Today, I just finished reading the rock memoir, “Commando”, by Johnny Ramone. He was the rhythm guitarist for the punk rock band, The Ramones. I must say that this is one of my favorite rock memoirs I’ve ever read. Johnny Ramone himself, really wrote this book himself before his death. He definitely did not have a ghost writer ’cause when you read this book it makes you feel like he’s actually talking to you.
This is also the most honest rock memoir I’ve ever read. Most rock memoirs would focus on the sex, drugs & music. Well, this book strictly focuses on the music. The book starts off from the day he was born and goes all the way up to his death.
Johnny was a true punk. He knew what punk was all about and he will tell everything about living the punk lifestyle. Part of being a punk is being angry and having a short temper, all the time. Having the not give a fuck attitude. Johnny was really honest in this book. He won’t be afraid to tell you what was good or what was bad. He will also tell you who he got along with and who he didn’t get along with.
If you think Johnny and Joey Ramone were best friends, think again! Johnny said in the book, that he and Joey hated each other guts. They never got along at all. It was Dee Dee, the bass player, who Johnny got along with the most than everyone.
Johnny also wrote in the book that he never intended to be in a rock n’ roll band to begin with. He was going to focus on being a construction worker and just live a normal life. Other people begged him to become a rocker, so he picked up the guitar, learned to play and formed the Ramones.
Johnny talked about how he wanted the band to be at their best ever, and he wanted to have success. He talked about how the Ramones struggled at first by playing a bunch of shows at CBGB’s in NYC (the club where the Ramones first got their start). Did you think Johnny and Debra Harry of Blondie got along? They didn’t get along at first but they became friends later. Johnny was never the one to become friends with other musicians. He wanted to be friends with normal people. Until the Ramones got even more famous later on, Johnny started becoming friends with other famous musicians such as Eddie Vedder, Chris Cornell, Lisa Marie Presley, Kirk Hammett, etc.
When you see Ramones concerts, do you ever wonder why their sets are always so short and why their songs are so short? It’s because Johnny wanted it that way. He never liked long songs and he didn’t care for guitar solos, even if he did think that Jimi Hendrix was one of his favorite musicians.
Of course, toward the end of this book, when it got to the cancer stuff, that’s when the book got really sad. The book is full of rare and never before seen photos, and all kinds of things. It’s a short book. So it’s an easy & quick read. It only took a couple of days to read.
I’m a pretty big Ramones fan. I don’t own any of their music but I’m going to start collecting their stuff soon, but I have been listening to them for years, though. Heard their stuff on the radio, and listen to them in youtube. While I still think the Clash is my no. 1 favorite punk band, the Ramones would have to be my 2nd favorite. They were an incredible band and it’s a shame that most of the members died.
This book is recommended for all music lovers or Ramones fans. This book will help make you understand them better. They may have been underrated back then, but they are greatly appreciated now!