VIDEO FEED: Ramones on Champaign, IL TV News 1978

Ramones live 1978, photo by Sue Rynski
Ramones live 1978, photo by Sue Rynski
posted Tuesday Sep 30th, 2014

Friends and fellow followers of the far out, heed these words! Our quest for arcane rock and roll over-stimulation leads us to Champaign, Illinois USA. The city is located 135 miles south of Chicago and 178 miles northeast of St. Louis, MO. Despite its locale, newly uncovered newscast footage shows central IL doing its part for the cultural vanguard known as…punk rock! On August 1st 1978, The Ramones played a gig at the now legendary Red Lion Inn. I imagine the Red Lion’s parking lot normally filled with El Caminos, Firebirds, or better yet, vans with smoke wafting out of them, as denizens of the drab prepared to worship the likes of REO Speedwagon, Head East, or more understandably, Rockford’s greatest hope - Cheap Trick! However, on this fateful day in August, enlightened “heads” showed up - captured here forever on film.

These wigged out weirdos were incorporating elements of the punk aesthetic [safety pins, ties], but I can see mustaches, curly mid-length hair, and satin baseball jackets were still the order of the day. With minor modifications, these rock soldiers could live “punk life” and the very next day, be right back with their buds, puffing up to B.O.C. or Black Oak Arkansas! Only archival photos of Ohio’s Bizarros rival the wonderful transitional phase depicted here on YouTube.

Much eye candy is present when the newscast enters the Market Place Mall in Champaign, where Musicland is hosting a Ramones autograph session. Assistant Manager Don Batchelder is on hand, looking very much like Johnny Slash from Square Pegs, in his bitchin’ white tuxedo shirt, bow tie, and geek glasses. I remember guys like this well, staring stoically when you brought up an AC/DC record, and making you feel like you were spearheading a new revolution when you dropped P.I.L. or Gang Of Four on the counter. I wonder if Mr. Batchelder is still carrying the torch, or if he retreated to the safety of alt-country like so many of the original central Illinois vanguard did? [Sigh, that’s another story!] Audiophiles will spring wood viewing gratuitous stacks of The Ramones’ Rocket To Russia LP, and one heck of an almost life-sized cutout of The Ramones on display at the Musicland autograph signing. I wonder who the lucky dog was, who walked off with that? Do any of these promo cutouts still exist?

Spliced throughout all the central Illinois rock scene footage, we see primo vintage footage of Queens NY’s finest export, hammering it home as only they can. Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee, and now Tommy have all left the mortal coil, but thanks to the internet – The Ramones have left us with a visual musical legacy that I’m certainly grateful for. Oh, one final thought…was that a power pack I saw pinned to the jacket of “that” guy, standing outside of the Red Lion? Whoa, the Midwest…mothers, guard your children!

With less than 200 views and such incredible quality TV news video footage from central Illinois, you can bet this is one rare video! (Massive thanks to Frankie Foodpoisoning)