I mentioned the other day I was heading to The Bell House to catch Marky Ramone’s band Blitzkrieg. Outside was a food truck with a prominent display of MARKY RAMONE’S MARINARA PASTA SAUCE. Inside, a mixed bag of oldies but goodies mixed with the hip kids with hoodies. The band was banging one Ramones hit after another with a trademark 1-2-3-4. letting you know that one track had ended and another had begun. Mark. the last of the Ramones as I know it, was slamming his drums while his bandmates did their own thing rather than imitations of the departed Joey, Dee Dee, and Johnny. Looking up at the stage made me sad. My brain wandered back in time to some show somewhere with all of them leaping and posing and punk rock and rolling into a frenzy. Although I was happy to see this as live as it’s going to get, it made me pine for my punk past. Backstage, I quipped with Marky (whose real name is Mark Bell) if it was a "coincidence that they were playing The Bell House. "Right," he answered. "My friends think I bought the place."
Marky’s off to Europe and Asia where huge crowds will gather to get a taste of legend. Tommy Ramone was the original drummer and did the first couple of albums, but then gave way to Marky who, by all accounts, is one of the best drummers out there. It was Marky who did most of the touring, providing a steady beat behind the mayhem of bass player Dee Dee and guitar hero Johnny. Joey’s deep vocals and uncanny timing are not evident in the current shows. Blitzkrieg’s lead singer Michale Graves’ higher-pitched voice and twirling angry punk bad boy act is in sharp contrast to my memories of Joey’s steady lean-on-the-mic approach. It wouldn’t have been right for Michael to do Joey. Michael had to do it his way and that’s ok by me.
There has been some controversy regarding a book called Commando: The Autobiography of Johnny Ramone
. I saw an interview with Johnny’s widow Linda who I never had beef with although I never much respected either. In this interview, she discounts Marky’s role in what has to be described as disgraceful revisionist history. I haven’t read the "autobiography," but I am wary of the content. As I remember it, Linda was banned from the shows for a while when it was found out that she had cheated on her then-boyfriend Joey to carry on an affair with Johnny who she eventually married. Although that bothered many, it never bothered me because love takes us all on strange journeys and she was there with him to the tragic end. My beef now was her calling Tommy the true drummer of the band and refering to all the other Ramones, including Marky, as basically hired guns. I have no beef with Tommy either. In the 15 or so years I hung out with the band, I only met him twice and I’m sure he doesn’t remember our quick hellos. Linda’s memory and perspective are different than mine. I, after all, wasn’t fucking or fucking over half the band. My memory, backed up by Wikipedia and some other sources, has Tommy quitting the band in 1978 and Marky taking over.
"Marky was with the Ramones for the next five years. He was asked to leave the band in 1983 to conquer his periodic drinking. He returned in 1987 and played with the band up until their retirement in 1996."
That’s the bulk of Ramone’s career and it seems difficult to deny that. Another bit from Wiki:
"In October 2001, Marky appeared on MTV accepting a lifetime achievement award presented by Bono of U2 to the Ramones. Marky Ramone’s hand prints are on the Hollywood Rock Walk. In March 2002, Marky was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, at New York’s Waldorf Astoria
as a member of the Ramones."
Whoever’s good enough for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is good enough for me. The politics that plagued the Ramones in life haunts them to this day. Marky continues to write Ramones history with Blitzkrieg while it seems others may be attempting to rewrite history for their own purposes. I, of course, loved Johnny and look forward to reading his book.
I exchanged questions with Marky as he was heading off to tour but didn’t ask him about the book -that can wait.
The Brooklyn show brings you back home… You and your brother Freddie were raised in Brooklyn. Will lifelong friends be on hand, or has the road taken you far away from all that?
Don"t think the road has taken me away from childhood friends. Life goes on, and luckily you make new friends. I did see a few people last night from school/ the old neighborhood, but they were just acquaintances. I run into more old friends when I play on the West Coast!
What’s up with your not-so-secret sauce?
All these years, while going overseas, the local promoters always take the band out to eat in the best place of wherever you happen to be. Whether it’s sushi in Japan, steak in Argentina, pasta in Italy, I have become what’s now called a "foodie." My grandfather was also a chef in NYC at the 21 and the Copacabana
, and when I was a kid, on Sundays we would cook for the family. learned how to make tomato sauce for spaghetti as a cheap and filling meal when I was a teenager just starting out in the business. A couple of years ago, Tony Bourdain
asked me to be on his show No Reservations,
and then I meet Daniel Boulud
; both encouraged me to get into the food business. I always admired Paul Newman’s product line, so I figured why not? Now I also have a gelato in over 100 countries called "Marky Ramone’s Cookies,"
cause it’s got chunks of chocolate cookies crunched up in the gelato. Both products support various charities.
When are we going to DJ together again?
Would love to DJ with ya…I love to hear good music on a great loud sound system. It’s always a fun night for me.
What is the Ramones legacy?
The Ramones legacy is that we always knew the show/music was the best. And that time proves we were right.
What are you going to be when you grow up?
Luckily for me, I have always earned my living "playing," so thankfully I don’t have to grow up!! In fact, I have to leave for the airport now to go play in Greece, Hong Kong, Vientnam, China, and a few other places I will think about when I get there…..
My own personal rock and roll revival has me heading tonight to Hellbent Tuesdays at Ace Bar
to visit my dear friend Jamie Lynn and to hear music by DJs Ian El Dorado and Marty E. Thursday, before I head off to join Sam Valentine
and Michael Tee, and DJ my version of rock classics and the "danuchit" at Hotel Chantelle
, I will head to the Tribeca Grand Hotel
. There, another happening centered around yet another dead rock star will tempt me.
The Morrison Hotel (gosh there’s a lot of "hotels" involved with rock) and Grandlife present Jesse Frohman: Kurt Cobain exhibition after party. The Virgins are performing and Sailor Jerry Rum will sponsor delicious cocktails. Music will be provided by Jarvis Cocker (PULP), Jason Buckle (Relaxed Muscle), Mike Nouveau and Tennessee Thomas.