Danny Fields’ importance as one of rock’n’roll’s sidemen simply cannot be understated. As if signing and managing Iggy & The Stooges, working alongside The Velvet Underground, Jim Morrison, the MC5, Modern Lovers and more wasn’t enough, he was also the guy who, as Managing Editor of US teen bible Datebook Magazine in 1966, published an old John Lennon interview where the Beatle had made a fleeting reference to Liverpool’s finest now being “more popular than Jesus”. While the quote went unnoticed in the UK, Fields shone a light on it in Datebook – and the US bible belt barely let The Fab Four ever forget it.
But Fields will forever be best known for discovering, nurturing and managing (alongside Linda Stein) the Ramones, who he first saw perform at CBGB’s in 1975. He’s got a book of his candid photographs of the band out now, and he’s written us a guide to a few of them. The pictures take in everything from buying amps to touring the world. “We had an unspoken agreement,” he explained about his role as photographer-manager. “I’m silently saying, ‘We hope these are going to be good pictures. You like my pictures, you like me, and I’m your manager so there won’t be any photographs that could hurt your career’.”
‘My Ramones’ by Danny Fields is out now, published by First Third Books.
Recording the First Album
"We all felt that the event should be photographed, but not while the actual recording was in progress. These were musicians at work, after all, making their first album, so I decided to get shots of the guys in the studio, with and without instruments while they were tuning up, ordering food, calling home, checking on what equipment was needed and discussing playbacks."
The First Video Shoot
"With their first album ready to release in early 1976 the Ramones were booked into M.P.C.S’s TV studio to shoot what Rock Scene Magazine would refer to as a ‘special 20 minute full colour surprise TV show’. I was there taking pictures. Arturo Vega’s backdrop with the band’s name seems to sag a bit, but that would add to the punkiness of the production, it was hoped!"
Buying A PA
"This shoot was staged but the shopping was real. Preparing to support the first album with their first US tour, the Ramones were ready to do what every young band dreams of; buy Big Equipment for their Big Sound! The guys in a showroom full of gear like kids in a candy store seemed like a ready-made Rock Scene story. I accompanied them to Quantum Audio for an afternoon of shopping."
Dee Dee by the Pool in LA
"In every issue of ‘16’ Magazine there was a pin-up page called ‘Hunk Of The Month’. If the subject was shirtless we called him ‘Adonis Of The Month’. The swimming pool at the Sunset Marquis gave Dee Dee the opportunity to audition for Hunk or Adonis, or maybe a new category! And what IS Dee Dee wearing?"
"It was the afternoon of 22 October 1976, ten days before the election in which Jimmy Carter toppled sitting president Gerald Ford. Washington looked remarkably empty. Between posing the guys would frolic until I spotted another stately sight. If you can get rid of all the DC soldiers and tourists, you too can take pictures as memorable as we were fortunate enough to get that day."
Washington Square Arch
"The Ramones react to pro-communist graffiti stencilled on the iconic/ironic Washington Square arch. When it was a question of being funny or giving a good picture, they’d go for the good picture – but if they could do both they would. Here they could go beyond joking and flirt with politics."
Joey With Fans
"The Ramones would not leave a gig until every person standing outside the dressing room got an autograph. They always knew how important their fans were, and were very respectful. In pictures with fans they automatically knew to hold back and let their fan’s excitement come through. Thankfully these were the days before selfies – those would have got on Johnny’s nerves, a lot!"
Johnny In Marseilles:
"A miserable morning in Marseilles for Johnny – last night’s show was cancelled after the band blew the city’s power supply at soundcheck. Ahead are hundreds of miles in a bus with the Talking Heads. Johnny hates them, and their fans, and the food in France, where there are five more cities to play."
"When you start a band, one of your expectations, besides getting laid a lot, is that you’re going to have your picture taken. Like all groups, the Ramones started out feeling awkward about being photographed. So they worked at it. They used their sessions with me, where they had some control and freedom, to learn how to be in front of a camera. I learned a lot too!"
London, July 1976
"Still not sure how it happened, but within weeks of the release of the first Ramones album, in April 1976, and after getting to play as far from New York as Nashua, New Hampshire – 250 miles away – Seymour Stein, who’d signed the band to Sire records, told me they had been booked to play the Roundhouse in London; capacity 3,300 people; distance from CBGB’s about 3,400 miles."
Backstage After The Rainbow – New Year’s Eve 1977
L-R: Linda Clark, Leee Black Childers, Nancy Spungen, Sid Vicious, Dee Dee Ramone
"The Ramones toured extensively in 1977 and ended the year with two weeks in the UK and a New Year’s Eve concert at the Rainbow. The show was recorded for an album, which is listed by both NME and Rolling Stone as one of the 50 Greatest Live Albums Of All Time."