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Commando: The Autobiography of Johnny Ramone

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  416 ratings  ·  77 reviews
Raised in Queens, New York, Johnny Ramone founded one of the most influential rock bands of all time, but he never strayed from his blue-collar roots and attitude. He was truly imbued with the angry-young-man spirit that would characterize his persona both on and off stage. Through it all, Johnny kept the band focused and moving forward, ultimately securing their place in...more
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published April 2nd 2012 by Harry N. Abrams (first published April 1st 2012)
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Mike
Aug 31, 2012 Mike rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
I considered it an act of Divine Providence that propped up on a shelf for the entire world and I to see “Commando: The Autobiography of Johnny Ramone”.

The Ramones: Rock n’ Roll’s fast and furious for twenty years. Sure they were in a movie, sure they had an album produced by Phil Spector, sure they were the front men for “punk”, but they never had a #1 hit. Personally, I thought they were great, and as Johnny says in this memoir, they only got bigger after retirement.

Every Ramones song was play...more
Jason McNamara
Right away Johnny Ramone wants you to be aware of an important fact about him. He's a fucking asshole. He makes a great point to detail why he's such a bastard and by the end of the book I'm ready to be one too. He talks about beating people up, throwing televisions off of roofs at people, robbing stores and reports with glee that a person who once ratted him out was hit and killed by a car. He also talks about beating up joey ramone because he was late to a movie. Johnny stresses punctuality a...more
Caryn Rose
I hated it, and then I liked it, and then I loved it. I have read pretty much everything that has been written by or about the Ramones, and was dreading this book. It's not pretty and it's not polished and there are times the writing is just so unbelievably dry I regretted even starting the book. But over time I grew to both like and respect Johnny a lot more than I ever did. I am sure every member of the band had their own take on who did what, but this actually ended up feeling more even-hande...more
Alan Hamilton
What a fantastic book!

Just like a Ramones song, it is fast, no nonsense and brutally blunt.
Johnny described himself as unique, a legend and always right and the latter characteristic comes through loud and clear in the book.

Basically, Johnny was the Ramones. He was the angry, dour, control freak who held the band together and controlled everything band-related (the songs, the look, the gig deals, etc). For example, the 'new' drummer wasn't allowed to vote on band matters like wherher the band sh...more
Nestor Rychtyckyj
I've pretty much read all of the books on the Ramones and this, along with "I Slept with Joey Ramone" are the essential cornerstones of any Ramones library. Johnny died in 2004 and this book is based on his writings and notes. This book is most like the Ramones - blunt and to the point - no filler, no guitar solos. Johnny was with the Ramones from start to finish and he ran the band like any CEO would run his company. It started as a passion for him, but he realized quickly that the Ramones were...more
Jim
Ramones' songs were written as if timed to a machine gun: short, fast, to the point, and--in particular--loud. That was the beauty of their music. Johnny's autobiography is written in likewise fashion. Yes, you even get the feeling as you read it that it's loud. The Ramones were the greatest rock n' roll band the world had ever known and Johnny just wants to remind us of this. Typical of anything dealing with the Ramones you most likely have to be a fan to appreciate it, but if you are a fan, yo...more
Rob
The Ramones had a drill sergeant and very possibly owe their longevity and hence their ongoing influence to him. Actually, Johnny Ramone is a pretty extraordinary figure when you come down to it - a mythmaker revelling in his perceived toughness, a "clean-living" convert to rock as salvation from crime and drugs the way so many other people use religion, a lifelong conservative in a nominally creative and progressive field, a xenophobic (although not apparently racist) working-class man who hate...more
Tamelyn Feinstein
I had to laugh at the media reviews above which speak of Ramone's book as being "delightful" and "charming". Um, no.

It's a fast-paced, energetic read, but there is nothing here that changed my previous impression of Johnny Ramone as being an arrogant and heartless control freak. There were times his sheer unlikeability made me want to throw the book across the room, but I can't say I wasn't entertained.
Randy
I read Joey's, I've read all of Dee Dee's now Johnny sheds light on his life and his time in the business. I've always been a fan and they will always be my favorite group of all time! Thanks for being there in my life when I needed you.
Laura
This is a great rock n'roll autobiography, though it's been put together by Ramone's estate (his words, though). It gives you the perfect amount of history on the band, personal history and behind-the-scenes gossip. Ramone is opinionated, and while aware his may not be the only point of view, it's the only one he sees as making sense. He's very blunt, and pretty funny. The book covers all aspects of his life, from the band, business decisions to his battle with cancer.

Ramone doesn't get too in-d...more
Stevie D




1-2-3-4!

Like a good Ramones song , Commando is short, to the point and a fast read. Johnny pulls no punches here and says bluntly how he felt on everything and everyone, calling it as he saw it. Noone was spared, not even his musical peers in the CBGB days, fellow band members,as well as bagging on Rock Stars that surpassed the Ramones. He was a very proud man and that came thru in his writing. I've read quite a few Ramones biographies and books, as well as seen the movies. So it was finally go...more
Jeff Littrell
Excellent rock bio. I love that you can tell it's written by grouchy Johnny, himself. He can come off as a jerk at times. Sullen and distant. But he speaks honestly of the times, his band, and fellow punk stars like Debbie Harry ( he didn't like her ) and The Clash ( good friends and rivals ).The end of the book details in his own words his battle with cancer. Even stating at one point , "... as you read this, I may not be around anymore...". He's not and that's a bitch. He was a true punk pione...more
Lorenzo Bugarin
I'm going to begin by saying that I love The Ramones. However, I didn't know much about them. Sure, I knew the albums, the songs, the members, and their lineup changes over the years but I didn't know anything about them. I was familiar with Joey because he was the front man but I had no idea that Johnny was the driving force behind arguably the greatest punk band of all time.

I had been looking to buy Henry Rollins's autobiography but by chance I caught a glimpse of Johnny's. I loved the clas...more
Steve Coscia
New insight about Johnny in his own words. The text written near the end of his life is touching - he had no regrets. Johnny grew up only a few miles from me so I related to all the New York anecdotes and locations. He was structured and methodical as a business person, but his personal life had extreme behavioral swings. He makes no excuses - tells it like it was.
While some of this text has been published in past books and documentaries, there is enough fresh material here to keep it interesti...more
Sher
Although I disagree with many of his world views, there is much to admire about the man known as Johnny Ramone. Clearly not afraid of the bold statement, he takes us on a tour through his life as only he could, with a unique voice both brutally straightforward and unapologetically contradictory.

Johnny's vibrance radiates from the very first page, so much so that towards the end of the book I stopped reading for a week or so, not wanting the inevitable to occur. When it does, the absence of his...more
Matt Chic
This is an easy five stars --the Ramones' story as told by the brains behind the band.

Johnny's my favorite Ramone, even though he's a jerk. But he was only jerk because he was smart, organized, and a no-bullshit kind of dude. And he understood that the Ramones needed to be a business as much as a band. The Ramones just wouldn't be the Ramones if it wasn't for him.

If yer already a fan, there's nothing too mind blowing in the book, but there's some interesting little nuggets, and I laughed out lou...more
Rod
I've been listening to the Ramones for 30 years. They wrote and recorded some great songs.

When music takes itself to seriously on occasion we have a need for a band like the Ramones to keep us on track. Short, fun, noisy, and charmingly ludicrous contributions to the quickly dying history of Rock music. The best thing is that Johnny Ramone fully understood this. And he made a lifelong career out of it.

I've read 100's of music biographies. After a while they all start to sound the same. This one...more
Johannah
I really like the Ramones but they weren't really a band I knew anything about. Johnny's autobiography is a fun and easy read. It's written in such a conversational and casual style that makes you feel like he's just sitting there telling stories, some meandering, some short and really tangential, some just hilarious. I highly recommend this fun book, it's bound to make you appreciate the Ramones even more.
Jeremy
I can't say this is actually a well written book, but I really enjoyed reading it. It reads like a transcription of Johnny talking--lots of asides and digressions. It's really well put together, though, with lots of great photographs. He even throws in a couple of solid right-wing ideas, too: we should have bombed Vietnam into oblivian, and executions should be televised. Hey-ho, let's dont.
Stefan Percy
As much as I like the Ramones and their music, and respect the influence they had on the music industry and a number of bands and performers that I really like and listen to today, Johnny Ramone just comes off as an angry, resentful, insensitive, xenophobic, grade-A braggadocious jackass in this book. Right from the get-go, it is filled with a whole lot of bitching and moaning.

In one chapter, he starts off by talking about the fight he had that landed him in the ICU. That wasn't a fight, he was...more
Amanda
One of the better autobiographies and he doesn't pull any punches. I found it very enlightening and in places I was stunned, I won't spoilt it and say why. If you love music and autobiographies read this. Its brilliant
Bel
Quem me conhece, sabe o quanto eu sou viciada em música, principalmente em rock, punk, grunge etc... Tenho várias biografias aqui, mas confesso que encaro como uma leitura que deva ter a hora certa de acontecer.

Esse foi um dos livros que li para a Maratona Literária. E tive sorte, pois eu estava no momento certo para esse tipo de leitura e me deliciei lendo páginas da vida de um dos integrantes de uma das minhas bandas mais queridas, os Ramones.

"Johnny produziu um som tão brutal e direto que inf...more
Derrick
Johnny was no writer, and purely as a book this one is pretty mediocre. But it's a fascinating read about a man who told it like it is and never compromised. He lived life on his own terms. And while he does acknowledge wrongs from time to time, he rarely apologizes for much. He was who he was until the end.

And I do mean the end. He couldn't have died much after this book was finished - certainly it was less than a year. His final paragraph even starts with recognition that he might be gone by...more
Frank J. Caputo
A must for Ramones fans

It was fun reading this book. I was an original Ramones fan so reading about the early history was really fun for me. I believe I still have the issue of Rock Scene magazine with the picture of Johnny Ramone on the subway with his guitar in a plastic shopping bag that he talks about in the book. In 1976 I was in the Navy in South Carolina. One day a bunch of us were hanging out at one guy's trailer. I put on "Leave Home" and someone said, "Take that s##t off the stereo". I...more
Garymcguire
As quick and satisfying as a Ramones song. So far the definitive book on the bands rise to punk stardom. Johnny is in clear control as he holds the Ramones fort together and ups the ammunition with each release thru blistering guitar and a regimented Ramones brand where dropping your leather jacket is a crime worth a bust in the chops. His intensity, anger and faith in the sound is unbreakable. You get the sense he could be a real douchebag to be around but it worked. I was hooked the first time...more
Fred
Have to hand it to Johnny; he appears to be exactly who he appeared to be.

Highlights: his inexplicable crush on Johnny Thunders, his genuine love for the fans (now I know why he signed my ticket stub), and lines like these: "I didn't want to see too many people from the past. If it was 1982, I didn't want to be seeing someone from 1977." Brilliant!

And he quotes Hillel the Elder: "I asked ballplayers for autographs even when I was in my thirties and forties. . . I also asked Tom Seaver for one as...more
Sam Lazar
The Ramones were one of those bands that influenced thousands of bands but sold few records. This book puts a new and different perspective on their almost 30 years together. Written by their guitarest, Johnny Ramone (Born John Cummings), this book tells the story of the band, from the inside. According to Johnny, the common belief that they all got along like brothers was as far from truth as it a idea can be. Marky, the drummer, was an alcholic who would walk away from band pratice randomly an...more
Christine
I love the Ramones! Although Johnny was never my favorite, I thought this was a very good book. He tells his story in what we must assume are his own words. (But I wondered why it took 8 years to get this book published?)

Here we get some good insight into Johnny's no nonsense style and his hard edged control-freakism. We also find out a lot of interesting things about his childhood and his various incarnations pre-Ramones.(For example, he was a Catholic school deliquent,a bully, a drug user,a g...more
Nycdreamin
Not just another in an already lengthy line of books previously written about the Ramones, rather "Commando: The Autobiography of Johnny Ramone" is a brief but deeply personal look back on his own life by the legendary and influential Punk guitarist.

Written and compiled by Johnny Ramone prior to his untimely passing on September 15, 2004 and finally released by Abrams Image in April 2012, "Commando" features 176 pages filled with stories of Johnny's version of how things went down with what migh...more
Jenny
Aug 14, 2014 Jenny rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jenny by: Jerry
Shelves: non-fiction
Although this was not a comprehensive history of the Ramones, it definitely captures Johnny's voice and punk spirit. I enjoyed some of the shared insights about the band (the songs & albums), the behind the scenes at the shows, and the personal things about Johnny (baseball, Elvis, & Disney fan). Great photos and a nice cardboard hardcover!
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