If you’ve ever caught an interview with Marky Ramone you know he tends to sound a little rehearsed, like he has stock answers he’d prefer to substitute for in-the-moment emotion. Punk Rock Blitzkrieg: My Life As A Ramone reads a lot like that. It’s less heated than Johnny’s Commando or any of Dee Dee’s volumes, working hard to cram in the most superfluous exposition (OMG, we know what the fucking Berlin Wall was). That said, our self-proclaimed Chicken Beak Boy manages to add a tiny bit of fresh perspective to the Ramones legend while additionally owning up to his own bonkers alcoholism.
Granted, it’s frustrating the drummer can be so candid about substance abuse while ignoring more interesting bits of his mythology, but I suppose only a fool would have expected a chapter devoted to Mark’s alleged wig wearing. There are also several points where it’s not difficult to read between the lines. Die-hards are familiar with the drama between Marky and C.J. and in this tome the former damns the latter with faint praise, mostly saluting his attitude while offering no adjective above “good” to describe the bassist’s playing. Even more telling: there’s no reference to the half decade Mark spent drumming for the Misfits.
Punk Rock Blitzkrieg covers well-worn ground in regard to the founding “bruddahs”: Johnny was fervently right wing, Joey was severely OCD, Dee Dee never met a pill he didn’t like, Tommy was sensitive. Even the author’s struggles with the bottle have been tackled to varying degrees elsewhere. If there’s any revelation in PR Blitzkrieg it’s Marky’s admission that he believes Phil Spector to be innocent of Lana Clarkson’s 2003 murder. Give him credit for sticking by his pal.
The most fascinating stuff in the book comes before Mark’s time in the Ramones, when he bounced from power trio Dust to country rockers Estus (major label ding dongs who owned a swank mansion in upstate New York) before landing in Richard Hell’s Voidoids. The Voidoids were mastering their debut album the night of the 1977 New York City blackout. On his way home, Mark decided it was time to get his; he picked up a trash can and attempted to hurl it through a bank window. The can bounced off the plexiglass like a Nerf football. Inside, a security guard smiled and waved.
Other interesting snippets: Steven Tyler was nice to the Ramones back in the day, Sting wasn’t, Dee Dee’s rap career was just as much about annoying the other Ramones as it was about a love for hip hop, Marky has a twin brother named Fred, Marky likes the Circle Jerks.
Punk Rock Blitzkrieg summed up in one line: probably the one on the last page where Marky expresses satisfaction with his career because both the Pope and Obama are Ramones fans. I’ve never seen Barack in a Mondo Bizarro t-shirt but I’m happy to take the Chicken Beak’s word.
[UPDATE #3: CHUCK BISCUITS ALIVE? An e-mail I just received at 6:34 PM EST:
“Dear James Greene,
This note is on behalf of Bob Montgomery, who ask me (his wife) to let you know that CHUCK IS ALIVE. Bob is on his way to see him now and will send you a follow up email in the near future. Thank you for taking the time to reply to Bob’s email this morning.
Case closed? Not until I figure out who the hell was e-mailing me for six months pretending to be Chuck and his wife. A “full disclosure” post regarding my side of this whole mess is coming shortly.]
[UPDATE #2: Further e-mails have been exchanged with Chuck’s brother Bob Montgomery; after I confirmed the name of Chuck’s wife via two independent sources, Bob wrote:
“Chuck and I have been somewhat estranged for a time, but this seems fishy. I am going to his home to get to the bottom of this, I will let you know one way or the other. If this is a hoax, I will pop Chuck in his beak. I am allowed. He is my little brother.”
The investigation continues. At this point, I don’t know whom to believe.]
[UPDATE: Rumors are beginning to swirl that this is some kind of elaborate hoax. If so, I can assure you I am NOT in on it. I have previously chronicled my contact with Chuck / person(s) claiming to be Chuck(?) and never had any reason to disbelieve their claims.
Since this post went viral, however, several people (including former Danzig bassist Eerie Von and Chuck’s brother Bob Montgomery) have openly questioned his death. All I can tell you is I’ve been communicating with two people since May I was always 99.999% sure were THE Chuck Biscuits and his wife from e-mail addresses bearing their names. They never asked me to wire money to a Nigerian prince or adopt their child, so I took it all at face value.
Chuck’s wife is allegedly the one who has been sending out mass e-mails about Chuck’s condition to family and friends; I didn’t use her name below because I didn’t know if she’d be comfortable with that and it didn’t seem like a good time to bring it up, considering her husband was dying. I’m still not going to use her name on the same grounds.
Although I can’t imagine why a former member of Danzig would want to fake his own death via the Internet, I know plenty of people who severely dislike me and would take any chance they could to play on my gullibility to make me look as stupid as possible (i.e. e-mail me for six months pretending to be a dying drummer I admire). If this is all a big fat lie, I’m sorry, but I promise I was duped just as hard as you.]
Legendary hard rock drummer Chuck Biscuits, whose lengthy résumé included stints in such flagship underground acts as Black Flag and Social Distortion, died Saturday after a prolonged battle with throat cancer. He was 44.
“In response to the inquires, thank you for all the support,” an anonymous family member wrote in an e-mail sent this morning. “Chuck did not survive his battle with throat cancer. He passed surrounded by his family on 10/24/09.”
Chuck Biscuits was probably best known to the general populous for his work with Danzig. Beginning in 1988, Chuck played on that group’s first four albums, which are often hailed as Danzig’s best (thanks in no small part to Chuck’s powerful drumming style). The percussionist also appeared on 1993’s Thrall: Demonsweatlive EP; that release yielded an unexpected chart-burning hit for Danzig in “Mother,” a song the band originally included on their self-titled debut.
Yet Chuck Biscuits was not completely bound by the shackles of heavy metal / hard rock—the drummer kindly lent his talents to various tracks on Run-D.M.C.’s fourth album, 1988’s Tougher Than Leather. Leather boasted a handful of hits for the famed Hollis Crew, including “Mary, Mary” and “Beats To The Rhyme.”
Born Charles Montgomery on April 17, 1965, in British Columbia, Chuck Biscuits cut his teeth with Canadian hardcore outfit D.O.A. before relocating to California in 1982 and joining Black Flag. Biscuits left that group after five months of touring and began bouncing around from band to band, clocking time with classic punk acts such as the Circle Jerks, Fear, and the Weirdos. It wasn’t long before Chuck made a name for himself in the rock underground with his utterly ferocious yet completely accurate attack; he was rumored to be at the top of Nirvana’s drummer “wish list” in the days prior to Dave Grohl.
The last major group Chuck played with was Social Distortion, beginning in 1996. He appeared on only one of their releases, 1998’s Live At The Roxy, before promptly leaving the band a year later. It is unknown whether the drummer’s throat cancer played a part in that departure.
Outside of music, Chuck Biscuits was a known lover of art who spent some time in the late 1980s sculpting and attending college art classes. Biscuits also enjoyed vintage breakfast cereal collecting; one Danzig home video release tagged Chuck as a “Professor of Cerealogy, PhD.” in a segment wherein the drummer expounded upon his love of sugary morning delights (“It’s a very expensive habit…once you’ve had Boo Berry, there’s no turning back.”)
“Chuck was one of the best of the original wave of punk drummers,” Descendents drummer Bill Stevenson said in brief e-mail exchange with the author last year. “His style was easily recognizable, and he seemed to have just a ton of extra energy when playing drums. He is one of those people who did not have to practice a lot to play really well.”
“It came very natural to him,” Stevenson continued. “He was hugely influential without really being as ‘famous’ as drummers who were actually much less influential musically.”
It is unknown exactly who Chuck is survived by, but they will surely miss him, as will an entire generation of rock n’ roll fans.