Ramone is arguably one of the most famous last names in rock and roll. After all, every member of The Ramones took that name as their last name to be a part of the band. So, what is the meaning of Ramones?
The Ramones took the last name Ramone for each of its band members as a tribute to Paul McCartney, who famously used the last name of Ramon as a pseudonym when touring before the Beatles became a worldwide phenomenon. But the word itself is German in origin, loosely meaning protector.
But most people didn’t know that about McCartney.
The surname ‘Ramone’ became a legend in itself when it was adopted by a scraggly gang of garage band musicians who went on to start (or at least popularize) the genre of punk music.
Today, you can’t walk down the street without seeing some punk kid with the iconic Ramones t-shirt.
I was curious about how The Ramones got their name as a band and wanted to dig a little deeper into the subject.
How did Dee Dee find the name? How did he convince his other bandmates to adopt it as their collective last name, giving the impression that they were all related?
And what does the word ‘Ramone’ actually mean?
Shocked to find there is no Ramones t-shirt generator on the internet allowing you to change the names. pic.twitter.com/DXfHoeo9ap
— Julian Tysoe (@kradlum) November 8, 2019
How did the Ramones pick their name?
Dee Dee Ramone was a die-hard fan of Paul McCartney and chose the band name The Ramones after hearing the story of McCartney using the last name ‘Ramon’ to gain anonymity when checking in at hotels while touring in the early days of The Beatles.
This was well before Beatle-mania took over the world. Dee Dee liked the sound of the name, so he decided to adopt it as his own last name.
Eventually, the other original band members, Joey, Johnny, and Tommy, did the same and collectively became known as The Ramones. There was a long-standing rumor that the members of the band that would come to be known as the Ramones picked their name by throwing a dart at the phone book, with fate having that dart land on the name Ramone.
While that’s a good story, it’s simply not true – at least according to Marky Ramone (the band’s long-standing drummer).
Just taught my kid the names of all the Ramones. (Dee Dee is both of our favorite.) He thought it was pretty funny that you can see Marky’s belly button. pic.twitter.com/A1MJmbR3Hb
— Egregious Philbin (@philmuses) January 12, 2019
Why do the Ramones all have the same last name?
Dee Dee Ramone talked his bandmates into taking on the same last name and christening the band with it as if they were a family band of brothers.
If you take a minute to think about it, at the time, it was actually really popular to have a band named after its members, especially if they were all part of the same family.
The Ronettes (who famously opened for the Beatles), The Allman Brothers, The Carpenters, Jackson 5, Sister Sledge, and The Osmonds were all hugely popular groups back in the 60s and 70s.
There are many more that I didn’t list. It’s impressive how popular family bands were back then.
Maybe this group of friends wanted to capitalize on the trend by turning themselves into brothers. Or in a true punkish manner, they wanted to make fun of it?
Either way, each member of The Ramones had the same last name because they wanted it. It created a unified front, gave them complimentary stage names, and sealed their iconic image as exotic, hardcore godfathers of punk.
— Evolving (@jgruks) December 4, 2013
Does the word Ramone mean something in Spanish?
The name Ramon, or Ramone, is not Spanish. It is a variant of Raymond or Reimund. ‘Mund’ is actually of Germanic origin, meaning “protector”, and ‘Ragin’ is where they theorize the ‘ra’ or ‘rei’ comes from. ‘Ragin’ means ‘advice’.
While it isn’t technically a word in Spanish, it is both a first name and a last name that is used throughout all of Europe in various presentations.
The word ‘Ramone’ certainly sounds as if it came from overseas. There is something foreign about it that piques the interest of the curious.
It’s often been asked if the word is more than a simple last name. Does it actually mean anything? It sounds like it might come from Spanish, so I thought I’d look it up in a dictionary.
Interestingly, if you search for the word ‘ramone‘ online, everything that comes up has to do with my favorite punk band. So I had to really dig to get to that origin.
As you might expect, the word Ramon or Ramone is actually quite old.
The band members: Joey Ramone, bassist Dee Dee Ramone, guitarist Johnny Ramone, and drummer Tommy Ramone, although not biologically related, adopted Ramone as their last name, after being inspired by @PaulMcCartney, who used ‘Paul Ramon’ as a Pseudonym when checking into hotels. pic.twitter.com/2W2e6wtHNl
— Incentify (@clubincentify) April 23, 2021
Why did Paul McCartney use the name Ramon?
The members of the Beatles, including Paul, wanted to take on professional pseudonyms to sound more legit as rock stars. Paul chose the last name Ramon because he thought it made him sound more sophisticated.
While the stage names didn’t stick, it seems like they were useful for staying anonymous when needed.
This was back before the Beatles became an international sensation in the early days. But they were still really popular, particularly when they played in places like Hamburg, Germany.
Paul McCartney used the surname ‘Ramon’ because it was ‘exotic’.
He is quoted as saying, ¨… I became Paul Ramon, which I thought was suitably exotic. I remember the Scottish girls saying, ‘Is that his real name? That’s great!’ It’s French, Ramon. Ra-mon, that’s how you pronounce it.¨
— Matthew Chernov (@MatthewChernov) October 22, 2016
Did the Ramones legally change their names?
None of the band members of The Ramones legally changed their last name to Ramone. However, Johnny’s widow Linda did legally change her last name to Ramone in 2014.
Marky Ramone explained that in his situation, he kept his original last name.
In one interview, he explained, “There was no need to change my name legally. My bills would still come to Marc Bell. And so would my paychecks.”
As I mentioned, the only person associated with the band that legally changed their last name to Ramone is Linda Cummings-Ramone, the widow of Johnny Ramone.
She was Linda Cummings up until 2014, a full decade after her husband had passed away from cancer.
When she legally changed her name, Mickey Leigh (Joey Ramone’s brother and inheritor of his 50% interest in Ramone Productions, Inc.) commented that her use of the name was “improper and unauthorized”.
There was actually a years-long legal battle that ensued, ending in an arbitration agreement that very specifically dictates her rights to legally use the Ramone name in certain situations.
But there had been bad blood between Linda and Joey for decades, given that she was Joey’s girlfriend when she started secretly dating Johnny.
When she left Joey for Johnny, it fractured the band, and the 2 bandmates barely spoke again. Johnny didn’t even attend Joey’s funeral.
So it’s not a big surprise that Joey’s brother isn’t a big fan of Linda. Considering that her last name was Cummings at the time of her husband’s death, we can only assume that Johnny Ramone had legally maintained his last name of Cummings.
It’s not clear from my investigations if any of the other Ramones really legally changed their names, but I doubt it. If Johnny and Marky didn’t, why would the others?
When I think about what I learned after looking into what the meaning of ‘Ramones’ is, I can only come up with one conclusion.
The Ramones is a name that goes beyond ‘protector’ or any literal meaning that can be attached to those seven letters.
When one hears the name ‘The Ramones’, one thinks about brotherhood. One thinks about punk, about stiffing the system, about loyalty to fans, and above all, groundbreaking music.
And, of course, the reasoning behind why they chose it was Dee Dee’s love of Paul McCartney, who used the fake last name Ramon in the early days of The Beatles.
Photo which requires attribution: