The last Ramone standing dishes on Johnny, Joey, Dee Dee and Tommy, but the drummer is a lot more revealing about his own remarkable life outside the famously dysfunctional band.
There’s nothing in Ramone’s (born Marc Bell) sometimes bitingly funny rock ’n’ roll memoir that sheds new light on the Ramones’ notoriously eccentric band dynamic. Efforts to fully understand just how the Ramones operated remain as elusive as ever. However, this story about how a longshoreman’s son from Brooklyn somehow became one of the progenitors of a new musical art form born in the bowels of downtown dive bars is compelling enough on its own. The Ramones were still in their heyday in the late 1970s when Tommy Ramone, the group’s original drummer, decided he’d had enough. At the time, the soon-to-be Marky Ramone was already a key figure in the CBGBs music scene, helping to trumpet the arrival of the “Blank Generation” with the likes of Wayne County and Richard Hell and the Voidoids. “Richard was an interesting-looking guy,” writes the author. “He wore his hair kind of spikey. I didn’t know if it was intentional or just the result of not shampooing much.” Marky ultimately got the Ramones gig, and the New York rockers were able to march forward with their Chuck Taylors laced tight and their leather jackets zipped up. Unfortunately, the brotherhood was in shambles. The author recalls the ongoing fights and feuds, as well as his own descent into the bottle. Drumming for the Ramones sent him way over the edge and into a terrifying rehab center on Staten Island, but he was able to claw his way back to sobriety with a newfound sense of purpose. Sadly, time ran out for the rest of the Ramones, and they never got to fully share in brother Marky’s enlightenment.
A workmanlike but illuminating book for fans of the Ramones and punk rock in general.