Marky Ramone Pays Tribute
By Rick Coates 10/26/09
Drummer Marky Ramone is the last living member of the final and essentially defining line-up of The Ramones, the band credited with starting the American punk rock movement. He is paying tribute to his musical brothers with his new band, Marky Ramones Blitzkrieg, performing Halloween night at the Soaring Eagle Casino in Mt. Pleasant.
After the Ramones decided to call it quits in 1996 I started a couple of bands, The Intruders and The Speedkings, and a couple of others. We performed a mix of originals and Ramones classics, said Ramone. So now I am back out with my new band Blitzkrieg playing these Ramones songs because I really felt that they were too good not to be played anymore.
He is quick to add that this is not the Ramones.
I am about honoring the band and paying respect to the music. This is not the Ramones-- I would never call it that -- this is a tribute, said Ramone. There are so many fans out there that have asked me to keep the music going and there is now a whole new generation of fans into the music.
The Ramones, despite their lack of mainstream success, are ranked among the greatest rock and roll bands of all time. Rolling Stone magazine ranks them 26 on their list of Immortals -- the all-time greatest in rock history. Spin magazine ranks them right behind The Beatles as the second greatest band of all time. In 2002 they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Amazing accomplishments for a band that only had one album reach gold (500,000 copies), their 1994 compilation Ramones Mania. They never had a song crack the Top 40; their 1980 release End of a Century was their best showing on the Billboard Top 200 Charts, climbing to 44 behind songs Rock and Roll High School (from the soundtrack of the movie and re-recorded for the album) and Do You Remember Rock n Roll Radio? Neither song cracked the Top 100 on the singles chart. Only their 1977 release, Rockaway Beach reached #66 on the Billboard singles charts -- the highest charting single in the bands history.
Marky Ramone just chuckles at the lack of success when it comes to record sales.
We might be number one in merchandise sales though; there is Ramones everything, from lunch boxes to dog blankets and everything in between, said Ramone.
Marky Ramone has even lent his name on condoms. The rocker attached his name to a line of condoms earlier this year called Ready Two Go.
Ramone believes the bands success stems from their time on the road. In their 22 years they performed 2,300 concerts and Marky Ramone was behind the drums for 1,800 of those shows.
We built a following by being on the road, said Ramone. If I was granted three wishes it be that Joey, Dee Dee and Johnny were alive and up there on stage playing with me. I go out every night, not for the money or the fame but for the memories.
Apparently the fans are out for capturing the memories as well. When Marky Ramone went to Mexico last year the fans went so crazy the show had to be cancelled. He returned with Blitzkrieg this past June and 20,000 fans (under control this time) came out to hear them perform what Ramone considers to be the bands best 30 songs. He remembers the first song he played with the band.
I was asked to join them in 1978 and the group was still trying to find their way, said Ramone. My first song with them was I Wanna Be Sedated. I was in Richard Hells Voidoids band at the time.
Marky Ramone replaced original drummer Tommy Ramone.
Actually Joey started out on drums and Tommy was the manager and producer of the band. He ended up taking over on drums because no one else wanted too, said Ramone. After I joined he continued to produce the band. He was with us when we were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Today he has a bluegrass duo, Uncle Monk.
While not related (all members took on the Ramone moniker when they joined the band), they fought like brothers at times.
We had our share of disagreements. But the media over-exaggerated our dislike for one another. If we hated each other as much as they reported we would have never lasted 22 years. Plus, even after we called it quits we got together to help each other with solo projects, said Ramone. We respected each other, disagreed on everything from music to politics.
Yes, Joey and I were the liberal Democrats in the band; Dee Dee and Johnny were the Reagan/Bush guys, said Ramone. It made the band interesting and we found ourselves doing fundraisers as individuals, not as a band. We were individuals who may not have agreed politically, but that just made the dynamic of the band better on stage when we made music.
One thing the band did agree upon was that Marky had a drinking problem; they threw him out of the band in 1983.
Of course I didnt think I had a problem, but I did, said Ramone. After a couple of years of rehab they asked me to rejoin and I did and I was with them the last 10 years. I remained friends with everyone after we called it quits. Dee Dee and his wife asked me to be in their band, the Remainz, which was essentially a Ramones cover band. Joey had me join him on his solo album just before he passed.
Speaking of passing on, it must have been somewhat scary for you after the other three passed away just a couple years apart from one another.
I was scared, I was wondering if there was some sort of curse and thought maybe I better drop the Ramone name, said Ramone. But this band is not cursed and I am left to carry on its music and that is what I plan to do anytime and anywhere.
That next anytime and anywhere, is October 31 at the Soaring Eagle Casino in Mt. Pleasant. Marky Ramones Blitzkrieg comes prepared to perform 30 of the greatest Ramones songs of all time. To purchase tickets check out soaringeaglecasino.com or call the box office at 1-800-585-3737. Marky Ramone will join Rick Coates on his weekly radio appearance on the Omelette & Finster Morning Show on KLT (97.5 fm or 98.9 FM this Friday at 9 am.