Punk Rock, The Ramones, And Riots

The year was 1984 and the Ramones were playing at The Hollywood Palladium with Black Flag as their opening act. This would mark the very first time seeing them live for me and would go down in history as the most memorable, I was 15. My hair was short spiky platinum white and I wore a short black vintage dress, tied together with some fishnets and classic pointed black leather boots with fur straps. Even though my look was of a classic young punk for the day, I felt a little intimidated by the crowd going in. Looking back, it was one of several rights of passage for my young self. There were lots of leather jackets, hair color of every shade, and cone-shaped mo-hawks everywhere. You could smell the final net and cigarette smoke in the air. I was scared and strangely comfortable at the same time, these were my people.

The show was intense with one song rolling right into the next at a speed much faster than any of their studio recordings. The crowd happy to play along, 1..2..3..4 Blitzkrieg Bop, Teenage Lobotomy, Sheena is a Punk Rocker and so on…Joey owned the microphone with his towering stance, barely moving as he belted out tune after tune. Dee Dee and Johnny were playing with ferocity so fierce you could feel it in your bones. The energy of the floor bounced with the human pin-ball taking place before the stage. It was nowhere even close to the rinse cycle that goes on today. It was fun and no one got hurt.

Photo by Danny Fields

Unbeknownst to us the good times were getting ready to end just as quickly as they began with riot police waiting for us outside. The Palladium’s long hallway to the exits always made for an awkward exit, like cattle on their way to slaughter. Occasionally you would even hear a moo or two on the decent out. Nothing was out of the ordinary or threatening in anyway, just another punk show, no big deal. But some “authority” somewhere thought differently! Perhaps we were the “unruly” representation of a decaying society that needed to be squelched at it’s core.

As soon as we finally made it out of the exits, riot police were waiting for us everywhere, there was no escape. We were all kind of in shock wondering what the fuck!? Sunset Blvd was completely shut down with a line of riot police coming straight for us! We try and leave like we normally would after a show. Just stay cool and everything will be fine, I thought. Luckily my friend and I were parked directly across from the venue and took up a seat on the hood of the car as it all went down. There were punks getting chased down and beaten with batons, helicopters up above flashing lights down on the ground, police on horseback and a line of riot police across the Blvd all seemingly moving in at once. It was one of the most surreal and strangest events of my life. Out of all the provocation that evening only a couple bottles and a few bad words were thrown… Yes, Judy is a punk!

The Ramones perform at The Club in Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1976 (photo by Danny Fields)