DETAILS OF BOOK: PUNK THE BEST OF PUNK MAGAZINE (2013)
AND INTERVIEW WITH JOHN HOLMSTROM
TO INDEX PAGE OF SHOW REPORTS OR
2) GO TO MAIN PAGE OF MY
3) READ MY INTERVIEW WITH JOHN HOLMSTROM.
Copyright 2013 -> : John Holmstrom, Joe Finnegan and Jari-Pekka
Laitio-Ramone / Ramones.kauhajoki.fi.
well to Patricia Ragan.
DETAILS OF BOOK:
John Holmstrom was main man
behind of creating Punk magazine in 1975. Legs McNeil was second
published 17 issues
between 1976 and 1979, one special issue in 1981 and few in 2000's.
There were lot material related to the Ramones. Holmstrom saw the
Ramones for the first time at CBGB's in the summer of 1975.
got published The Best Of Punk Magazine book. Publisher is HarperCollins
Publishers. A book launch was at the Powerhouse Arena in Brooklyn,
NY, USA in January 11, 2013. You can read story of it below.
Other book party events include John Holmstrom appearing
at MoCCA Arts Fest, Armory 68 Lexington Ave, btw E
25th and E 26th St., New York, USA on April 6 (11AM-6PM) and
April 7, 2013 (11AM-6PM).
Best of Punk Magazine was five years long process. It is featuring
lot material from original issues, behind-the-scenes stories about every
single issue, with dozens of unpublished photos and drawings. Book has
centerfold photos of the Ramones and Niagara from Punk magazine 1, Iggy
Pop interview from Punk magazine 4, Patti Smith interview from Punk
magazine 2 etc. Here are some information by John Holmstrom of "Ramones
movie" Rock'n'roll High School movie.:
interview with Joey Ramone includes dozens of photos taken by Joey
himself during the shooting of (movie) what has been called Roger
Corman's favorite film (of all the movie he ever produced!)!!! Many
photos in color.
Buy book from: The
Amazon.com or from
STORY OF EVENT BY JOE FINNEGAN
On Fri. 1/11/13 the launch party was held for PUNK The Best Of Punk
Magazine book compiling 18 issues of the legendary magazine created by
John Holmstrom and hometown friends Ged Dunn and Legs McNeil which
chronicled the early CBGB/ Max's punkrock scene in NYC and who's story
in issue #1 helped get the Ramones. signed to Sire records.
celebration began at 6pm and many of the now famous contributors were on
hand to sign books for the jam-packed crowd at Powerhouse Arena, a
beautiful bookstore/art/performance space in DUMBO Brooklyn.
Joining John Holmstrom at the signing tables were Roberta Bayley, Bob
Gruen, Godlis, Mary Harron, Robert Romagnoli, The Dictators' Andy
Shernoff, Manic Panic's/Sic Fucks. Tish and Snooky, Joe Stevens, Spencer
Drate, Mickey Leigh (brother of Joey Ramone), Bridget Hurd, Bruce
Carlton, and Jolly the resident punk. These were the artists, writers,
film makers, musicians who contributed to or were featured in the
magazine whose stories, photos, and art had such an impact on so many of
In the audience were photo legend Marcia Resnick, members of the
Bullys, other NY luminaries and just the coolest fans on earth! (like at
a Joey Birthday Bash!) There was Bossa
N'Ramones on the soundtrack
and a Manic Panic hair-dye station where people were getting a quick
punk makeover! There was a slide show with rare archival images narrated
by Holmstrom and iconic Punk Magazine art and photos on all the walls. A
great party! And so worth it - the book beautifully edited and printed
is $30.00 US, from HarperCollins Publishers and is a MUST for any
Text is written by Joe Finnegan.
INFORMATION OF PHOTOS (SEE IN RIGHT)
had no chance to send photos so I looked some photos taken by me from my
archives. You can see in right photo of John Holmstrom with Ramones fan
Maria Patellaro and in another photo Richie Stotts of The Plasmatics and
Finnegan who wrote this story. Btw, look similarities of Richie and John
in those photos.
INTERVIEW WITH JOHN HOLMSTROM BY
JARI-PEKKA LAITIO-RAMONE (APRIL-SEPTEMBER 2013)
Jari-Pekka: 1) How you do feel, were you and
Legs McNeil first people to use word "punk." Can you describe
background of idea of using word punk?
Well, sorry to say, we were hardly the first people to use the word. The
first use I saw was Frank Zappa's "Flower Punk" on "We're Only In It For
The Money" (1968). Several years later, Alice Cooper was "Punk of
the Month" in Creem magazine, which also labeled so many bands as
"punk." Suicide billed themselves as a "Punk Band" in 1970.
Legs was never into music, so for some strange reason he thinks he
invented the term "punk," and as more of the truth comes out, he just
sadly clings to the idea that he invented "punk rock." I wish he would
stop doing so. As I keep telling him, his greatest triumph was to call
"punk rock" a social movement and to call himself the first "punk." Legs
started the "punk movement!" What is weird to me is that Legs'
contribution to society as the "first punk" is so much bigger than
naming the magazine. But instead, he clings to the idea that he named
the magazine. But Legs is a weird guy.
Jari-Pekka: 2) Thanks for explaining about real
situation of background of people using word punk and punk rock. That
will surprise many people.
But, can you please explain more your thoughs of this your line: "What
is weird to me is that Legs' contribution to society as the "first punk"
is so much bigger than naming the magazine."
Btw, was Hilly Kristal really throwing Legs out from CBGB's in early
days, as is posed in a first photo shoot Roberta did for PUNK magazine.
John Holmstrom: This is an important distinction in the history of
punk rock: Legs didn't name the magazine, he didn't think of the name
for "punk rock," and in fact, he didn't have a whole lot to do with
starting the magazine. It's often difficult for me when people ask me
about how I started the magazine. Just last night, someone asked me if
I worked for Legs McNeil back then. He could not comprehend that Legs
worked for me and Ged and that I actually started the magazine.
However, like I tried to explain in the magazine, Legs came up with the
idea of launching "The Punk Movement." He was the first person to invent
himself as a "punk." Before Legs, punk rock was a vague term that
described music inspired by The Stooges and other grungy glam bands.
This idea: that "punk" was a new social movement, is a big reason why
the media descended on Punk magazine back then. We were the first
entity, band, magazine, club or whatever, that promoted the idea of a
person being a "punk" instead of a "hippie." This was a natural
progression, it didn't come from Legs' imagination (although he seems to
think it did, for some odd reason). My main point is that this became an
important part of the whole punk rock scene, and how and why it exploded
in England, especially when the Ramones toured there in 1976. We really
did set the stage for all this to happen. The CBGB scene treated us as a
joke, there weren't a lot of true punks here in 1976, but London
embraced the idea.
Jari-Pekka: 3) Btw, was Hilly Kristal really throwing
Legs out from CBGB's in early days, as is posed in a first photo shoot
Roberta did for PUNK magazine.
John Holmstrom: The photo of Legs getting tossed was for a photo comic
that never came together. As I said in the book, this was to be
Roberta's first job for the magazine, but since we never were able to
use the photos I promised she could get our next big assignment. This
turned into the famous Ramones photo shoot for PUNK #3, which ended up
producing the image for the Ramones' first record cover.
Jari-Pekka: 4) You wrote in third issue, the whole reason
your magazine was called PUNK was because of the Ramones.
John Holmstrom: Yes, the Ramones were a huge reason the magazine was
called PUNK. When I saw the band in August 1975, I heard the song Judy
Is A Punk, and that was a big reason to call the magazine "punk."
However, the Dictators also used the word in some lyrics. But to me,
they were the two most important bands in the world back then. And I
think I was right. The thing is, by November 1975, the Dictators had
broken up, and we were told they would never perform again. So the
Ramones were the only punk rock band around, when you think about
People back then HATED the magazine because we mostly covered the
Ramones, the Dictators, Richard Hell, Patti Smith and Blondie. They
thought we should spend more space on bands like The Fast, Television,
The Planets, The Miamis, The Mumps, Wayne County, The Heartbreakers, The
Brats, Milk 'N' Cookies, etc. etc.
I think we were right to concentrate on the bands we thought were the
best. The Ramones, early Blondie and the Dictators were punk, most of
the other bands were glam bands. Nothing wrong with that, just not right
for a magazine named "PUNK."
Jari-Pekka: Emily Xyz was one of those you got hooked to
scene in 70's. She tells in
my third book Ramones:
Soundtrack Of Our Lives for example: "After sitting beside John
Holmstrom for a few days and hearing this tape (Ramones debut) about 100
times, I surrendered unconditionally!
Holmstrom used to play a tape of the
Ramones. first album over and over and over again as he hand-lettered
and pasted up the magazine's pages, so that's how I first heard them.",
told Emily Xyz, who later did Illiterature zine etc.
Jari-Pekka: 5) Did Seymour and Linda Stein really said
PUNK issue one was one reason why they signed the Ramones?
John Holmstrom: Danny Fields (Ramones manager) did say to me that the
story written by
Mary Harron helped
convince Seymour to sign the Ramones. I heard this from Danny, and
people have told me that Seymour confirmed it. There's some doubt about
this because some stories say that they signed with Sire before the
magazine came out. On the other hand, that centerfold story was printed
before the magazine came out, it was given to the Ramones in
mid-December of 1975, and so I think this was something that helped
convince Seymour to sign the band.
Mary's story was that good - and the photos were also amazing, IMHO. I
heard it was like the straw that broke the camel's back - the final
reason. It certainly wasn't the only reason, there were already a lot
of labels, producers and industry people interested in the
Jari-Pekka: 6) What 2-3 issues are mentally most
important to you and why?
John Holmstrom: Wow! Well, that first issue was so important. For PUNK
came together and that interview with Lou Reed has become so classic.
People said back then and say now that this was our peak. I can't argue
with that - to me Lou Reed was the apex of rock music, and my interview
with him captured that moment.
The other issue I like so much is PUNK #15: Mutant Monster Beach Party.
I am not the only person who considers this as a classic, not just for
PUNK but for all magazines published in the 20th century. It starred
Joey Ramone and Debbie Harry as star-crosed lovers, and Andy Warhol as a
mad scientist. Lots of other CBGB people appeared in it, like Paul Zone,
Lester Bangs, Tish and Snooky, even John Cale!
The other issue I like so much is PUNK #14. The Sex Pistols Tour. I was
so unbelievably lucky to be on that tour. All I wanted to do was to see
the Sex Pistols once before I died but instead, thanks to Tom Forcade,
the founder of High Times magazine, I got to see the whole tour. And
what a tour it was! I have to think that the Sex Pistols US tour in 1978
was the greatest in rock and roll history. Having a front row seat, and
being able to report on the tour, and having my article named "the
definitive account" in several reports was beyond amazing.
My biggest regret is that I had front row seats for a Runaways/Ramones
double-bill at the Palladium/Academy of Music! And had to decide between
the two. Of course, in 1978, as a journalist, I had to follow the Sex
Pistols. On the other hand, since I had just contributed the album cover
artwork to the Ramones "Road to Ruin," how could I skip their
Feel free to tell me what YOU would have done. I am still torn by my
Jari-Pekka: 7) Can you recall memories what Debbie Harry
(Blondie etc.) and Joey Ramone thought after you told of your idea of
Mutant Monster Beach Party?
Like Joey being a surfer kid, Joey wanting to fight with monster after
monster ate kids... I think Joey loved to be in a fantasy world of
Mutant Monster Beach Party? (See photo in right featuring Joey).
John Holmstrom: I think what people have to realize when it comers to
Mutant Monster is that Chris Stein (Blondie etc.) and Debbie were so
involved, on a very intimate level. The genesis took place at the
"World Sleaze Convention" in Wilmington, Delaware, USA, during Labor Day
weekend in 1976. Edie "The Egg Lady" was the headliner while Legs and I
were special guests. Debbie and Chris drove all the way down from NYC to
be a part of the event, mostly because Rondo Hatton, who was a favorite
of Chris Stein, appeared on the cover of the event program.
I describe some of the crazy stuff from that weekend in the book, and
also told some stories in a magazine article that was published in the
"National Screw" magazine, published in 1976.
Anyhow, that was the beginning of Mutant Monster Beach Party, and once
we worked out a script and the story boards we shot all the photos in
the summer of 1977. But it took another year to add the artwork and
dialog to the photos!
Joey loved being a part of Mutant Monster Beach Party. Then again, he
always loved being a part of PUNK magazine. My fondest memories are when
Joey and I stood court at CBGB in the early days, meeting media people
from all over the world who wanted to cover the punk phenomenon. It was
amusing to both os us, and a lot of fun, to promote each other. It would
be like: "Ha! These people came to CBGB's because they heard of PUNK
Magazine!" or "OK! These people are here because they heard of the
Ramones!" But it was never, ever competitive. Instead, we were both
amazed that this was all taking place. And we were so happy to help each
other because we knew that it was helping the magazine, the band, and
the whole CBGB scene.
So by the time we did Mutant Monster Beach Party, and Joey was cast to
star in it with Debbie Harry, he jumped right into the deep end of the
pool, so to speak. He wrote lyrics for the theme song (which ended up in
Danny Says), he suggested casting ideas (like Mickey Leigh and Arturo
Vega for the UFO crew - the scene he suggested for the script), and
basically did everything asked of him to help us make it happen. No one
was happier that Joey once it came out.
I do not think Joey was a surfer, really. But I think he really enjoyed
playing one in the photo comic/fumetti. After all, we all loved the
1960's surf music and the Beach Boys so much. I think Joey knew this was
a tribute to all the pop/junk culture of the 1960's.
The weirdest thing is that this issue Mutant Monster Beach Party was the
worst-selling issue we ever did (along with The Legend of Nick
Detroit, issue #6, which starred Richard Hell). These two issues sold
terribly, but the other hand, all these years later, these are the
issues that everyone likes the most!
Jari-Pekka: 8) It was really surprising to hear of
Mutant Monster Beach Party issue being the worst-selling issue you
Can you please tell how hard or easy it was to get distribution channels
to first issues in other cities in the USA, in UK etc.? In how many
countries distros were selling issue like 10#?
John Holmstrom: Yes, getting the magazine distributed back then was
always the most
difficult part, and in fact it is still the most difficult part for
anything creative, as I am sure you know. Unless you are a big-time
publisher in the USA and publish several titles every week/month, you
can't get a magazine on newsstands. For a while, we had High Times
magazine helping us, but without them we would send magazines to a town
like Cleveland, where we got so many people asking for it, and the sales
reports would come back that we sold two percent of the magazines we
We did have a list of a few independent distributors and record stores
around the world, so we always had around a thousand or so loyal places
where the magazine would sell, but it was very expensive to print the
magazine and keep a phone line and pay the energy bill and the rent for
If we had published the magazine on cheap newsprint paper, which yellows
after a few weeks, we would have been better able to stay in business.
But then the back issues would look like crap now. We depended a lot on
those back issue sales, and it was also a reason we could charge extra
for advertising, and expect better distribution.
So, for PUNK #15, we had great distribution, and good printing (four
color cover!), and the best issue of PUNK we ever thought we had
published in Mutant Monster Beach Party, and it sold under 20% at the
newsstand? It just kicked my ass. The printing was so expensive we
would have had to sell every copy to pay for it. So this wasn't just a
"bomb," it was like "The Atomic Bomb."
Jari-Pekka: 9) First issue seemed to sell well. In
number six you are selling issue one with 25 US$ and back issues of 2-5
John Holmstrom: As far as the first issue collector item status is
concerned, we printed
4,000 copies of PUNK #1. Most of them went to a newsstand distributor.
Like most newsstand distributors, they sent a small number to sales
locations and the rest were warehoused. Meanwhile, back at the office,
we sent out so many copies of PUNK #1 to people that suddenly we just
ran out! At one point I think we only had five or six copies left. So
when people asked to buy one, we set an impossible price: $25. That's
more than $100 in today's value.
Jari-Pekka: 10) Debbie Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie
wrote really nice foreword
to the book and captured what kind of outsider place East Village was in
John Holmstrom: Debbie and Chris were so important to the magazine, and
therefore to the
development to punk rock itself. I was angry when they went disco and
moved onto rap music, but there's no denying their talent and vision.
All these years laters I see their genius in recognizing talent before
it took root.
11) Do you remember something special how Joey Ramone,
Johnny Ramone and Dee Dee Ramone reacted to Punk magazine and
John Holmstrom: Joey was always so supportive. In fact - here's
something people do not know - he wrote the fan letter from "Judy The
Punk" that appeared in our first-ever Letter page in PUNK #2. He
constantly sent letters and postcards, hoping to get them published. He
helped set up interviews, and most important of all he would tip us off
to bands we should cover, like DEVO and the Dead Boys.
I had very little contact with Dee Dee and Johnny, they were a bit
suspicious of the music press. But of course Johnny hired me to do
artwork for Rocket To Russia and Road To Ruin, and was always supportive
of the mag. We were always given special treatment by the band, I went
to many shows in the van or given free tickets. We had a very special
relationship with the Ramones.
12) Of what cover illustration you has got most positive
John Holmstrom: Actually, not a record cover but the cover of PUNK #3
has received the
most attention recently. It was featured as the main icon the "The
Downtown Show" when it was exhibited at the Andy Warhol Museum several
years ago, and the CBGB filmmakers recreated it for the film using the
actor who plays Joey! And then I redrew the cover image as if it took
place in CBGBs for the film. That was a weird experience. Anyhow, I
tried to honor many bands that played CBGBs in that drawing, so even
tough it is not visible in the film itself, I hope people will enjoy the
image later on. Maybe as a DVD extra or something.
The other PUNK magazine images that receive a lot of attention are PUNK
#1 (Lou Reed) and Iggy (PUNK #4). Also, PUNK #6 (Nick Detroit, starring
13) Which cover illustration you would like to re-make
John Holmstrom: None.
Well, none from the 1970s. I wish I could re-do the cover with The
Bullys (PUNK #19). That was a very difficult issue to produce. I
remember I had to download the Adobe InDesign program and learn how to
use it in just one week - I had been preparing to send them actual art
pages (analog), but they wanted everything in PDF format. What an awful,
horrible development digital technology has been.
14) Bobby London is one of those who did drawings to
John Holmstrom: Yes. I was a big fan of Bobby's underground cartoon
work, as well as his
comic strip in the National Lampoon. So I explained to Joey and Arturo
that he was a V.I.P. and deserved a lot of respect. And they followed
through. And Bobby became a very important contributor to PUNK magazine,
he did a lot of classic work for us, like the cover of PUNK #10
(Blondie, he was a huge fan of Debbie Harry), and "Mutant Monster Beach
Party" (PUNK #15).
15) Can you tell something of Arturo
Vega, like something what you discussed being really inspiring to
each other of your works?
John Holmstrom: Arturo was actually a bit jealous when Johnny approached
me to do work
with the Ramones. Arturo thought my work was "too cartoony" and
preferred a more serious expression. After all, he was hired on to be
their Art Director, and while I respected his position, it was obvious
that Johnny was calling the shots.
Of course, I always liked Arturo's work with the Ramones. His early work
is one of the reasons I was so interested in them: A band with their own
Art Director? How great is that! Plus, the images he produced for the
early posters and that first record cover were so stark and sort of
menacing. Not to mention that everyone loved his Ramones' T-shirt
Arturo, being the nice guy he was, got over his jealousy most of the
time. I remember when he gave me the first run of the t-shirt for
"Rocket To Russia," which featured my pinhead drawing. It looked great,
and Arturo was so happy to give it to me. It was like, "Gabba Gabba, I
For the most part we got along great, and I think that over the years,
Arturo understood that when the Ramones attracted world-call artists to
work with them, it increased their "brand recognition" and all that
stuff. You know, Jef Koons did a record cover with the Ramones, and I
think Arturo might have even had a had in getting him to do it, and I
have seen a quote from Koons where he says this was his favorite thing
ever, the one work of art he was most proud of: A Ramones record cover.
And this guy just had one of his sculptures sold for millions and
millions of dollars!!!
Pretty cool, right?
Then there's the Richard Hambleton Ramones painting, etc. I think Arturo
somehow nurtured that as well. Altogether, Arturo did a lot more for the
band than many people realize... But so did Johnny, who in my opinion
did a lot behind the scenes to manage the band and move them in a good
I still wish they would have hired a bongo player in the early 1980s,
16) How you see Arturo's significance to punk scene, he
was from the beginning in a middle of NYC scene and was encouraging for
John Holmstrom: I think i answered that. But the amazing thing about
CBGB that you must remember is that there were amazing creative people
everywhere you looked. Mary Harron, future filmmaker, rubbed shoulders
with Jim Jarmusch. So many musicians launched their careers there, not
just in the 1970s but in the 1980s: Beastie Boys, Rob Zombie, The Might
be Giants, etc. etc.
Interview will continue.
Thanks John Holmstrom.
TO INDEX PAGE OF SHOW REPORTS OR
2) GO TO MAIN PAGE OF MY