A four-room salute to the three-chord brats that changed the face of music, fashion, and pop culture at large emerges at Queens Museum's new exhibit Hey! Ho! Let’s Go: Ramones and the Birth of Punk. Packed with behind-the-scenes photos, rare videos and personal ephemera, the collection includes lyrics Joey Ramone wrote for a solo album while receiving cancer treatment, bassist Dee Dee Ramone's surreal self-portraits, and even an extremely rare photo of the band members smiling in public.
Hey! Ho! Let’s Go is the brainchild of Marc H. Miller, a regular at punk hatchery CBGB in the late 1970s. In 1978, he curated a collection of punk art for the Washington Project for the Arts, and, working as a full-time curator for the Queens Museum, put together an exhibit honoring jazz giant Louis Armstrong. He currently runs the counterculture and visual arts online hub 98 Bowery. Miller says it took some time to convince Ramones' business managers to give him permission to put together the exhibit, but he eventually struck a deal which partners Queens Museum with the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles, where the exhibit will appear later on this year.
The band members' surviving relatives (all four original members have passed away) helped him procure their personal items, and Miller used his contacts in the art world, including illustrator John Holmstrom and era-defining journalist Legs McNeil, as well as his friendship with the band's road manager, Monte Melnick, to flesh out the rest of the show with illustrations, photos and more.
One of Miller's goals is to demonstrate the impact the band had beyond the world of music. Tthere's a display of the members' black leather jackets, jeans, and Converse, a look they turned into quintessential punk duds. Portraits of the band by renowned illustrators, like Charles Burns and Shepard Fairey, are included alongside stills from their guest appearance on The Simpsons. One of the first artists Miller contacted was Arturo Vega, the de facto fifth Ramone, who designed the band's iconic seal; he's honored with a wall bearing several decades’ worth of his merchandise and a portrait proudly displaying his Ramones logo back tattoo. (Vega passed away last year, shortly after meeting with Miller.)
Hey! Ho! Let’s Go: Ramones and the Birth of Punk is at Queens Museum through July 31st. Click here for more information.