Few true tales have the power to compel and transport the reader quite like the life story of a bona fide Rock & Roll Survivor. Of Rock’s innumerable legends with stories worth telling, so many of them – Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison; the list is endless, really – never lived long enough to write their histories in their own words. And of those that have written autobiographies, no one ever really gets – or takes advantage of – the opportunity to go back and revisit his or her life on the written page, updating the tale or adding details that were perhaps forgotten or too painful to tell the first time around. Cherie Currie, former lead singer of the teenage all-girl rock band The Runaways is an exception to that rule.
Do you know who Russell Brand is? He’s pretty (in)famous in England, but over here I guess he’s best known for his role as the womanizing rock star, Aldous Snow in Judd Apatow’s wildly hilarious comedy, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, or for causing a massive and wonderful ruckus as the “controversial” one-time host of MTV’s otherwise lame Video Music Awards a few years back. He also does a righteous stand-up comedy routine, which I have seen on HBO. Also, he’s dangerously good-looking – definitely my type, physically. I love him so much. Currently I am reading Brand’s 2008 autobiography, My Booky Wook, which details in wickedly clever prose the trajectory of the author’s life and career through sex addiction, drug addiction and what would appear to be flat out mental instability akin to whatever social dysfunction Tom Green suffers from. My Booky Wook is crammed with roll-around-on-the-floor hilarious tales of destruction and mayhem, more sex than in Eric Clapton’s bio (because he boinked everything that moved) and Snuff, Chuck Palahniuk’s porn-industry novel, combined, and certainly way more heroin use than in any book I’ve read previously – and I have read Trainspotting. It’s definitely a page-turner of the highest order and a book I couldn’t help but recommend to you, my dear readers.
Despite the fact that it has possibly the longest title of any book ever written, I was able to read Poisoned Heart: I Married Dee Dee Ramone (The Ramones Years). A Punk Love Story – the gritty new biography by Dee Dee Ramone’s long-suffering ex-wife Vera Ramone King – in the 3 hours it took me to fly from Chicago to Newark. Let me tell you, I loved this book! Everybody knows who the Ramones were, their indelible imprint on rock history, and the importance of the role that Dee Dee Ramone – heartthrob, bassist and primary songwriter – played within the band. Most of what you already know about the history of the band gets rehashed here, not that it’s anything but completely fascinating.
But what makes Poisoned Heart such a gut-wrenching, nostalgia-inspiring page turner is Vera’s first-hand account of what it was like coming up in the rock scene of 1970s New York and her intimate decades-long, bittersweet relationship with Dee Dee. Often a loving husband who doted on Vera and showered her with gifts, Dee Dee Ramone was also a violent drug addict and extremely mentally ill individual who just as often used his wife as a punching bag, making her life quite literally a living Hell. If you’ve ever wondered why a woman stays with a man who beats her, this book will help to shed some light on the many shades of grey of that situation. Clearly it was not as easy for Vera to walk away from the relationship as it might have looked from the outside. Well written, poignant, at times hilarious and ultimately heartbreaking, I cannot recommend Poisoned Heart highly enough for fans of the Ramones and rock fans in general.
The Worley Gig Gives Poisoned HeartFive out of Five Stars!