If you don't count Brisbane's Saints, in the early ’70s two bands pioneered punk. On one side of the globe, the Sex Pistols were sneering, spitting and rocking out, on the other it was the Ramones. Query whether we’d have had the Pistols without the Ramones and the answer is probably not.
The Ramones' original four members (Joey, Dee Dee, Johnny and Tommy Ramone – note: not their real names) have sadly left this mortal coil. However, some of the newer members are still running riot. Enter Richie Ramone (real name Richard Reinhardt), who’s heading to our shores for Australia’s only dedicated dirty rock’n’roll street festival, Cherry Rock, which turns ten this year.
Richie was one of the Ramones' replacement drummers after Tommy, the band’s original drummer, left the fold. Unlike any of the Ramone’s other drummers, Richie wrote tunes, including the band’s classic, ‘Somebody Put Something in My Drink’.
Richie remained on sticks until ’87, when he left the band over Johnny’s alleged failure to cut him in on band merch. Does he ever regret it? “You could think, ‘why did it have to end, what if I’d stayed and wrote another song like ‘Drink’, but you can’t dwell on it,” he says. “Was it the best decision? Could have been, could have maybe not been, but you’ve gotta move forward. I was a kid. I felt like I made a stand for what I felt I deserved and that was it.”
While Richie could have toured the world riding the Ramone’s coattails (and audiences would still be delighted) he’s not been idle. He’s got his second (unreleased) solo album under the belt, including the single ‘Enjoy the Silence’, which puts menace back into Depeche Mode’s New Wave classic. While this may seem like an odd choice of tune for one the ‘Hey Ho, Let’s Go’ clan, it’s bringing him full circle – Richie’s first band, Velveteen, was New Wave, just before it became a thing. “That song always had a great sound and it suits me, but if you’re gonna do a cover, you have to do it right, you know,” he says. Indeed, he’s nailed it.