Wednesday 23rd January 1980 was the evening when many music fans from High Wycombe travelled the short (and ever familiar) journey across Buckinghamshire to see The Ramones at Aylesbury Friars. The occasion was one of the opening dates of their UK tour promoting their ‘End of the Century’ album – their 5th album release since they spearheaded the rise of the US punk scene in the mid 1970’s.
The US band were one of the few early punk pioneers not to have played High Wycombe and as the UK entered a new decade, demand for tickets was enormous. The local outlet in High Wycombe for tickets was Scorpion records. The £2.95 tickets (5p cheaper than The Clash gig at Friars on 5th January 1980) went on sale on the morning of Monday 31st December 1979 and were snapped up as fast as was humanly possible at the time.
My old school-friend, Martin Percival, and also a companion at many gigs over the intervening years, were both up early enough to get tickets. Martin recalls this gig as his first time seeing The Ramones and the catalyst for his love of the band rising to a different level. Over to you Martin, 1,2,3,4..
“This was the first of the 33* Ramones gigs that I saw between 1980 and 1996. Although I had enjoyed The Clash Friars gig two weeks previously, this was the gig that had a much greater impact on me at the time as well as over the longer term
Their January 1980 gig was the Ramones’ third and what proved to be their final Friars gig after playing twice in 1977 with Talking Heads in June and the Rezillos in December.
The Boys supported the Ramones for the whole tour and at the Rainbow gig in London their keyboard player Casino Steel accompanied the band on a very rare live rendition of the Ramones only top 10 UK hit single – a cover of the Ronette’s ‘Baby, I Love You’, produced by Phil Spector and featured on the ‘End of the Century’ album.
16 years previously in January 1964 the Ronettes original version peaked at No.11 in the UK charts, 3 places lower than the Ramones version did in 1980. Back in 1964 the Ronettes were touring the UK with a relatively new young UK band supporting them on their first national tour…… the Rolling Stones! On 21st January 1964 the 2 bands played 2 sets in Aylesbury at the Granada cinema. It was an incredibly foggy day – The Ronettes arrived late and didn’t even have time to change into their stage clothes before starting their first set. But at least they arrived… Brian Jones was lost in the fog and missed the gig completely!
Thankfully there were no weather problems for the evening in January 1980 where the sold out gig was also the night that The Ramones received the FA Cup – the Friars Aylesbury Cup! Joey Ramone looked slightly bemused when he was given the cup on stage on the night by Friars promoter Dave Stopps, but the band were very proud of it. When the compilation album ‘Ramones Mania’ was released in 1988, Arturo Vega, who designed the iconic Ramones eagle logo, made sure the cup was featured amongst other band memorabilia in a collage on the front cover of the album.
Friars was a venue that the Ramones loved and when I interviewed Johnny Ramone in Birmingham in December 1992 and mentioned the Friars gig he laughed and said how much he had enjoyed the venue and the Aylesbury crowd.”
Ramones – set-list – Aylesbury Friars 23rd January 1980
- Blitzkrieg Bop
- Teenage Lobotomy
- Rockaway Beach
- I Can’t Make It On Time
- Go Mental
- Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment
- Rock ‘N’ Roll High School
- I Wanna Be Sedated
- Do You Remember Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio?
- She’s the One
- I Just Want to Have Something to Do
- Sheena is a Punk Rocker
- Let’s Go
- Surfin’ Bird
- Cretin Hop
- All the Way
- Judy Is A Punk
- California Sun
- I Don’t Wanna Walk Around With You
- Today Your Love, Tomorrow The World
- Chinese Rock
- Beat on the Brat
*A big thank-you to Martin for his memories and yes I checked that the thirty three was not a typo.
References and further reading
Aylesbury Friars website – memories and photo galleries from January 1980
Aylesbury Music Town website – researched by Stephen Daglish – more from the 1960’s – an amazing resource
Ramones – Official website
The Boys – Official website
For your listening and viewing pleasure
The Ramones – The Old Grey Whistle Test – BBC TV
Recorded just a few days before their appearance at Aylesbury Friars