The Ramones famously sang "I Wanna Be Sedated" — but there was nothing sedate about the legendary punk rockers as they toured the country in a cramped van and talked politics, Marky Ramone tells Newsmax TV.
In fact, Ramone says, it was staunch conservative Republican against leftie Democrat as he and band mates Johnny, Joey and Dee Dee rode in their Ford Econoline — and all politicians were fair game for insults.
"Johnny was a conservative and Joey was a liberal Democrat and I'm a Democrat, but you know I have a lot of conservative friends," Marky said Friday on "The Steve Malzberg Show," as he promoted his new book, "Punk Rock Blitzkrieg: My Life as a Ramone,"
published by Touchstone.
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"It was conservative Republican against Democrat, Johnny always loving Ronald Reagan and he was very happy that George Bush won. And then it was Joey supporting Democratic candidates.
"So the arguments would go back and forth about why, what for, what's the reason, you know the usual generalized stuff, but then they would get very specific."
Specific enough for the boys to rip into each other's pet politicians in true rock 'n' roll fashion.
"Ronald Reagan was Johnny's favorite president at the time and Joey didn't like Ronald Reagan," Marky recalled.
"So he said, is he going to fall asleep at the podium again or whatever he was [doing]."
But Marky said he and his bandmates — none of whom were related although they all used the name "Ramone" — knew the value of having the freedom to debate. And they loved it.
"That's the country we live in, thank God, and we're able to do that. So I respect people's politics," he said.
Marky, who joined the band in 1978 following the death of original drummer Tommy Ramone, is the last surviving member of the band. Tommy, Joey, and Johnny all died of cancer, Dee Dee of a heroin overdose.
"[Cancer is] an insidious disease and it doesn't discriminate against anyone. You can be the healthiest person in the world and die too young to enjoy the fruits of [your] labor," Marky told Steve Malzberg.
He now tours the world with his band, Marky Ramone's Blitzkrieg, which pounds out classic Ramones tunes like, "I Wanna Be Sedated," "Blitzkrieg Bop," "Pet Sematary" and "Sheena is a Punk Rocker."
"Being the last guy connected to them, I feel I want to keep the music alive because of the newer generations … The songs are too good not to be played — and as long as I enjoy it," said Marky, 58.
The band, while popular among the punk rock set, exploded into superstardom with the release of its 1979 film, "Rock and Roll High School," which was executive produced by famed movie schlock master Roger Corman.
"That's really what got us to the next level, which was very important at that time," Marky said.
And what was it about The Ramones — four shaggy-haired musicians clad in jeans, leather jackets and sunglasses — that so many people loved?
"It was the lyrical content and the energy that we had that appealed to youth," Marky said.
As part of his book promotion, Marky — real name Marc Steven Bell — was scheduled to open the New York Stock Exchange Friday morning — until it all went awry in an 11th-hour mix-up.
"They wanted me to ring the bell and last night they informed me about it. When I went there, they had to have somebody else do it that they promised. They said come back anytime and we'll do it again," he said.
"My real last name is Bell and here I am ready to ring the bell, but it was an experience. It was good."
The band — which took its name from Paul McCartney, who toured as Paul Ramone when he was in an early version of The Beatles — may be long gone, but Marky continues to rock on and on.
"It's better late than never. Now, we are accepted all over the world. I tour with Andrew W.K., he's my singer.... I've been to China, Russia, Dubai and they love our Western culture," he said.
"I will go to places I've never been, which is unbelievable. I still can't get over the extent of how popular The Ramones are on this planet."
Speaking of his own politics, Marky said he is a no-holds-barred supporter of President Barack Obama.
"He cares about people wanting to have healthcare who can't afford it," Marky said.
"He's for gay marriage. These are individuals, they're human beings. If they had a choice, they wouldn't be gay, but it's a genetic problem — not a problem, but a makeup within them and more power to them. That's the world we live in and if it makes them happy, why not?"
Marky's new book — written with Richard Herschlag and published by Touchstone, a division of Simon & Schuster, chronicles the story of the Ramones as well as Marky's own struggles, including alcohol addiction, which led him to be temporarily kicked out of the band.
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