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Marky Ramone: Punk Rock Blitzkrieg

The drummerman inside view of the making and breaking of a rock’n’roll legend.

As a preteen, the man aka Marc Bell learned to sniff glue while piecing together model train sets. Aged 10 he already had a neighbourhood reputation for bloodying up the other kids’ heads.

Perfect training to take up the drum seat with Da Brudders? Perhaps. But, as this voluminous memoir relates, the future Marky Ramone had an eventful career before and after the Ramones.

Punk Rock Blitzkrieg is shot through with choice incident and detail outside of the dysfunctional main event. There’s a paralytic John Lennon bar-crawling Wayne County at gay club hangout Club 82; a frisky Andrew Oldham who tries to involve Marky in a threesome; and several sessions with an in-his-cups and, at the close, on-trial Phil Spector.

Marky’s memories of the soap averse, OCD-afflicted Joey, drug fiend Dee Dee and the unpleasantly parsimonious right-winger Johnny are unvarnished, tinged with sadness yet generously even-handed. Understandably so – with his stage brothers now all gone, Marky is left to tend and uphold a mighty legacy.

That legacy was one produced by a band constantly at war with each other, Johnny refusing to the bitter end to make peace with Joey, even as he lay on his deathbed. The book’s no-holds-barred approach and straightforward delivery is faithful to its central subject: preserving the musical glory (and inner turmoil) of a great rock’n’roll band for posterity.

Late NME, Daily Mirror and Classic Rock writer Gavin Martin started writing about music in 1977 when he published his hand-written fanzine Alternative Ulster in Belfast. He moved to London in 1980 to become the NME’s Media Editor and features writer, where he interviewed the Sex Pistols, Joe Strummer, Pete Townshend, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Ian Dury, Killing Joke, Neil Young, REM, Sting, Marvin Gaye, Leonard Cohen, Nina Simone, James Brown, Willie Nelson, Willie Dixon, Madonna and a host of others. He was also published in The Times, Guardian, Independent, Loaded, GQ and Uncut, he had pieces on Michael Jackson, Van Morrison and Frank Sinatra featured in The Faber Book Of Pop and Rock ’N’ Roll Is Here To Stay, and was the Daily Mirror’s regular music critic from 2001. He died in 2022.