So what happens when the counterculture goes mainstream?
By the mid-1970s, bands such as Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and other progressive rock bands were wildly popular. They sold out arenas and countless copycat bands wanted to look and sound just like them.
Something had changed in rock ‘n’ roll though. Songs had become bloated. Bands created 15 minute monstrosities with five-minute instrumental preludes.
Rock ‘n’ Roll and become cumbersome and not everyone was happy about it. Another movement was growing — one that eschewed the perceived excesses of what was popular for something stripped down and gritty. Punk rock burst onto the music scene, and I promise, mom and dad didn’t like it.
The Ramones — Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy Ramone (pseudonyms) — are considered one of the originators of the genre.
Fourteen songs clock in at just under 30 minutes. With an average song length of two minutes, the album was anything but bloated.
Guitar, bass, drums and vocals — that was it. The tempo was as fast as the songs were short and the lyrics were anti-social and shocking.
It was unapologetically different from what was popular.
While the subject matter may have been controversial, the band still managed to build these blazing fast songs around ear-pleasing hooks.
Songs like “Beat on the Brat” and Judy is a Punk” might raise eyebrows, but they were catchy in a way that left people wanting more.
The album had limited commercial success but is now recognized as a major influence on modern rock.
The Ramones and other early punk innovators have been emulated and imitated since their debut. The early-90’s musical sea change that saw the emergence of grunge rock was really only the punk genre coming full-circle. The counterculture had broken through again.
Punk rock had become mainstream.