Marky Ramone's New Book Documents His Time With Iconic Punk-Rock Band Ramones
There are only a handful of bands that truly stand the test of time and resonate with fans spanning across the globe and the generations. Bands like The Beatles, The Ronettes and the Ramones.
Longtime drummer for the group and one of its only surviving members, Marky Ramone, wrote a book titled “Punk Rock Blitzkrieg: My Life as a Ramone” that came out this week. We caught up with him about his new memoir in which he reflects on his life, career and years spent in the iconic band.
"I had the opportunity to observe the other three members in the band for 15 years and 1,700 shows and however many tens or even hundreds of thousands of miles," Ramone said.
The dynamics of the group are well documented and it wasn’t always pretty. Clashes over politics, creative direction and even girlfriends were a huge part of life offstage for the band. In his new book, Ramone delves into extraordinarily detailed recounts of the group’s adventures and squabbles that later became legendary. Like what it was like to record with well-known rock producer, Phil Spector.
"Well he never pointed a gun at us in the studios," Ramone said. "That’s just a rumor."
A rumor that was not completely surprising, considering a similar rumor existed about Spector when he produced John Lennon and Leonard Cohen. Ramone said Spector never actually pulled a gun on them, but he does say in the book that Spector pulled out two pistols and laid them on the table.
Intimidating to some, but not to Ramone.
"Phil was a very unusual person and of course with a huge ego," he said. "But he was the greatest producer America had – rock producer. So we were very grateful to work with him. But along with that came, you know, all the craziness. I mean, we as the Ramones weren’t your normal people either."
Throughout the book’s tales, from humorous to heartbreaking, it’s hard to forget that there’s a unique sense of loss accompanying each story, because the other most prominent members of the band have all passed away.
"'Course it was emotional because the other three members weren’t around anymore, and if I’m gonna talk about someone else I gotta talk about myself too and what I went through concerning the rehab I – two rehabs I was in and all the craziness that went down in my life," he said.
The craziness that Ramone is referring to includes the four years in the mid-80s when he was asked to leave the band because of his severe alcoholism. After spending time in rehab and getting clean, he rejoined the band in 1987.
Ramone remained with the band until their break up in 1996. In 2001, frontman Joey Ramone died of lymphoma, and in the years since, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy Ramone all passed away.
"Death is a horrible thing, especially when you die young," Marky Ramone said. "I mean, they died too young to enjoy the fruits of their labor. But I find if I’m playing the songs and I see it in the audience that I’m providing them entertainment that they like, if I stopped doing this, I would feel bad not playing those songs. So that’s why I continue, 'cause it was always a joy playing them and it helps perpetuate the memory of the band."
Ramone still plays the Ramones music in his own band, Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg. And more than 35 years later, he couldn’t be happier about it.
Ramone will be in town Tuesday, Jan. 20 at the Crescent Ballroom in conversation with the Arizona Republic’s Ed Masley.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been modified to reflect the correct spelling of The Ronettes.
Updated 1/19/2015 at 9:59 a.m.