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He's 'Entitled' to the Ramones legacy

Former band member kicks out the stops with a tour and a new album.

October 10, 2013|By Jonny Whiteside
  • Richie Ramone, former Ramones drummer, in his Los Angeles home studio on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013. Ramone released his first solo album "Entitled."
Richie Ramone, former Ramones drummer, in his Los Angeles… (Tim Berger / Staff…)

New York punk rock architects the Ramones were one of America’s most ideally realized, irresistibly elemental rock ’n’ roll bands of all time, and even a decade after the deaths of its three primary founders — Joey, Dee Dee, Johnny — the loss still stings. Yet their walloping musical legacy lives on in nearby Eagle Rock, of all places, thanks to the efforts of former drummer Richie Ramone, whose just-released new album, “Entitled” (DC Jam Records), not only blazes with pure Ramones-informed momentum, but furthers and enhances the deceptively simplistic style with a deftly elegant mix of creative drive and experiential verve.

For “Entitled,” Ramone, who played more than 500 shows with the punk legends between 1983 and 1987, enlisted fiery New York City guitarist Tommy Bolan, of Warlock, a musician whose powerhouse approach lends the album an appropriately calamitous, hard-rocking atmosphere.

But it’s no nihilistic downer: “The new songs all came about in the last two years. Songwriting is about an emotion that strikes you, and I’ll write ideas down but I don’t finish a song until I have a purpose, so I completed all of these for the album,” Ramone said in a tough-as-black-leather New Jersey accent. “The [title song’s] main message is that life is rough, yes, but we are all entitled to something good, something to kick you in the ass and get you going.”

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His compositions are consistently sleek, muscular and engagingly blunt, and it is important to note that Ramone was one of a very few non-founders ever allowed to contribute his own original songs to the Ramones’ set list, introducing solid numbers like “Somebody Put Something In My Drink,” which the band regularly performed up to its final concert in Hollywood, a very significant achievement.

“In total, Richie wrote six songs for the Ramones,” his manager, Doreen Sanchez, said. “And with this album, it was really important for Richie to re-record his Ramones tracks with his spin on them. Many people don’t realize how much he contributed to the band in the five years he was with them. Joey and Dee Dee fully supported Richie as a songwriter and even let him take lead vocals on a few tracks.”

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