Commando – The Autobiography of Johnny Ramone

June 8, 2012

Commando - The Autobiography of Johnny RamoneIt’s been nearly 40 years since The Ramones met and jammed for the first time in New York City and almost 8 years since founding member and highly influential guitarist Johnny Ramone succumbed to cancer; in that time many books have been written on their music and legend, but none from the guitarist himself until now. The Final word is here in Commando.

If you were somewhat familiar with The Ramones from the numerous books or documentaries released in the last few years then you probably know that the band had a strict leader much like an army does; their leader was Johnny and he lead the band like commando’s into war.

Johnny was responsible for so much of the bands success and kept The Ramones in line over the years and is likely the reason The Ramones had such a lengthy career (14 albums and 2,263 shows played) where most bands from their era crashed and burned much sooner. It’s about time that one of rocks most important figures has a book to shed light on his part in music history, best of all a book written by the man himself. Many pieces were also put together by colleagues from other important bands or members of The Ramones inner circle and family.

Commando is not the average rock bio filled with hundreds of pages and few photos’, in fact it’s quite the opposite with only 200 pages or so and rarer behind the scenes photos than a family album. Like you’d expect the book traces back to Johnny’s childhood in Queens New York where he reveals his love for baseball, republican run America, hard work ethics and even his bizarre tale of throwing rocks at The Beatles during their prolific concert at Shea Stadium in 1965. Who else can say they’ve done that in their lifetime, likely only Johnny Ramone!

Details of Johnny’s first marriage, first guitar and first time meeting his fellow Ramones are also discussed in great detail. The touchy subject of falling in love with Joeys ex girlfriend Linda is also a whole other story that is finally revealed in full and explains why relations in the band were so strained from that point on. There are tons of personal stories shared within these pages that really show The Ramones in a light that most fans may be shocked to discover. There is always more to a bands legacy than what is shown on the surface and Commando is a full on tell all in that respect.

Conflict in the recording studio and on tour make for interesting chapters that add insight to perhaps your favorite albums or songs and help the reader understand how insane life was in The Ramones. The book is put together in an easy to read for all age’s style with its cardboard layout and story book like feel. Johnny shares his favorites list so fans can understand why some albums in the Ramones back catalog are his favorite while others are sub par.

Sadly as the book draws towards an end you can sincerely feel the pain Johnny suffered as his uphill battle against cancer slowly eats away at his health and well being. (I shed a tear myself as I reached that particular part of the book) Though when the book finally reaches its last page you can’t help but feel a certain respect for Johnny in more ways than one. Though he is no longer with us you will likely find your self smiling having enjoyed Commando with all it has to offer as it really is the final say on how amazing a life Johnny lead from his humble American beginnings to his tragic death here in Los Angeles in 2004.

The photos alone are proof enough that Johnny lived life to the fullest and shared his time with some amazing people who have truly left their mark on the world and have made it a better place, you’ll see what I’m talking about once you pick up your own copy of Commando which is highly recommended by us here at Bigwheel.

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-Louie Bones-
Big Wheel Staff Journalist


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