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Marky Ramone dishes on bandmates in new memoir
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By Andrea Peyser
January 12, 2015

Marky Ramone dishes on bandmates in new memoir

Live long enough and you’ll find yourself arguing about politics with a rock star. Unexpectedly, I endured withering attacks on conservatism and on Johnny Ramone — perhaps the most right-wing rocker ever to roam the earth — made by unabashed liberal Marky Ramone.

“You know, I don’t like the politics,” the man who bills himself as one of the last surviving members of the late, great punk-rock band the Ramones, told me on the phone in his Brooklyn drawl.

“They” — he meant conservatives — “want to do away with Medicaid. They want to start this big oil pipeline that will pollute everything. This fracking thing.” He was talking about hydraulic fracturing, a potentially money-making method of drawing natural gas from the ground that was just banned by Gov. Cuomo under pressure from wrongheaded environmentalists.

“They’re for the rich and not the little guy. In my opinion, the conservatives are just about money.” Marky was starting to grate on my nerves.

The path to this awkward conversation was set in the 1970s. That was when I, a misfit ashamed of my upbringing in boring Queens and socially stunted by a lack of physical coordination that rendered me incapable of disco dancing, discovered the Ramones. The members of the world’s first punk band were not too hip to admit that they hailed from Forest Hills, Queens, on the wrong end of the F subway line.

Maybe there was hope for me, a kid in Bay Terrace, part of a cultural wasteland that offered the intellectual stimulation of a ­Gyne-Lotrimin commercial. These guys made me proud of my roots.

But now Marky, 58, (real name Marc Bell) who wasn’t even a founding member, is plundering the graves of the original Ramones, all four of whom died prematurely. His memoir, written with Rich Herschlag and due out Tuesday, is called “Punk Rock Blitzkrieg: My Life as a Ramone” (Touchstone). It details the quirks and lunacies of the core Ramones through the lens of an accomplished rock musician, which the first Ramones were not. He hailed not from Queens, but from hipper Brooklyn, replacing founding drummer Tommy Ramone (real name Thomas Erdelyi), who left the band in a huff in 1978 and died last year of bile-duct cancer at age 62.

“We were brothers,” he said of the band. That is, until Marky crashed his Cadillac through the window of a Brooklyn furniture store while in a drunken blackout and was booted from the group in 1982. After a stint in rehab, he was welcomed back five years later.

The Ramones weren’t related. Each adopted the surname Ramone. And Marky deftly trashed each so-called family member.

Lead singer Joey Ramone (Jeffrey Hyman) bore a scar on his back where an undeveloped conjoined twin was removed. The book says Joey rarely bathed and suffered from a crippling case of obsessive-compulsive disorder, which made him repeatedly touch objects and walk up and down staircases, over and over. He died in 2001 of lymphoma at age 49.

Drug-loving shower freak Dee Dee Ramone (Glen Colvin), the bass player, was described in the book as ballooning into an overweight bulimic. He died of a heroin overdose in 2002 at age 50.

But guitarist Johnny Ramone (John Cummings) received the worst of Marky’s wrath.

Johnny was a racist and anti-Semite who lobbed ethnic slurs and called Joey and tour manager Monte Melnick, who, along with Tommy, were Jewish, “rabbis,” the book says. But Marky conceded Joey might have been teasing. Marky and fellow lefty Joey were incensed by Johnny’s reverence for Republican presidents — he thought that Ronald Reagan was the greatest and that liberals unfairly forced Richard Nixon from office.

During the Ramones’ 2002 induction ceremony into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Johnny proclaimed, “God bless America, and God bless President Bush.’’ Marky deemed the Bush part “inappropriate’’ — but admitted he thought the remark was “funny.”

“I don’t think most conservatives would like the music,” said Marky, who lives in Brooklyn Heights with Marion Flynn, 54, his wife of 30 years. So I said I was a political conservative — and a die-hard Ramones fan. I told him that I wished Johnny were still alive and able to defend himself.


The Ramones disbanded in 1996. Over the last 15 years, Marky has seen the band enjoy commercial success that long eluded it, and he’s milking it — with his book, with his band, Punk Rock Blitzkrieg, which plays Ramones songs, and with a show of the same name that he hosts on SirusXM Satellite Radio.

At any sporting event today, you’ll likely hear the Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop” blared over the sound system with its peppy refrain, “Hey, ho! Let’s go!” a sign of new-found mainstream appeal.

But rather than suffering from survivor’s guilt, Marky Ramone said, “I’m grateful to be alive.” His national book tour hits Manhattan this coming weekend with a Blitzkrieg concert and party.

“If you’re not doing anything Saturday, why don’t you come to the Gramercy Theatre? I’ll be signing books.”

That would make a conservative too sad.

©2007-2021 Andrea Peyser and andreapeyser.com; No Reuse without permission.
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