The story of the Ramones began in their childhood neighbourhood of Forest Hills, Queens. The band members shared childhoods filled with alienation, salvaged only by their common love of underground music like Iggy and the Stooges and the New York Dolls. As high school students, amidst teenage delinquency, glue sniffing and a shared dark sense of humour, all set to a soundtrack of teen angst and frustration, the Ramones were headed nowhere. With seemingly no other options, and against a popular music terrain that was completely polar to their sensibilities, they formed a band and learned to make music by simply picking up instruments and just playing. And after a few false starts, they unveiled their newly invented sound at the legendary CBGB's on the Lower East Side.

With their stripped-down sound, clean aesthetic and fast attack, the band quickly became the darlings of the New York underground music scene. Before long, their reputation gained them fans among the ranks of New York?s biggest scene-makers: Andy Warhol, Malcolm Mclaren and Danny Fields all attended Ramones concerts. Danny was so impressed by their performance that he offered to be their manager on the spot. The band accepted under the condition that he provide them with the necessary funds (three thousand dollars) for a new drum set. Danny then brought them to the attention of Sire Records head Seymour Stein who signed them immediately. Although their first album, The Ramones, sold poorly in the U.S., it is now commonly acknowledged as a landmark album and became an underground favorite in London.

On July 4, 1976, the Ramones played the Roundhouse London supporting the Flaming Groovies and inspired the nascent English punk rock scene. Members of the Clash, the Sex Pistols, the Damned, and Chrissy Hynde?all of whom had yet to make their musical debuts?appeared at their first gig. The Ramones blitzed London yet returned to the States to find manager Danny Fields begging to get them a gig in New Jersey. Wherever they played across the U.S., they drew only a small crowd of misfits bored with the music and culture of the time. Yet in their wake, the Ramones left behind numerous local bands who were inspired by their, ?do it yourself? musical philosophy.

Back in New York City, the band had a record deal but no money. They all lived with Arturo Vega, their lifelong art director, in his East Village loft. As their popularity grew through grassroots networks, they became major rock stars, if only in the eyes of rock journalists. At about this time, the bands from England that the boys had in a sense began, exploded. The politically charged lyrics and the highly stylized images of the Clash and the Sex Pistols drew the attention of the world press and the Ramones seemed relegated to the background, to the point where the Sex Pistols were commonly referred to in the secular press as the creators of punk rock and its origin traced to London, rather than the Bowery. The Ramones countered the punk invasion with two of their best albums, Rocket to Russia (1977) and Road to Ruin (1978), although neither album broke through commercially in the U.S.

The stress of touring and the pressure to sell records put a great deal of strain on the group?s interpersonal relationships. Tommy?drummer, producer and one of the founders?left the band. In a desperate attempt to release a hit record, the group enlisted the services of legendary producer Phil Spector, Spector was rumored to be mad. It is also rumored that he madee them play the opening note of Rock and Roll high school for 8 hours. Joey, who had pushed the band to experiment a little and make a different kind of album, was the impetus behind the union. On paper, the pairing of the two made sense, as the Ramones drew much of their inspiration from the kind of pop songs Spector was known for producing. But the reality of the working relationship was very different. Almost immediately, Dee Dee and Phil, both eccentrics in their own right, clashed, with the veteran producer once forcing Dee Dee to play bass at gunpoint.

The Ramones, who were used to recording an album in one week at the very most, compared the experience of working with Phil Spector to Chinese water torture. The strain of the sessions caused the engineer to suffer a heart attack, while the finished result, End of the Century (1980), was to no one?s liking. The band was never the same after that session, with the relationship between Johnny and Joey, although strained at the outset of the Spector session, completely ruptured by the end of recording the album. Following disappointing record sales for End Of The Century, the band resigned itself to the fact that they would probably never be a chart-topping recording act.

Johnny viewed being a rock star as a means of employment, recording an album every couple of years and touring constantly. After Tommy?s departure, Johnny and Joey butted heads over the direction of the band. Johnny wanted to make the same music in the familiar Ramones mode, while Joey fought for creative change. A full-blown power struggle ensued and the aggression intensified when Joey?s long-term girlfriend left him for Johnny. Joey was heartbroken and the relationship between the two band mates was fractured for good. Though they continued to tour in a small van together for years, they never spoke to each other again.

As the 1980s moved forward, the touring continued to be the only source of income. Marky Ramone (who replaced Tommy) succumbed to alcoholism and was kicked out of the band, only to return to the group a number of drummers later. Dee Dee decided to experiment with rap music and released an album, much to Johnny?s embarrassment. Shortly thereafter, Dee Dee, overcome with exhaustion and bloated by antidepressants, left the band, his wife and his psychiatrist. In the face of all this, Johnny refused to give up. He found CJ, a younger, cheaper version of Dee Dee, and continued the never-ending tour for another eight years.

With Dee Dee?s replacement, CJ Ramone, the band entered a new decade with a renewed influence on the bands that would become the grunge movement. CJ, who was a lifelong fan of the band, found that the ?united? front he?d admired was anything but. Their relationships were splintering even further, but the band found acceptance in some inexplicable Beatle-like way in South America where screaming fans filled 30,000-seat arenas shouting ?Hey, Ho, Let?s Go!? Much of this late career success was mitigated by the deteriorated relationships and constant feuding. The premature deaths of Joey and Dee Dee a year apart and then Johnny in 2004 were sad punctuations to the legacy. In the end, the music industry recognized the huge influence the band has had over two generations of rock music. As Legs McNeil says in the film, ?The Ramones saved rock and roll.?