fury on The Sex Pistols, Some Kind of Monster on Metallica -- but what End of the Century makes clear is that the sounds of those already documented heathens, from Johnny Rotten to Lars Ulrich came from a group of Queens nobodies who, for two already, will die with greater adulation than riches

©2004, David Perry,, 30 July 2004