by Shawn Patterson
Exploding out of CBGB's in New York City and into the mainstream during the mid '70's, no other band excelled at capturing the essence of the American punk ethic as successfully as The Ramones. Their aggressive, no BS approach provided the blueprint for generations of young punkers. The Offspring, Blink-182, and Green Day are some of the most successful acts to proudly wear the Ramones influence on their sleeves.
While the infant American punk movement was less politically motivated than it's British counterpart, they did share a passionate anti-establishment message. In the Ramones' case, the foursome from Queens hit on a winning formula by combining the pop premise of short, catchy songs (most Ramones tunes clocked in right around three minutes) with the attitude of The Stooges and MC5-not to mention a Lords Of Flatbush wardrobe. John Cummings, a.k.a. Johnny Ramone, laid down the law with a Mozrite guitar and a tireless right hand that pounded out steady eighth-note power chord rhythms at breakneck tempos in songs like "Rockaway Beach," "Blitzkrieg Bop," and "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker." He once commented in an interview that playing guitar for him was not fun, but "painful." An attempt to play just a few Ramones songs back-to-back (keeping in mind that their live set was packed with over two dozen) will give you an idea of what he was talking about.
The band stayed together in one form or another well into the '90's with Johnny and vocalist Joey Ramone being the only original members. With the passing of Joey in 2001 of cancer, fans' hopes for a reunion were laid to rest with him.
In this "..Sedated"-era Chord of the Week example, check out the picking hand accents that give the rhythm extra life. Also pay attention to the subtle "slides" into the chords, and the incorporation of "full" chords (as opposed to just a root-5th power chord) that help open up the sound dynamically.