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Book of the Month: Richie Ramone's I Know Better Now
Backbeat Books/Donna S. Balancia

Book of the Month: Richie Ramone's I Know Better Now

I Know Better Now: My Life Before, During and After the Ramones
by Richie Ramone with Peter Aaron

While the story of New York punk icons the Ramones has been told and retold over and over again in various books by various people associated with the band, one constant is that drummer Richie Ramone’s role has always been minimized.

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Perhaps that’s not surprising; he’s not the original (that was Tommy), and he’s not the most recognizable face seen on da bruddas’ stool (that’s probably Marky). But still, the man born Richard Reinhardt in Jersey was the third guy to take the role (Clem Burke of Blondie had it for a very short stint, and was rechristened Elvis Ramone because of his trademark hair). Richie played on three albums: Too Tough to Die in ’84, Animal Boy in ’86 and Halfway to Sanity in ’87. Then he was out again, as Marky returned. Richie wrote a few songs, too, including the awesome “Somebody Put Something in My Drink.” His part of the larger Ramones story deserves to be told in full.

That’s what Richie, along with respected music scribe Peter Aaron, has attempted to do with I Know Better Now. Richie’s childhood is explored through a series of anecdotes that run the gamut from touching to hilarious, as most great autobiographies do. We learn about his work with early bands Ambulance, Remod, Velveteen, and Fred Schneider of the B-52s with his Shake Society. Of course, Richie goes into detail about the in, out and in-between of his time with the Ramones. And we learn about what he did after that, which is arguably most interesting because, from the outside, it felt like he just disappeared.

While Richie has dabbled with the dark side, I Know Better Now isn’t filled with the seedy thrills of Dee Dee Ramone’s Lobotomy, and it isn’t as comical as Monte Melnick and Frank Meyer’s On the Road With the Ramones. But it’s a page turner, and it’s a story that needed to be told.

I Know Better Now: My Life Before, During and After the Ramones by Richie Ramone with Peter Aaron is available now through Backbeat Books.

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