Gabba Gabba We Accept You – A Love Letter From Down Under To The Ramones! PART 2

Gabba Gabba We Accept You – A Love Letter From Down Under To The Ramones! PART 2


In Part One, here, we heard from members of Radio Birdman, Skyhooks, Ol’55, early Melbourne punks Babeez and others, and looked at early reactions to the Ramones on the Australian music scene in the ‘70s and discussed in our introduction the ongoing influence of the Ramones on Australian music over the years. This time we head west and north, and then back east as we move into the ‘80s.


Over in Perth, despite the city’s incredible isolation, similar things were happening to what was going on in Melbourne and Sydney in regards to the Ramones impact. A young guitarist named Kim Salmon formed a punk band called the Cheap Nasties, who would splinter into two bands, the Scientists, and the Manikins.

"My first contact with very idea of the Ramones was enough to make me want to ditch my record collection. It was round Xmas ’75. I’d read an NME article that conveyed that the Ramones: had no songs over 2 and a half minutes; no guitar solos; all wore sneakers, tee shirts, ripped jeans and leather Jackets; played everything at break neck speed; played very loud; sounded like bubblegum crossed with metal; all had the surname ‘Ramone’.

I ordered their album from 78 Records. It hadn’t even been recorded yet! I had to wait 6 months to get the call that my record was in. I bet no one in Australia heard that record before me.  Those 78’s dudes were certainly too hip to be bothered with this stuff (so I thought anyway).

Even after all that time of building the concept up in my mind, all that anticipation, the sound when the needle hit the groove and ‘Blitzkreig Bop’ thundered out of my speakers transformed me!

The Ramones transformed music. As much as anyone. The Beatles, The Stones, Elvis, Dylan. More importantly, they were the transformation for my generation."

 - Kim Salmon, The Scientists


At the same time as the Cheap Nasties had been forming, Dave Faulkner and James Baker were forming the Victims. James, who’d previously played in rehearsal room-only punks the Geeks, and before that a couple of Glam influenced outfits, had visited New York, LA and London, and had actually seen the Ramones play... He had the haircut just right.

James Baker in the Victims 

The Victims are these days an iconic band in the annals of Aussie punk, primarily on the strength of their incredible single “Television Addict”. Dave Faulkner’s guitar sound wasn’t the prevalent punk buzzsaw style. It was effects free, but Dave’s playing was so hard and tight that, when locked in with Baker’s thumping, the band sounded pneumatic. That gave them a clear point of difference from everyone else influenced by the Ramones, but that influence was clearly there:

"You can’t reinvent the wheel, can you? The Ramones did. Rock’n’roll was a clapped-out old jalopy, running on bare rims and going nowhere. Until the Ramones. They gave it a new set of sidewalls, supercharged the pistons with nitrous and took the beast out for a spin, setting a new land speed record in the process. If they hadn’t come along, the music would have sputtered and died. We owe them everything. You do too, whether you know it or not."

Dave Faulkner


The Victims – Live in Perth (INCREDIBLE!!!) 

After the Victims, James would team up with Kim Salmon in the Scientists before regrouping with Victims singer/guitarist Dave Faulkner in Sydney in the original Hoodoo Gurus.


When Gurus Dave and James were still in Perth, a couple of their future band mates were still in Qld.

Bass player Clyde Bramley was in Toowoomba band Streetlife.

"Visiting Sydney with a couple of bandmates from country QLD in 1976, we crashed at a large share house in Five Dock which had a huge stereo and The Ramones first album on high rotation. I thought "Wow! Tough bubblegum with comic punk lyrics! Cool!". Well maybe my thoughts weren't quite that coherent at the time, but there was no denying that it was exciting and compelling. On our return to Toowoomba, we immediately incorporated a couple of Ramones tunes into our set, much to the bemusement of local audiences! (Thank you, Greg Foster, for turning me on to The Ramones!)

The Ramones perfected a style of rock and roll that is as vital today as it was forty years ago. A style that is still an influence and a reference point for millions of musicians worldwide."

- Clyde Bramley


Clyde’s future bandmate Brad Shepherd was only in his mid-teens when the Ramones album first came out, but as punk hit, he and his even younger brother Murray would form the Aliens, playing Ramones covers alongside songs by the Stooges, the New York Dolls, and Brad’s fave Aussie band Radio Birdman. The Aliens changed their name to the Fun Things and released an EP that remains one of the most loved of all Australian punk records.

Following the Fun Things 1980 demise, Brad headed for the UK.

"Put it this way: in 1980 I went to live in England, hoping to be where the action was. I’d left it too late. I had no interest in the then prevailing ska culture; I saw The Clash at The Hammersmith Palais & Doll By Doll at The Herne Hill Hotel, that was it.

During a phone conversation with my brother back in Brisbane, he informed me that The Ramones were performing in the coming month at Festival Hall. I booked my ticket back to Australia the next day."

- Brad Shepherd

Upon his return to Australia, Brad moved to Sydney, moving into a share house with Clyde. Almost immediately he joined The Hitmen, the band led by former Radio Birdman guitarist Chris Masuak, with whom he would record two albums before defecting to the Hoodoo Gurus in late ’82. There was more than a bit of Ramones-style surf punk in the Hitmen, just as there had been in Radio Birdman

Hitmen drummer Mark Kingsmill would replace James Baker in the Hoodoo Gurus a couple of years later.

Check out this incredible Ramones medley from the Gurus, recorded at the height of their live powers in 1997 (by which time Clyde had quit and been replaced by Rick Grossman).


In the early ‘80s in Sydney, the Ramones influence remained ubiquitous. And it wasn’t just the Hoodoo Gurus and inner city Birdman disciples carrying the torch. From out in the far Western suburbs a young band called the Lonelyhearts were making a name for themselves on the pub circuit, finding favour with Chisel and Oils audiences with classic '60s covers and an energy that owed to a lot to our heroes...

"The Ramones would cover a song by stripping it down to its most basic elements, jettisoning any superfluous chords, drum rolls and guitar solos in the process.  Like their cover versions, their originals defined punk music but were still heavily influenced by pop.

In 1979, along with 60’s pop and new wave, the Ramones were a big influence on the Lonelyhearts, a young energetic band from the western suburbs of Sydney.   The Lonelyhearts covered several Ramones songs and also applied the same Ramones style to many of the early Lonelyhearts originals and other songs in their set list – simple, energetic pop. The Ramones influence and energy were obvious.

I remember hearing ‘Blitzkreig Bop’ for the first time and after that there was no turning back.

Seeing them at the Capitol Theatre in July 1980 they kicked off with Blitzkrieg Bop and even standing with the sound engineer they were loud, very loud. They were raw and they were pure energy – they were a phenomenon that influenced anyone who came in contact with them."

- Michael Rooney, The Lonelyhearts

Check out the Lonelyhearts on Buttercup Records.

Following the Lonelyhearts out of the Western suburbs in the early 80s was a band who would become one of the genuine benchmark Australian bands of the era as far as international fans of the Birdman/Stooges/Ramones–inspired ‘Australian Sound’ was concerned, the Lime Spiders.

"The Ramones’ full tilt style of no nonsense noise was a seminal influence on the Lime Spiders in our formative years. In those early eighties, we played a Ramones medley as part of our set, featuring "Do You Wanna Dance?" & "Oh Oh I Love Her So". Richard Jakimyszyn was a master of power chords! It went down really well at the Southern Cross Hotel.

This is a pic of the dearly departed Joey Ramone & myself backstage at The Cat Club in NYC. For the record, it was 29/10/87. It was a College Music showcase gig when the Lime Spiders’ debut album, "The Cave Comes Alive" had been No. 1 on the CMJ college charts for over a month. Faith No More had just finished their support spot when Joey & Iggy Pop walked into our tiny dressing room together...all very overwhelming! Iggy and Joey both genuinely dug our band. Joey had come straight to the gig from the airport after the Ramones had just completed a European tour. He was an imposing presence up close & personal, between his fame, height & pink glasses. Needless to say, it was an unbelievable honour & a memorable highlight of my rock & roll career."

  - Mick Blood, The Lime Spiders


Other bands on the Sydney scene in the ‘80s inspired by the Ramones included the Psychotic Turnbuckles and the Eastern Dark. From their first gig, the Eastern Dark played a different Ramones song to open their set each time they played. They only played each song once, and they moved through the Ramones repertoire in order, starting with track 1, side one – “Blitzkrieg Bop” – of the first album. They had numerous brilliant songs of their own though – and revealed a wide range of other influences – and left an incredible legacy despite their sudden demise brought about by shock death of main man James Darroch. We played one side – “Johnny & Dee Dee”  – of the Eastern Dark's classic single to kick off Part One of this feature; here’s the just as brilliant other side.


The Eastern Dark’s singer/guitarist/songwriter James Darroch had previously been in the Celibate Rifles (and before that a series of bands with drummer – and future AC/DC biographer - Murray Engleheart) who also bore a strong Ramones influence.  Like the Lime Spiders, the Rifles amassed rabid followings in Europe and the US, and they headed over as soon as they could.

The Celibate Rifles (Live at the Ramones’ old stomping ground CBGB’s) 

As the Lime Spiders & Celibate Rifles were topping the indie charts at home and making inroads o/s, a younger generation was entering the fray. The Hard-ons, from Sydney’s south, had strong Ramonesy ’77 punk roots that would soon speed up into something akin to hardcore punk, winning over a wide new young audience that hit critical mass less than a decade later with the arrival of the Offspring and Green Day...

"I loved all the punk bands of the 70's when I was growing up in Australia: Saints. Damned. Radio Birdman. Buzzcocks. X-Ray Spex. Adverts. Germs. Dead Boys. New York Dolls. The Jam. The band that moved me the most musically was the RAMONES.

The Ramones had a super-charged Rhythm of frenetic down-stokes at previously unheard-of velocity, grafted onto peerless bubble-gum melody.  As a young bass-player in the Hard-ons, I mimicked DEE DEE RAMONE by studying their first few LPs and seeing them on rare (at the time) videos. It was almost a race between the bass player and the drummer to see who could finish the song first. It produced and unfeasible urgency that has not been equalled by anyone since. I am not sure how the guys came up with this unique playing style but if you listen and watch other great bands such as the Buzzcocks or the Stranglers, you have GREAT tunes and tension but none of them could MATCH THE RAMONES for sheer exciting urgency of rhythm.

I quickly discovered playing all downstrokes on the bass needed physicality that was highly unorthodox and at the start, extremely difficult to pull off. When I started playing in the Hard-ons, a lot of my musician friends advised me to play up-and-down and wear the bass higher to the chest but I just wanted to copy Dee Dee. What an absolute genius and pioneer.

Then in Joey, you have the best melodic voice in punk or pop history, matched perhaps only by Debbie Harry or Colin Blunstone from the Zombies. Imagine that. The BEST VOICE singing for the most rampaging explosive punk rhythm.

Years after I discovered the Ramones, one day in 1991 in London I discussed the sonic qualities of the Ramones and its influence with Captain Sensible from the Damned. We both agreed, the bass playing is pushed and slightly ahead of the beat, thus pushing the Ramones' music from "rock" into "punk", giving it an aural illusion of being much faster than it actually is- in simple terms this is called URGENCY. WHAT BRILLIANT AND UNIQUE MUSICIANSHIP!!!

And this band has NEVER been equalled since."

Ray Ahn, the Hard-ons


Outside of Sydney, the Ramones influence was also heavy. Adelaide’s Exploding White Mice took their name from a scene in Rock’n’Roll High School, the great Alan Arkush B-movie that was a Ramones vehicle, and started off as a so called American Punk jukebox, covering the Ramones alongside the Stooges, New York Dolls, DMZ and others. Their own originals, when they came were very Ramonesy, and a couple at least were up there with best of the Ramones efforts; “Burning Red” and “Fear”.

Back in Melbourne, after a few lean years in which Ramones-style fun was pretty much a dirty word, things were picking up again (in many ways thanks to the push down south of the Sydney band’s, from the Scientists and Hoodoo Gurus through the Rifles, Lime Spiders etc.) A couple of bands, in particular, were cranking the guitars and making particularly unique rockin’ Ramones-inspired rackets that would set the pace for Melbourne through to the mid-‘90s.

The Cosmic Psychos combined the Super Yob mentality of prime Billy Thorpe & the Aztecs with the brain piercing wah wah attack of Ron Asheton in the Stooges with a Ramones style drive and a wall of sound. These guys were late bloomers; the Ramones influence had sunk in early and taken a decade or so of gestation before it spewed out of them:

“Mid-seventies. I’m 16. I think the world is fucked but I love the Ramones. I am now 55. I know the world is fucked but I still love the Ramones.”

Ross Knight, Cosmic Psychos

The Ramones influence on the Psychos is perhaps heard in their most famous song "Lost Cause". The song was incorporated into a song called "Fuel My Fire" by L7, which in turn was covered by The Prodigy. Here it is, introduced on Rage by none other than Josh Holme.

At least 10 years younger, the members of God had nonetheless been playing around on the Melbourne scene as long, if not longer than the Psychos guys. They were in their mid-teens when they recorded the iconic indie hit "My Pal" – a song whose influence continues to resonate. But there was more to God than just that one song. Their influences were diverse – from ‘70s hard rock (Kiss) and metal (Sabbath, Motorhead) to Amercian hard-core punk (Black Flag), and they loved their ‘70s punk rock. Given its title and the name of the Ramones second drummer, “Rockin’ Marky” always seemed like it should have been about the Ramones, but apparently in God parlance a “marky” as a rehearsal or jam session. Regardless it’s a killer tune.


“The Ramones teach you everything you need to know, straightaway. They are as much a part of the great American Songbook as the Everly Brothers but they wrote all their own songs. They will stand forever as classic American music. Soooo many classics. More than the Beatles, to me”

– Joel Silbersher, God (and Joel ain’t dissing the Everly Brohers there; his current band, the mighty Hoss, have recorded a cover of their lost 1965 gem ‘You’re My Girl” for their forthcoming new album)

While the God kids were just starting high school, over in Perth, a young drummer Russell “Rusty” Hopkinson, whose life had been changed by the Ramones, was starting a career that would take him through a number of important alternative bands before finding success in one of Australia’s biggest and most loved bands in the ‘90s.

“As a snot nosed, mid-seventies, primary schooler who thought that pretty much everything in pop-music sucked, The Ramones first album landed in my lap like manna from heaven in the form of a cassette.

Given to me by my brother’s friend Roddy, my bro’ being more a Doobies kinda guy didn’t want it, The Ramones hit me from the first pounding beat and group chants of “Blitzkrieg Bop” and I knew I’d found a group that made sense in a bland age of soft rock hits that dominated the blue-light-discos. Not only that, The Ramones lead me on a path to discover so many other great groups from the past, present, and future. They were like a beacon that indicated there was more to this rock ’n’ roll thing than what commercial radio told you.

Roddy was the coolest kid in my street and would end up playing in some of my favourite Australian groups of the late-seventies and early eighties. A few weeks after giving me the cassette, and after much hassling on my part, he taught me how to play bar-chords to Ramones songs on my Yamaha acoustic and suddenly the world of rock ’n’ roll seemed closer than ever. When I eventually found myself manning the drum stool, it was the elegance, simplicity, and energy of both Tommy and Marky’s playing on those early records that remain a primary influence to this day.”

-Rusty Hokinson


Rusty’s neighbour, by the way, was Rod Radalj – founding member of the Scientists and Hoodoo Gurus and later the Johnnys and Dubrovniks. After stints in Vicious Circle in Melbourne, the Bamboos and Kryptonics back in Perth, and then pop-punks Nursery Crimes in Melbourne, Rusty would eventually join You Am I in 1993, and would also briefly join Radio Birdman in the new millennium.

That’s it for now, see you next time… but in the mean time, check out our I Like: The Ramones Spotify playlist.



- DL

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