Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Raw Message Printable View Punk Rock Blitzkrieg – My Life as a Ramone – Marky Ramone

Just a few years older than me, Marky started playing drums as a teen and before he was 18, he was signed to a major label with the proto-metal power trio Dust. They started strong but petered out and dissipated when their second album failed to sell. There were not enough royalties to live on, so Marky held some odd jobs, lost an audition for the NY Dolls to Jerry Nolan, played in a country-rock group Estus (managed and produced by Andrew Oldham, of all people), recorded with blues legend Johnny Shines, spent a little time in Wayne County’s Back Street Boys and then joined the legendary Voidoids with Richard Hell, Robert Quine and Ivan Julian.

Unfortunately, bad timing from the record company (not coordinating their album release with their ground-breaking tour of England with the Clash) and Hell’s drug addiction meant that the Voidoids were not a lasting proposition. Marky quit and was picked up by his pals, the Ramones. Of course, as much as he loved the band and liked the guys as friends, it didn’t take long for Marky to discover their neuroses and annoying habits. The early touring days were, apparently, a blast on stage and, at least at times, very difficult on the road. But, the stories are great and entertaining and kinda makes you wish that you were there with them.

There's a chapter on the making of Rock'n'Roll High School with some harrowing stories of Johnny Ramones physically abusing his wife and Joey's girlfriend. Another chapter focuses on Phil Spector's production of End of the Century, which has some crazed and hilarious tales and which led to a lifelong friendship between Spector and Marky.
There are lots of tour stories and, of course, Marky’s side of the story of his expulsion from the Ramones after recording Subterranean Jungle (his drinking, which had accelerated by this point - even though Dee Dee and Joey were involved in more "serious" addictions - and aggressively arguing with the producer). From there, he apparently went on an alcoholic bender, had a serious traffic accident where he barely avoided killing a number of people and then went through DT’s while trying to dry out on his own. Of course, he did clean up through AA and went through four years outside of the Ramones, which was a bit of a surprise to me - I didn't realize that Ritchie Ramone was in the group for that long.

Of course, he re-joined just as Dee Dee was getting ready to leave to start his "career" as a rapper, but they did Brain Drain together, which included the title track to Stephen King's Pet Semetary. CJ becomes the bassist and, ironically, the band goes through their most popular period while slowly dissolving and eventually breaking up.

Naturally, Marky talks about the deaths of the other Ramones and how he tried to be the mediator between them all up tot he end, and then went into a bit about his solo career, which continues to this day - as a performer and a DJ (he has appeared at Las Vegas' Golden Tiki recently).

While he is a better drummer than a writer, I was pleasantly surprised at his style and intelligence and story-telling abilities. The book is an engaging and fun read with amazing stories of the first and greatest punk rock band and many of their cohorts. More than worth it!