A couple of books I recently read.
Back in the day, I was in a punk band. We weren’t very good, but we had fun. In between those fun times, there was in-fighting for creative control. I wanted more, the lead singer didn’t want to give it up. These things happen in a band. For us, it was minor, but I knew I’d never get my way in the band and I chose to leave.
Is this in any way like Dee Dee Ramone leaving the Ramones? Oh, hell no. Not even close. First of all, we weren’t anywhere close to being successful and likely would never be successful. It wasn’t in the cards for us.
For Dee Dee and Johnny, they were destined for worse. Sure, they had success and fame to go along with playing in a band, but there was always control issues with all 4 members of the band. Combined with heavy drug and alcohol abuse by all of them, it wasn’t anything destined to last.
It’s interesting reading both of these books and seeing the tone each of them takes. With Johnny’s book, Commando, you can feel the control issues. The anger. The passion he felt for the music and the complete desire to put up with anyone else’s BS.
From Dee Dee’s book, you can feel the anger of a person denied his childhood and wanting to find a way to express himself. The passion he put into his writing of songs and music both on guitar and bass. Where he brought the passion for music, Johnny brought the drive for success.
It’s also telling reading both books that this band wasn’t a tight-knit group that liked to go out and party and do their thing like you might read about some bands doing. They all very much did their own thing until it was time to record or go on stage. They were successful despite the fact they all hated touring, hated dealing with fans, hated dealing with others in the industry. All they wanted to do was escape reality and that’s where they all fell to heavy drug and alcohol usage.
These books don’t have happy endings. If you pick them up, don’t expect an uplifting story of how they struggled for success and finding it, were suddenly better off. Money only creates new problems for all of them that carried throughout their lives. Each book is a difficult read for that alone. Their lack of education doesn’t make the books any less compelling.
I would only recommend these books if you’re a big fan of the Ramones and you’d like to find about them. Other than that, these are depressing trips into the minds of people that succeeded when all the odds were against them, and then still couldn’t find a better reason for their lives.
If you’re looking for a book like that, check out Duff McKagan’s book, It’s So Easy. He had similar lows in his life, but found his way out. A far more elegant read.
All the links are below.
Until Next Time!
Stay Awesome! (and don’t do drugs!)