According to Joey Ramone, Sheena is a comic book character who first appeared in the late 1930s. After her explorer father dies, Sheena is brought up in the central African jungle by Koba the witch doctor. The adult Sheena becomes “queen of the jungle”. Roll on to 1977 and comic book fan Joey introduced the fearless queen of the jungle into what became one of the most iconic punk rock songs ever. Here’s a great animation of that vision:
“I combined Sheena, Queen of the Jungle with the primalness of punk rock. Then Sheena is brought into the modern day: ‘But she just couldn’t stay/she had to break away/well New York City really has it all.’ It was funny because all the girls in New York seemed to change their name to Sheena after that. Everybody was a Sheena.” Joey Ramone
‘Sheena is a Punk Rocker’ is the first song to refer to punk rock in its title and lyrics; in May 1977 it reached number 5 in the UK charts, and since then has been covered live and on disc by numerous famous names. In 2001, a remastered version was released.
But, like a lot of celebrity life, not everybody agrees with Joey’s straightforward explanation of the song. Fans are certain that there was an original wild punk girl called ‘Sheena’ – reputedly living in Moscow, Idaho and later in San Francisco – One fan says, “I recall the real Sheena was one real HOT punk rock girl.” Well, if she exists, we’d love to hear from the REAL Sheena!
The simplicity and energy of The Ramones music is and always has been wonderful, but what’s even better is that if you’re just starting to learn to play drums, ‘Sheena is a Punk Rocker’ is on the grade 1 syllabus for both drums and guitar. Come on girls, get playing!