Johnny Ramone: Commando

Reading an autobiography by someone as well known as Johnny Ramone will not lead you to vast insights, unknown tales and revelations but it will entertain you and give you a little better understanding on the type of person it took to hold The Ramones together. Written while he knew his life was probably coming to an end, this book is at least a way to look back on the past through Johnny and remember the man who kept one of the most influential bands of all times going.

I consider myself lucky to have seen The Ramones play live as many times as I did and really feel bad for those who never had the chance. I don’t think there would be Punk Rock as we know it without The Ramones and the list of bands and people they influenced could fill a book…. a really big book and much of the reason why they did influence so many was because of Johnny, and this is a fact he seemed well aware of. He often would tell his wife, “Linda, I am unique, a legend, and always right” jokingly I am sure, but not without a little bit of self understanding and once while in Los Angeles someone yelled out “Hey, you’re driving a Cadillac…How are you punk if you’re driving a Cadillac?” Johnny says back “What the fuck are you talking about? I wrote the book on punk….I decide what’s punk.”

 

One really cool thing in the book is an album by album assessment of all The Ramones releases and his favorite songs from each, I found it very interesting to read his thoughts on them and liked the fact that he could be critical, who else but Johnny had that right? There is an example in his review of the Adios Amigos album that shows he was the driving force of the band, it’s protector and director. When showing up for the shoot for the back cover he told them the band would be facing away from the camera, he was very protective of how they looked at that point in time so the back cover ended up being a shot of the band with their backs to a firing squad. Johnny got his way, like he did a lot of times. Fitting.

 

–Mikey Kaos

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