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Not My Job: Drummer Marky Ramone Gets Quizzed On Marky Mark

BILL KURTIS, BYLINE: And here's an interview, which gave me a flashback to my days in the New York punk scene when I was known as Kill Burtis.



Marky Ramone was the drummer, of course, for the seminal punk band the Ramones. I asked him about the strange coincidence that everybody in that band was named Ramone.


SAGAL: So let's start from the beginning. Your name was not originally Ramone.


SAGAL: And the idea of the Ramones - there was Joey Ramone, there was Dee Dee Ramone, there was Tommy Ramone, there was Johnny Ramone. They were not actually originally named Ramone either. What was the idea there?

RAMONE: We just wanted to, I guess, sound like a gang or a bunch of brothers. So that was the whole idea of using the name Ramone.

SAGAL: Right. The New York scene - music scene - in the late '60s and '70s, which you were a part of, it seemed like everybody was starting a band, hanging out together downtown. It just seemed like you were in the middle of this insane scene.

RAMONE: Well, yeah. We were very grateful that we had a place like CBGB's to play because at the time, nobody wanted to bank on that genre of music that we call punk. A lot of the stadium rock was - you'd look at one of their albums. They had about six songs on them opposed to 14, which is what the first Ramones' album had on them. And they were short and sweet, two-minute songs. And they wanted to go back to the original intent of rock and roll. So that's why when the Ramones started and Blondie and Talking Heads and Television, Patti Smith, Richard Hell - wanted to bring back rock the way it was intended to be with like Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, all those guys.

SAGAL: Yeah. And you were just like four guys - drums, bass guitar, and lead vocals. I mean, it's amazing...

RAMONE: No auto-tuning.

SAGAL: Yes, to put it mildly. Sometimes no tuning at all, to be fair.

RAMONE: No tuning at all.


SAGAL: A lot of musicians we talk to on the show - I say, oh, what about the rock 'n roll lifestyle? And they go oh, it's all overblown, really. We were in bed by 10. You guys lived it.

RAMONE: (Laughter). We were in bed by 10 a.m. in the morning.

SAGAL: Yeah. I have to - I mean, I have to say to say - and I know your band mates are no longer with us, but at the same time, I'm amazed you guys survived as long as you did given some of the stories you tell.

RAMONE: Yeah, it is. We were definitely freaks of nature.

SAGAL: Yeah.

RAMONE: Anyway, we just persevered, and we realized that what we were doing was a lot of fun. And, of course, like a family, 90 percent it's a lot of fun being together, 10 percent it isn't. But in the end, 90 percent of it was a great time.

SAGAL: There's a story you tell when you were shooting the cult movie now "Rock 'n Roll High School," that you were shooting the movie in an unused high school in L.A., and the fans would come and they'd line up at the fence, and they would throw drugs for you over the fence?

RAMONE: Well, not for me.


RAMONE: For the bass player who was known to indulge.


RAMONE: And they knew we were filming there. And the next thing we know, we'd go to the fence and sign autographs. And we would get all these drugs thrown over the fence - pills, pot, anything. And Dee Dee, our bass player would just put it in his pockets, and then he would put his hands in his pockets and start taking them. He didn't even know what they were.


SAGAL: I got to ask you one last question before you play the game. You tell a story later in the book - you go into rehab 'cause you had your own problems with some substance abuse. You get out, you're clean, and you decide to go to work as a bicycle messenger?

RAMONE: Yeah, I was advised by a psychiatrist to do other forms of work which involved physical labor to stay in shape. I had a drinking problem for a while, and they said stay out of the music business and just do different things.

SAGAL: But my question is, you're a bike messenger in Manhattan. You show up with a package. You're wearing your spandex and your helmet. You walk in at some law office - and did anybody ever look at you and go, Marky Ramone?


RAMONE: One guy recognized me when I was pushing a cart down Broadway. And he said, Marky, what are you doing? I go, pushing a cart.


SAGAL: Ask a stupid question, you get a stupid answer.

RAMONE: And that was it.

SAGAL: Speaking of stupid questions, we are delighted to have you here.

RAMONE: Thank you.

SAGAL: And we have asked you here, Marky Ramone, to play a game we're calling...

KURTIS: Marky Ramone, Meet Marky Mark.

SAGAL: So the other Marky, famous for his contribution to pop music was Marky Mark, which is what the actor Mark Wahlberg used to call himself before he grew body hair. Answer two out of these three of these questions about Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, and we'll give Carl Kasell's voice to one of our listeners on your behalf. Bill, who is Marky Ramone playing for?

KURTIS: Heidi Greene of Luxembourg City, Luxembourg.

SAGAL: So Marky Mark, for those of you who don't remember, was a brief sort of - I guess it was almost a novelty act with Mark Wahlberg. Much like their leader Marky Mark, members of the Funky Bunch had their own nicknames, including which of these? A, Hector the Booty Inspector; B, Marvin the band accountant; or C, Ziggy Miggy Riggy Piggy Iggy?

RAMONE: I would say the first one.

SAGAL: Hector the Booty Inspector?


SAGAL: You'd be correct. Hector the Booty Inspector was an important part of the Funky Bunch.


BRIAN BABYLON: He still calls himself that.

OPHIRA EISENBERG, BYLINE: He's still inspecting booties.

BABYLON: He's still doing it.

SAGAL: He does.

ADAM FELBER: Although in fairness, he is now a proctologist.


SAGAL: Next question, in addition to two best-selling records, Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch are also known for what achievement? A, setting a record for the use of baby oil in one music video; B, creating what many experts say is the worst videogame of all time; or C, developing a new kind of Sharpie called Marky Mark's Marky Marker?


RAMONE: I would say number two.

SAGAL: You're going to say number two? Creating the worst videogame of all time?


SAGAL: You are correct.


SAGAL: Videogame for the Sega system was called Make My Video, and the player gets to assemble various clips and make a Marky Mark video, which you don't - which you can't save, apparently. So it was very terrible. All right, let's see if you can go perfect here. Marky Mark or Mark Wahlberg, has been a successful musician, model, and now, of course, a very famous actor and producer. He has said his ultimate goal was to be a professional golfer, but he says he has now given that dream up. Why? A, 'cause quote, "no pro golfer has gone on to be president; because B, quote, "have you seen the pants those guys wear;" or because C, he's a terrible golfer?

RAMONE: I would say B.

SAGAL: You would say B, that he doesn't want to wear the pants the pros wear?


SAGAL: I actually think he would not wear those pants. He's a fashionable guy, but the answer was C. He has admitted that his dreams of becoming a professional golfer will not work out because he doesn't play golf well enough.


SAGAL: I know.


SAGAL: Bill, how did Marky Ramone do on our quiz?

KURTIS: Marky was on his way for WAIT WAIT glory, but you fell short by one. You're still a winner with two out of three.

SAGAL: There you go.

RAMONE: Well, thank you very much.

SAGAL: Well, Marky, thank you.


RAMONE: That was pretty good.

SAGAL: Marky Ramone was, of course, the drummer for the legendary band the Ramones. His new memoir, which is an amazing piece of pop cultural history is called "Punk Rock Blitzkrieg: My Life As A Ramone." It's out now. Marky Ramone, thank you so much for talking to us. What a pleasure.

RAMONE: Thank you for having me.

SAGAL: Thank you. Bye-bye.


SAGAL: That does it for our mostly music-free music show. We'll be back next week with our usual comedy-free comedy show.


SAGAL: Thanks today to Bill Kurtis, our wonderful guests, all the panelists that you heard and, of course, as always, our scorekeeper emeritus Mr. Carl Kasell. I'm Peter Sagal, and we will see you again next week.


SAGAL: This is NPR. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.