Copyright 2012 -> for everything in this page by , Ron Bennington, The Interrobang, Tommy Ramone, Linda Cummings (Linda Ramone) and Jari-Pekka Laitio-Ramone.

This interview with Tommy Ramone and Johnny Ramone's wife Linda Cummings' (Linda Ramone) tells background of book
Commando: The Autobiography Of Johnny Ramone (see details here).
I want this interview to be archived and it is reason why interview is also here. Otherwise interview would get lost from Internet later.
Interview with Tommy Ramone and Linda Cummings' (Linda Ramone) is by Ron Bennington (The Interrobang) on April 1, 2012.


1) Commando: The Autobiography Of Johnny Ramone is the first and only truly autobiographical work written by Johnny Ramone.
2) USA: Commando: The Autobiography Of Johnny Ramone was released on April 2nd, 2012 from Abrams Image. Order Commando: The Autobiography of Johnny Ramone
3) E-book will be available on Kindle, iPad, Nook, Kobo and Sony Reader.
4) Rights of the book have been pre-sold in four different languages throughout Europe and Brazil with more soon to be announced.
5) Commando: The Autobiography Of Johnny Ramone includes a foreward written by sole surviving founding member, drummer, Tommy Ramone, and an epilogue written by Johnny's close friend (and daughter to the King), Lisa Marie Presley.


Ron Bennington: First of all, right off Linda, when did this book get written?
Linda Ramone: Johnny wrote it while he was dying. So it’s been…eight years ago Johnny died. And I always had it on the back burner, but it was never the right time. I had too many other things to do with Ramones stuff and Johnny had a statue unveiling in Hollywood Forever, so I started doing tributes every year for him. And I just waited for the right time to get all the photos and everything together. But the interviews were always there. You know throughout Johnny’s life, he always collected memorabilia and so we got it all together. He always had his black books. So even before he was in the Ramones, he would write where he would go, what he would do, what concert he would see. He kept all his ticket stubs. Went through all that stuff, went all his black books. He marked down every Ramones show he played, from the first show to the last show, the attendance and where it was and how much they got paid.

Ron Bennington: And this took place throughout his entire life. So you’ve got all this stuff.
Linda Ramone: All that stuff and you know what? For the first couple years after Johnny died, it’s really…you know, listening to the tapes, Johnny was sick. It was hard, but it’s a great time right now for Johnny’s book because The Ramones are so much more popular too and they got a Grammy lifetime achievement award. It’s just so much going on for The Ramones and so much going on for Johnny, I just thought this is a great time right now.

Ron Bennington: We brought up the fact that the Ramones are more popular than ever. Tommy, what is that like for you after the way that this band struggled for so long to get recognition, that here they are an iconic band now?
Tommy Ramone: Yeah. It’s a really strange situation. Yeah. It took like 35 years, but it’s wonderful that it’s happened. It’s a bit surrealistic because they keep getting bigger and bigger. And I mean we worked so hard and we knew what we were doing was really good. But it wasn’t happening right away. It was kind of strange. It becomes kind of weird, you almost forget about it. And then boom, all of a sudden it hits. And then the turn of the century, all of sudden things started happening.

Ron Bennington: One of the amazing things is too is how many radio friendly songs that the Ramones wrote and radio didn’t recognize it at the time, but now kids starting bands want to start off with these songs.
Linda Ramone: Well because the Ramones were way ahead of their time. And that’s what happened.

Ron Bennington: Yeah. Now you knew this at the time. Did it always feel that way to you Linda?
Linda Ramone: Well yeah, I mean Johnny’s going “Well, I can’t play Jeff Beck riffs. And I don’t want to.” So he decides to his own style, his own sound and it influences millions of guitar players, pick up the guitar and go out and play. So the Ramones are telling everybody hey, you can be who you want to be, just go out there and do that. So yeah, that’s the greatest thing kids can do and that’s why they were so influential and one of the best bands of all time and started a punk movement.

Ron Bennington: The way Johnny played, from that point on was the Ramones sound.
Tommy Ramone: It’s a little more complex than that. Johnny always played like that. A combination of his own energy and sort of a little bit of David Bowie riffs, a little bit of other riffs he picked up, but basically it was his own style. It was when I started playing drums because before, originally Joey was the drummer. But Joey had a very choppy style, a very choppy drum style, which really didn’t go with Johnny’s guitar playing. So when I started playing drums, somehow it locked in and became sort of like a machine. And that’s how we got that flowing sound, that kind of driving flowing sound. But Johnny’s guitar playing was totally unique, totally original. It came out of just his own sensibilities and just his energy, his anger, his frustrations. It was like a seething fire coming out of his amplifier.

Ron Bennington: He was a real New York guy. One of the things I love about the book and it’s a real easy read, is he’s not easy on himself either. He knows that he can be a pain in the ass. He knows that he’s difficult to get along with, but he’s also very comfortable and this is exactly who I am.
Linda Ramone: You pick up the book, you put it down, you know who Johnny Ramone is. That’s it. From beginning to end. The book reads like a Ramones song. Fast, to the point, boom. And that’s it. And it’s a great read for anybody because here you have someone who, you know he’s small, he’s Irish, he’s Catholic, he’s poor. And he grows up to be a legendary guitar player. How does that happen? Johnny thinks hard work. Hard work and saving.

Ron Bennington: And he was a conservative guy all the way through this. He was a real pro-American guy. And a lot of people don’t equate that with punk music, but here it was right from day one with him. Right from day one.
Linda Ramone: Johnny’s a leader, not a follower.

Ron Bennington: When he was writing this book, obviously you said he was dying at the time. How important was it for him to say I need to set the record straight? Is that where this came from? A point to set the record straight?
Linda Ramone: Yeah and I think there’s people who misunderstood him. He didn’t care whether you liked him or not. He was going to say what he felt. And that’s what he did. So he put it out there. So the book reads very Johnny. And the photos and just everything about it, even having his collection in the book. He rates the Ramones records. (starts to laugh) I mean you know? The last couple of records, he thinks they’re pretty not-so-good. The first 3 albums are the most important albums. Gives “Rocket to Russia” A+. So just everything he did, he just always loved to rate everything.

Ron Bennington: Well Joey and Johnny of course had their differences and a very big part of their differences was you and who you were going to be with.
Linda Ramone: Yeah, that was true.

Ron Bennington: You were somewhat of the Anita Pallenberg of this band, but at least not the Yoko. (Linda Ramone laughs)
Linda Ramone: Yes. I definitely wasn’t the Yoko because Johnny and Joey stayed together from beginning to end and there’d be no Ramones. Yes, that is true. And that did happen. I dated Joey. I was 18. I left Joey by, I was 21 and I married Johnny and stayed with Johnny for over 20 years. So obviously me and Johnny were meant to be together. And when you’re 18, I don’t really think you know what you’re doing. I left Joey, I didn’t know it would be this big impact. All of sudden one day, I came home and Johnny is like now this is it, we’re gonna move on and I’m like alright. And I leave Joey and Joey’s like Johnny fell in love with you. And that’s what happened.

Ron Bennington: So you had already left Joey.
Linda Ramone: I left Joey because everyone knew Johnny fell in love with me and there was nothing we could do. And Johnny always gets what Johnny wants and that’s what he said.

Ron Bennington: So over the next 20 years though that tension plays out with these two guys.
Linda Ramone: No. We spoke about Joey everyday. No. There was more tension between him and Joey than me and Johnny and Joey. I mean I never got back in the van and hung out with Joey. I mean no, I would never do that to Joey. But stuff happens when you’re a teenager. (laughs)

Ron Bennington: Absolutely it does.
Linda Ramone: You just don’t know it’s going to last you for the rest of your life.

Ron Bennington: I think it’s also interesting that they kept the band together.
Linda Ramone: Yeah because the band was the most important thing. See that was the other thing, everyone said oh Joey should have told Johnny not to talk to you. Johnny definitely knew he wanted me. There was no stopping him. And Joey would never have quit the band to be with me. The band was always number one in every household I left. From Joey’s to Johnny’s. Ramones came first.

Ron Bennington: And even for you being a fan of the band before you even knew these guys, the Ramones came first for you as well, right?
Linda Ramone: Yeah. I would never break up the band. I would never do that. I felt this was the best band in the world. Why would I do that? So, you know what? You keep a low profile and that’s what me and Johnny did.

Ron Bennington: For you, Tommy why would you have kind of taken a step off the road and not wanted to have stayed with that?
Tommy Ramone: Well, what made The Ramones so exciting and innovative and everything was their personalities, but this exciting volatile personality also made it kind of hard to just be with them around the clock. And it was kind of wearing me down. So rather than lose my mind which was kind of where I was heading, I wanted to keep writing songs with them and produce the records so I figured the best thing to do would be to bring in another drummer to go on the road with them and that’s kind of what we ended up doing. It was just basically to keep the Ramones functioning.

Ron Bennington: Was that the hard part for you? The road? Being out there?
Tommy Ramone: Being out there and the personalities. I always felt that if I would have stayed in the band the band might have broken up. Because I think it would have ignited. I think what happened is that when I left, it kind of released some pressure.
Linda Ramone: Johnny wanted you to stay in the band Tommy.
Tommy Ramone: Yes. Yes.
Linda Ramone: As you read.
Tommy Ramone: Yes. Yes. Well, I would have loved to, but it just wasn’t possible.
Linda Ramone: Tommy was having a break down and they laughed. Because that’s what they did. He told them he was having a break down and they all just laughed, everybody laughed at everything.

Ron Bennington: We are talking about the book “Commando” and that’s the autobiography of Johnny Ramone. And it’s a fascinating book to go through because Johnny is just so straight forward with everything in this book. There’s not a lot of nostalgia with him. He certainly never gets into feeling sorry for himself. He’s really up front with just about….
Linda Ramone: Everything.

Ron Bennington: Everything. Yeah.
Linda Ramone: Even dying.

Ron Bennington: Yeah. How was that for you to see his personality at that time because here he is, this guy is as tough as tough can be and when he was facing that?
Linda Ramone: He was still tough to the end. Johnny, the last day he was dying, he was like I don’t want you, because Eddie Vedder was staying at the house that day. And he had just got off the phone with Lisa Marie Presley and he said “I don’t want you going out to lunch today”. And I was like why? And he goes “I just want you all around”. And so he knew he was gonna…he planned on dying that day. He knew.

Ron Bennington: And everybody was around?
Linda Ramone: Everybody was around. Different people kept coming in. Lisa came. Rob Zombie came. Yeah, Lisa writes the epilogue and exactly what she says is exactly what happened. Everybody just piled in and Johnny went to sleep before everyone got there and that was it. And we all just stayed around. And I slept on him that night and then the next day they came and take him.

Ron Bennington: That’s another thing that he just took care of like he did all these other things that making sure that he got the money, making sure that he took care of the band and the arrangements and stuff. Here was another thing to make sure. I think that he wanted to leave some of this for the record, but I also think that this is something that he wanted to do for you. That he wanted to keep this out here as another source of income and also as another source of .this is exactly the way it all happened..
Linda Ramone: Yeah. He wanted to show everybody exactly how it was and he didn’t want me to have to defend him.

Ron Bennington: Yeah. Did you ever feel the need that you ever had to defend him?
Linda Ramone: No. (laughing) No. And if I did, I wouldn’t talk to the person anymore. C’est la vie.

Ron Bennington: Thank you guys so much for stopping by here and sharing some of these stories.
Linda Ramone: Oh thanks for having us.
Tommy Ramone: It was great. Thanks.