Morrissey at age 17: "Ramones are Rubbish"

A crotchety 17-year-old "Steve" Morrissey complained about the Ramones in a letter that ran in the July 24, 1976 issue of Melody Maker.

Dangerous Minds: Morrissey at age 17: "Ramones are Rubbish"


    1. No he’s right about the music, just missed what their appeal was. When in art school a good friend worked/lived with Arturo Vega, The Ramones’ long time friend and artist. He would put on a tape of their shows (I wasn’t a fan at the time) and say “you have to feel their energy, that’s what’s so great about them.” I feel pretty lucky to have met all the Ramones while they were still alive. At the time I didn’t even care really as I wasn’t into them. Joey was so nice in person though. A real sweetheart.

      1. “I feel pretty lucky to have met all the Ramones while they were still alive.”

        This. I hear the dead ones are very unpleasant to meet these days.

    2. I have yet to meet a single person — even the snobbiest music snob — who actually follows the view that “simple music is bad music” to its logical conclusion.  Somehow people who shit on the Ramones or similar bands for being “too simplistic” or whatever don’t turn out to spend all their time listening to Rachmaninoff and Ornette Coleman. 

      People stopped calling me a “music snob” when I realized a few things and changed my behavior accordingly:
      1) Simple music is often good (complex music often isn’t very good)
      2) So the “goodness” or “badness” of music is a function mostly of subjective taste, not of objective qualities of the music itself
      3) So the proper response to music I don’t like is “This isn’t really my thing,” not “this music sucks and you should feel bad for enjoying it”.

      I’ve had much better conversations about music ever since making the change.

      1. I came around to this too, largely through punk and the realization that those people who denigrated it in conversations with me, saying metal is superior because of the musicianship, should by extension only be listening to classical and jazz. So, similar conclusion, though I like how yours is stated and will be borrowing it to some extent. But I think it’s a rather natural line for a young, talented, pretentious person to make.

        1.  You can also point out that “Kind of Blue” is basically just two notes repeated a few times, then moved up a half step and repeated a few times, then moved back down to root and repeated a few times.  Music snobs can go argue with Miles Davis if they want.

        1. If you agree with Morrissey that “Ramones are rubbish” because they “make MC5 look like concertmasters” then my reply was very much to you.

          1. If you think I agree with Morriseys assessment absolutely, because I pointed out how not entirely wrong he was, then you’re very much talking to yourself.

            Also, your snobbery, you may not have come as far with it as you think.

      1. Exactly, and sometimes you want to PARTY to some of the most tuneful short fast and fun music ever made!

      2. He may have been indicating the Stooges were better, but he still seemed to be shitting on them.

        I don’t give a crap, I love every band he’s mentioned and I love The Smiths and I love half of his solo stuff. Also his hair. Morrissey had great hair.

  1. Wow, it kind of reads like a scathing troll post that lacks sincerity; all the while pumping out hyperbole to fluff out an attempt at controversy.

    I could imagine Morrissey would have never wrote awesome music with The Smiths if the internet were at its capacity then as it is now. He’d be too busy trollin’.

  2. The boy with the thorn in his butt…..

    Just a few of the NYC bands unworthy of any praise that would have been part of that scene:

    Talking Heads, The Cramps, Television, Suicide, Blondie and so on…

    Ah but Morrissey, I still loves ya.

    1. As I was reading him saying only Patti Smith and NYD were worthy, I was puzzling over the Television omission myself. But then I realized Marquee Moon only came out in 1977, and this is 1976. Still, to say that those are the only two artists in the city worthy of note shows and arrogance that can only be described as admirable, and was perhaps a trait necessary for some of the greater Smiths lyrics.

      1.  Good point, if he was only getting records in England I suppose he may not have known about all the bands in that existing scene.

      2. Arrogance compounded by the fact that (as far as I know) he’d never even been to New York, let alone explored the music scene.

        1. Which arguably loops right back to ‘arrogance’, since he was making authoritative pronouncements about the place…

    2. Just a few of the NYC bands unworthy of any praise that would have been part of that scene:
      Talking Heads, The Cramps, Television, Suicide, Blondie and so on…

      Don’t know about the others, but Morrissey certainly liked The Cramps- so much that he started a fan club (which The Cramps themselves later demanded be shut down).

      This letter was just one of many outspoken pronouncements in the letters pages of UK music magazines.

  3. I can’t remember what episode this is in, but there was a studio segment in MST3K — it was an invention exchange thing with the Mads — with “Morrissey” coming out of a coffin-shaped box and moping hilariously. I’m sure if you look for it on youtube you’ll find it.

  4. You’ve neatly put another tick in the column of the “which show do I go to that night” for Mike Watt.  Morrissey/Watt are playing the same night in Albany, NY in October.  I have two separate parts of my high school self that are arguing the case.  In Morrissey’s favor, I never saw him or the Smiths.  In Watt’s favor, I saw him a year and a half ago and it was AMAZZZZEEEEEING.

    1.  though I lack Morrisey’s credentials, I gotta say they were pretty great at Music Midtown last weekend.  
      annnd it loads my photo sideways.  welcome to amateur hour \(--)/ マイッタ

  5. I always wondered what folks saw in the Ramones myself.

    Joey: “We decided to start our own group because we were bored with everything we heard. In 1974 everything was tenth-generation Led Zeppelin, tenth-generation Elton John, or overproduced, or just junk. Everything was long jams, long guitar solos…. We missed music like it used to be.”

    Someone prolly shoulda told em about MC5 or The Stooges.

    If I wanna listen to some punk, these guys don’t cut any ice with me… Dead Kennedys all the way.

      1. A former girlfriend almost bumped into Joey coming out of a store. She was taken aback and said “Joey Ramone!”

        Joey: (smiling) “Yeah?”
        FGF: “Uhh. Good!”

        I like to think I would have been more eloquent and have stopped at “Uhh.”

      2. I have to agree with Ian down the page.

        …straight power chords or non-political lyrics didn’t inspire me much. I liked high energy, originality, a rhythm riff, a tasty lead and some harmonic feedback here and there with a dose of social/political critique or just counter-culture badassness.

        Jello’s obit there certainly pays homage to em as counter-culture badarses, and I can appreciate their importance of course, but their sound never did a thing for me, and AFAIK, their lyrics wouldn’t have either…

        Just sayin’.

      1. Yeah, to be fair, I was being a bit of a smartarse with that call. Used to work for a guy who’d tell me about the 70s as something to be musically endured… reckoned if he never heard ‘Hotel California’ again he could die a happy man.

    1. Johnny Ramone in Ugly Things #14:
      “U.T.: What were the MC5 like live?
      J.R. : Really good, but I saw something better in the Stooges. I really like MC5, so I don’t wanna say anything negative (…) somehow the Stooges transcended that. It was just so sick, the whole show…”

  6. A rather Morrissey-like way for him to say “Why are The Ramones getting more attention than my precious New York Dolls?”  Was he not president of The New York Dolls fanclub in the UK at this point?

  7. He wrote “discordant” as if it were a bad thing! No wonder the scorn of Eris befell him in later years.

  8. History would record that that angry young man would soon move from Manchester to Detroit, Michigan. There, he met a young woman named Susie who understood why he was so passionate about music. For you see, Steve Morrisey was blind. He cared so much because sound was so much a part of how he interacted with the world. For Steve, music was, as he said, the only real way to experience the “wonder” that life had to offer.

    Susie encouraged him to make his own music, to share with the world the sweet, shy, tender man she had come to love. Soon people all over the Motor City were flocking to hear his music. His songs, soulful and cheerful and melodic, were a runaway hit.

    But the record companies didn’t like the name “Steve Morrissey.” So for his debut album, Songs in the Key of Life, he changed it… to Stevie Wonder.

    And now you know… the rest of the story.

  9. Sometimes I can listen to Morrissey, but most of the time I can’t get over the same damn minor third he sings over and over, changing only to be slightly more out of tune than the last one.  Puzzling how the effect is half pleasing and infuriating at the same time.

  10. When it comes to criticism, be it about music, art or literature, I find it best to stick with praising what you like and just ignore what you don’t, it’s all highly subjective after all. 

    For myself, if someone is out there creating something, that’s enough for me. If it resonates with me, all the better, but I don’t feel the need to knock other people’s work. 

    Although I’ve tried to get into them, I’ve never been that big of a fan of either Morrissey or the Ramones. Most of my friends are big fans of one or the other or both, but they simply didn’t resonate much with me, that doesn’t discredit their work. My first exposure to punk was the Sex Pistols and I preferred to listen to political punk with some guitar flare or originality. My biggest influences at the time were the Pistols, Heartbreakers and Gang of Four. As a guitar player and political radical before punk, straight power chords or non-political lyrics didn’t inspire me much. I liked high energy, originality, a rhythm riff, a tasty lead and some harmonic feedback here and there with a dose of social/political critique or just counter-culture badassness.

    I met Johnny and Dee Dee in ’80 or ’81 when they showed up at a party after they played in my hometown. We gave them a copy of our single. It was a fun concert and they seemed like amiable enough guys. They both freaked out when I opened a beer with my teeth. Of course, I didn’t know anything about Johnny’s political preferences at the time, he just seemed like any other guy in a leather jacket. I saw them play a few times after that.

  11. Thanks for providing a brand new reason why Morrissey is a complete and total wanker. Now off to dig up a certain Warlock Pinchers 12″ to listen to.

Comments are closed.