Johnny Ramone

Corio/Michael Ochs Archive/Getty

Johnny Ramone invented punk-rock guitar out of hatred: He couldn't
stand guitar solos. So the former Johnny Cummings of Queens, New
York, played nothing but concrete-block barre chords on twenty-one
albums and 2,263 shows with the Ramones. His elementary attack was
part of the essential simplicity — matching last names,
two-minute tunes, a strict uniform of black leather and ripped
denim — with which the kings of Queens ruled punk rock from
the mid-1970s until they called it quits in 1996. But there was
more to Johnny's sound than bricks of distortion. "In sound checks,
the band would do a couple of songs without vocals," recalled the
band's late singer, Joey Ramone, in 1999. "I'd listen to John's
guitar and hear all these harmonics, these instruments like organ
and piano that weren't really there. And he didn't use any
effects." Johnny now lives in retirement in Southern California.