Johnny Ramone

Commando: The Autobiography of Johnny Ramone

Published by Abrams Image

Jul 16, 2012 Issue #41 - Yeasayer Bookmark and Share

John Cummings, aka Johnny Ramone, was the brains behind the operation of The Ramones. To hear him tell it in his posthumous autobiography, he crafted the band's image, molded the band's sound, and handled its business affairs. Because of this, one expects a lot from Commando. The book, however, is largely disappointing. Ramone tells his story in a matter-of-fact voice, from his youth as a delinquent through his famed career in punk. Nothing is explored in much depth and often Ramone comes across as whiny and complaining. He did not like his band members, especially lead singer Joey. He hated traveling. He didn't care for the other bands with whom he played. He talks more about money, and his ultimate goal of earning a million dollars, than he does about art or ethos. He is stereotypical and insulting, at times both (e.g., referring to The Runaways as "a band of dykes"). The book ends with an album-by-album assessment and a series of odd lists, like "Best Ballplayers of the Eighties" and "Favorite Republicans." But of all the off-putting elements of Commando, one thing is clear. Johnny Ramone was the architect of The Ramones, and for that, he'll always be remembered. (

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