Drummer Marky Ramone will release his memoir, Punk Rock Blitzkrieg: My Life as a Ramone, on January 13 via Simon & Schuster.
Marc Bell was a heavy rock veteran before he joined The Ramones in 1978: he was a member of pioneering American metal outfit Dust, auditioned for the New York Dolls following the death of Billy Murcia in late 1972, and went on to play with rock’s first transsexual singer, Wayne Country And The Backstreet Boys, and influential punk band Richard Hell & The Voidoids.
The memoir traces Bell’s history – from growing up in Brooklyn to making music, teaming up with The Ramones, getting fired from the band as he battled alcoholism, his road to recovery and subsequent return to the punk icons, with whom he would play 1700 shows before the group retired in 1996.
Marky tells Classic Rock Revisited: “The book goes through the whole gamut of my life. It is not just about the Ramones. I talk about being with Richard Hell and the Voidoids and when we toured with The Clash in ’77. I got the firsthand look at how the punk scene was evolving there for four and a half weeks on that tour. This book is very comprehensive.”
Marky replaced Tommy Ramone, who produced several of the band’s seminal albums. The drummer says he brought a new heaviness to his first Ramones project, 1978’s Road To Ruin, the band’s fourth release.
He explains: “I had to. Why? Because they already did their three-chord wonder albums, the first one, Leave Home and Rocket To Russia. They needed to advance a little more. They needed to sound heavier, not just punk heavy, but rock heavy. In the end that’s what it’s all about.”
“You have to understand at that time there was a lot of competition. Van Halen was out, and while it was a different kind of music, the drumming was heavy. There was The Clash from England and that drumming was heavy. I felt I had to tighten the drums a little more than Tommy – especially the snare drum. I wanted to make it tighter and more kick ass.”
Marky says the competitive spirit of the punk scene often saw other bands look down their noses at The Ramones…while others praised them as the pioneers of the genre.
He says: “A lot of them thought we were just like a pop/punk rock band. When you listen to that first album then that says it all. The Clash, The Sex Pistols, The Buzzcocks, Joan Jett, Green Day, The Offspring…even Motorhead says that is the first punk album. The Pistols told their producer they wanted to sound like the first Ramones album. The Clash would count 1/2/3/4 between songs.”
“Look, the English got great bands, there is no denying that, but they definitely copied us. For instance, you had Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Elvis and all of these greats. Who copied them? The Beatles. Here you had the punk scene at CBGB’s when it started in ’74. There was no punk scene in ’74. What they were doing was observing what we were doing. A year, to a year and a half down the road, they all formed their own bands.”
Mark sums up the essence of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame band: “I honestly think that the Ramones appeal to youth. It is the energy that we projected on record and when we played live. There is a whole new generation out there that wants to hear and wants to see a band that is real, with no samples, no tapes and nothing computerized. That is what the Ramones were all about.”
Martin Scorsese will direct a biopic on The Ramones, which is expected to surface in 2016 – the 40th anniversary of band’s self-titled debut album.