Commando : The Autobiography Of Johnny Ramone

Commando :  The Autobiography Of Johnny Ramone

Commando : The Autobiography Of Johnny Ramone

by Johnny Ramone

Abrams Image

“We sent five of the songs we recorded to record companies, and they quickly sent them back. You could see that the tape was rewound after they had only listened to half a song. They never even bothered after the first thirty seconds. We never even considered that the music was seriously whacked or anything.

John Williams Cummings, aka Johnny Ramone, was the leader of The Ramones, and his story, like his music, is short, aggressive and takes no prisoners. From his early days in Long Island where he developed his life-long passion for baseball, Elvis and horror movies, to his battle with cancer that ended his life in 2004, he never flinches when recalling his past.

There have been loads of books by and about the Ramones, and the band is more popular now than when they were together. You read a few of them, and you quickly surmise the glue that held them together — and it wasn’t Carbona. It was Johnny. Early on he saw them as the greatest band in America — and for those first four albums- Ramones in 1976, Leave Home in 1977, Rocket To Russia, 1977, and Road To Ruin, 1978 — he was right. Nothing prepared you for The Ramones. An entire set was 15 minutes, the songs were under two minutes of blinding aggression, wrapped up in a Sixties pop sheen. From day one, Johnny thought of the band as a job, only instead of the shovel he carried working construction, he carried a guitar and played CBGBs.

He was a conservative in a industry of liberals, a two-beer-a-night guy surrounded by drunks, and carried a baseball guide on the road to show him where he could watch a game in whatever town they were in. He didn’t “get” Joey, his hirsute singer, and for the most part they didn’t speak. He casually mentions the fact that bassist Dee Dee didn’t play on the last three albums he was credited for, and when he speaks of the band’s latter period he is quick to say the records “weren’t good”, and is withering in his assessment of his band mates. He and the band didn’t really fit in with the New York scene of the late ’70s, and he had no affection for fellow pioneers such as Blondie (Just some pop group) or the Talking Heads — Tina Weymouth really got on his nerves. But as long-time pal Lisa Marie Presley says in the Epilogue, “He was grouchy” — and a dear friend.

Johnny Ramone made The Ramones what they were: legendary. He did it with unmatched intensity and an eye on the bottom line. He did it unapologetically, much like his autobiography. Highly recommended.

Johnny Ramone: www.johnnyramone.com

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Recently on Ink 19...

  • Preservation Hall Jazz Band
    Preservation Hall Jazz Band

    So It Is (Legacy). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

  • From Montenegro to Moldova: The Best of SEEFest 2017
    From Montenegro to Moldova: The Best of SEEFest 2017

    For the twelfth year, the South East European Film Festival (SEEfest) in Los Angeles showcased an impressive lineup of new features and shorts. Lily and Generoso Fierro provide a festival wrap up and their picks for the films that you cannot miss.

  • Justin Townes Earle
    Justin Townes Earle

    Kids In The Street (New West Records). Review by James Mann.

  • Christian Scott
    Christian Scott

    Rebel Ruler (Ropeadope / Stretch Music). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

  • Kivanç Sezer
    Kivanç Sezer

    Turkish director Kivanç Sezer’s powerful debut feature, My Father’s Wings, puts the spotlight on the workplace safety crisis that is currently taking place in his homeland. Lily and Generoso Fierro spoke with Sezer at SEEFest 2017 about his film and his need to draw attention to this issue.

  • Temples
    Temples

    Supporting their just-released sophomore record, UK synth-pop poster boys, Temples, attracted an SRO crowd to one of Orlando’s premier nightspots.

  • Rat Film
    Rat Film

    Baltimore. Rats. A match made in Maryland.

  • Bishop Briggs
    Bishop Briggs

    Bishop Briggs brings a stacked bill of up and comers to Orlando for a sold-out party at The Social. Jen Cray joins in the fun.

  • Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World
    Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World

    There’s more than black music influencing the evolution of Rock and Roll. Native American rhymes and ideas are every bit as significant, once you know to look for them.

  • Keith Morris
    Keith Morris

    Ink 19 slings a few questions to the punk rock pioneer Keith Morris on Trump, Calexit and looking back.

From the Archives