- - Sunday, September 20, 2015

One, two, three, four!

So went the battle cry of American punk rock pioneers The Ramones. Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy changed the face of music forever with their aggressive and powerful songs. Four years into the life of the band, Tommy Ramone decided to move behind the scenes, leaving the drum seat open. Upon Tommy’s recommendation, the band met with veteran New York City stickman Marc Bell, who had played with Wayne Country, Richard Hell and Dust.

And just like that, Marc Bell became Marky Ramone.

As an active member of the band for 15 years — 1978 thru 1983, and 1987 through the farewell tour in 1996 — Marky Ramone helped create some of the band’s most memorable songs, including “Pet Cemetery,” “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School” and “I Wanna Be Sedated.” When The Ramones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002, Marky Ramone was the only nonoriginal Ramone to be welcomed in.

Mr. Ramone discussed his long-overdue biography “Punk Rock Blitzkrieg: My Life as a Ramone,” his SiriusXM radio show and what it’s like to be a living legend.

Question: Why did you decide to write your biography?

Answer: Being in the band ten years, having played 1,700 shows, I felt that it was my story to tell.

Q: When you sat down and looked back on your life, did you discover anything that surprised you?

A: Yeah, I can’t believe I’m still alive. [laughs]

Q: Why do you think you’re still here?

A: I have no idea. I wish I knew. If I had three wishes they (Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy) would all be back. I never smoked cigarettes. I never did hard drugs. I did have a drinking problem for a while, but I stopped at an early age. I’m just grateful to be alive.

Q: How did you end up in The Ramones?

A: Tommy just didn’t want to play anymore. He was in the band three and a half years, and he told Dee Dee that if he saw me at CBGB to ask me if I would join. We set up a rehearsal. I did few songs, and that was it.

Q: Do you have a favorite Ramones album or song?

A: “Rocket to Russia.” “Road to Ruin.” I loved “Pleasant Dreams.” I hated “Subterranean Jungle.” My favorite song is “I Wanna Be Sedated” because that’s the first song I ever recorded.

Q: Was drinking the reason you left the band in ‘83?

A: Oh yeah. I didn’t drink every day, but when I did I had a lot of fun. [laughs] But it had to stop because at some point I didn’t like it anymore. When the band told me to leave, that was the best thing that ever happened to me because if they didn’t, I could have been dead.

Q: What brought you back four years later?

A: Richie Reinhardt, who was only in the band four years, deserted the group. You don’t do that when a band has a tour set up. If you want to negotiate, there are ways to do it maturely. They had 17 shows set up. They called Clem Burke up from Blondie. But he’s not right for The Ramones; he’s great in Blondie.

Then they called me, and we made amends.

Q: I used to listen to you and Joey fight on “The Howard Stern Show.” Did you guys hate each other?

A: No. A lot of that was goofball stuff. We knew it would turn Howard on. We devised certain things to do to create stories and get Howard. Joey and Johnny didn’t get along too well. That’s unfortunate. But like a lot of businesses, bands and brothers, a lot of people don’t get along.

Q: What was the farewell tour like for you?

A: Me, Joey and Johnny, we sat down in our hotel room in ‘94 and had a discussion about when we wanted to retire, which [would be in] ‘96. But we had to do two more years of touring, because there is never just one last show. It was the perfect time to end it.

Q: What did it mean to you to be inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

A: We never expected that in a million years. When we got the call, we were grateful because we were representing our genre of music, which was overlooked a lot of times before that. We were very grateful.

Q: What do you think Joey, Johnny, Tommy and Dee Dee would have thought of your book?

A: That it’s the most comprehensive one. That they couldn’t deny or argue about all the facts in that book. Everything in there is what happened. I treated everyone equally. Including myself [laughs]. I think they would have asked, “How the hell did you remember all this?”

Q: How did your SiriusXM radio show come about?

A: They had heard me as a guest on a show on Sirius. They liked my look, liked my voice, and the next thing I knew, I had a show.

I wanted to play what I want. Someone likes it because it’s been 10 years already.

Q: You’re also on the road with Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg. Who’s in the band?

A: I’ve got Andrew W.K. on vocals. He knows how to engage an audience. He’s not a Joey clone. I made sure the guitar and bass are exact, but I didn’t want the vocals to be a copy.

Marky Ramone’s “Punk Rock Blitzkrieg: My Life as a Ramone,” is available now.

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