Johnny Ramone is one of my all-time guitar heroes. I aspire to play Ramones songs as expertly as him (seriously - nobody wants to hear my excruciatingly slow version of Do You Wanna Dance). But when I heard of this posthumous autobiography, I realised I knew nothing about him as a person. It turned out to be a rather interesting and illuminating read.
Turns out, yeah, he was a hard nut. But a lot of that was necessary. Without Johnny being the tough guy the other band members tended to flake out a bit. What disillusioned me a little at first was learning he viewed the Ramones as a business. Of course the art of making awesome music was incredibly important to him, but he also wanted them to be successful. The more I read though, the less I cared about that. If he hadn’t pushed everyone along they may not have become the great, influential band that fans know and love. What it really came down to was a strong work ethic and an idealistic goal to be the best.
The constant theme in this book is his brutal honesty. It seems partly because he was a straight-talking guy, and also maybe because he knew he was dying and therefore just didn’t care what anyone thought? Whatever. He seemed like a guy who cherished his loved ones, and was truly cool to the fans. And that’s pretty awesome.
Gabba gabba hey!
Title: Commando: The Autobiography of Johnny Ramone
Author: Johnny Ramone
Publisher: Abrams Image
- Aimee, Howick Library