Richie Ramone - 2010

Richard "Richie Ramone" Reinhardt is my favorite Ramones drummer. As much as I love the other guys, Richie's crisp, metallic sound has always appealed to me more than Tommy's simple pitta-putta and Marky's heavy-hitting thumpery. So I was quite pleased indeed when he took the time to speak with me via phone one August afternoon. As a bit of background, Richie played on Too Tough To Die, Animal Boy and Halfway To Sanity before leaving the band -- and he recently picked up his sticks again for a 2007 project based on musical themes from "West Side Story." As always, my questions are in bold, his answers are in plain:


So what are you up to today?

I'm in L.A., so I'm just chilling.

Oh, you're in L.A.?


What are you doing? Are you playing out there?

No, I live here. I've been out here for about six months.

What drove you to move out to the west coast?

Oh, I lived in Scottsdale for three years before this. I haven't lived in New York for a long time.

Are you doing drumming now? I know you had the thing going on a few years ago.

The "West Side Story" thing we haven't done for a while. We want to work on some more material. We want to have like 40 minutes, with a whole second half. Because it's too hard to book a 15-minute piece. You can't really tour with it. But if I add a whole second half, it can be "An Evening with Richie Ramone." That'll come back eventually. I know it works, and I will do it again. I scored a James Bond piece, so we'll do that, which is really cool. And we'll do a whole second half.

Are you working on putting that together?

Yeah, that's in there. But I'm doing other things right now, with different musicians and stuff. I just got back from South America, where I did some shows with Mickey Leigh.

Oh wow!

so there's a whole bunch of good stuff going on, but I don't wanna talk about it. I want to surprise everybody.

Before you joined the Ramones, you were in a band called The Velveteens? Is that right?

Velveteen. With Lisa Burns, she was the singer. And Sal Maida, who I guess was the bass player with Milk & Cookies or something.

Did you guys record anything?

Yeah, we did an EP and I guess we did a single. I don't even remember.

What did that band sound like?

It was New Wave at its finest, probably. Before New Wave broke. It was really cool wearing vintage clothing and drumming with that early '80s sound. It was good. I did a lot of singing in that band. I did all the background vocals, so about 60% of the time I was drumming, I'd be singing too.

How long had you been playing the drums?

Since '64. A long time.

Wow. I really like your sound in the Ramones because it just seemed really -- first of all, you added more parts, and secondly the sound was really crisp, whereas Marky's sound seemed kind of heavier, thumpier or something.

Well, that's the whole thing. A lot of people have said that. It was real solid and steady, and I locked in and played on top of the beat. I'm not a heavy-handed drummer, you know what I'm saying? Everything comes from my wrists. I hit hard, but I don't move my arms in that fashion. It was like a locomotive when I was in there. Fast and solid.

And Johnny didn't throw a fit when you threw in stuff like the drum beats for "Mama's Boy" or "Worm Man"?

No, you couldn't do a triplet with that stuff or you'd get lost. You had to keep everything 2/4, steady and simple. I mean, I played everything really simply in the Ramones, so getting to do all this crazy stuff in "West Side Story" is a relief. Playing jazz-rock and playing 5/4 time and doing all kinds of crazy syncopated fills, with the orchestra just counting away. But the Ramones -- I think we had Johnny get mad about "Somebody Put Something In My Drink" starting with my drums. He thought that all the instruments should come in at the same time. I remember him saying, "It's not a drum song." So you're right about that; he didn't like when the drums started the song.


Yeah. You ever hear the drums start off any Ramones songs after that? It's always "1-2-3-4."

Oh yeah!

"Drink" has been covered by hundreds of bands. And in that goth metal crowd, "I'm Not Jesus" has been covered. It's really cool to hear your shit done by these metal bands. I love it. Behemoth did "I'm Not Jesus." Did you ever hear that?

Who did it?



Yeah, I just went to L.A. when they were here two months ago and met them up here. Just look it up on YouTube - "Behemoth 'I'm Not Jesus.'" It's total metal, really cool.

What was the idea behind that song when you wrote it?

"I'm Not Jesus," what was that about.... I guess it's basically, I don't know, about people always leaning on you and bugging you. You know, the line is "I'm not Jesus, I can't heal you." And just getting annoyed. Explaining that I don't look like Jesus, I can't fix your world, you know what I'm saying? People asking for too much.

When you recorded "Smash You" and "Can't Say Anything Nice," were those specifically recorded for the singles or were they outtakes from the albums?

No, those were recorded - we recorded like 16 and then put on what we could. "Smash You" and "You Can't Say Anything Nice" -- what happened with that was because of Johnny. On the last American album, I had two songs. On the first two, I only had one. Because I wrote these 100% and that may affect his pocketbook. So I was limited to one song. And I would write four or five. Management liked them, Joey liked them -- they loved them. I could've had at least four on each album, but Johnny wouldn't allow it because he wouldn't get paid. So, go back to that story. So what happened is Martin, the owner of Beggars Banquet at the time, heard "Smash You" from the second album - was it the second album? Or the first album - the first album, with Tommy. And he said, "Oh, I want that on the UK version and the European version." So that song went on their album - Beggars Banquet.

Oh, it did!? I didn't know that!

And then the next album, "Can't Say Anything Nice" -- he took that one. He always took the song we didn't use and put it on; he loved it. And finally the third album i did, he gave me two songs.

Did you guys record any of the other ones that you wrote?


Wow. Are there any more -- like I know when that Too Tough To Die remastered CD came out, it had a bunch of demos. Were there extra songs from your other two albums too?

There's tons of songs. There's tons of songs.


Well, the Tommy album, the "Smash You" album, Joey was in the hospital while we were in the studio, so I sang every song on that record. I just talked to him the other day. He has all those recordings, but they won't release them because I'd make more money. You know, it's all crazy. But I sang "Chasing The Night" and a lot of good stuff, just so we could rehearse in the studio. It's hard to play a Ramones song without singing. It's three chords; you can't even count without somebody singing. So it was me, playing drums and singing. Just so everybody knew where they were in the song.

Were there more outtakes from Animal Boy and Halfway To Sanity?

I'm sure there's always some. I can't really remember, but I'm sure there's definitely some out there.

Was Johnny always mean like that to you? Or was it just a money thing?

It was just a weird thing. He did it to everybody. It's just the way he was. He always wanted to be the one in control, so that was what he did. That was his thing.

Did you get along with Dee Dee at all?

Oh yeah, we were good friends. And I hung out with Joey every night for years. And Dee Dee would come over and write; he started all that rap stuff in my apartment in Manhattan. Then he finally did an album after I left.

Did you work with him at all after he left the band?

Dee Dee? No. The last thing I did with Dee Dee was that "Funky Man" video. But I have a bunch of demos of his in my apartment on 8-track, which are really cool.

More of the rap stuff?


Oh wow.

I don't know if that'll ever be released. It's very complicated, with lawyers and all this.

Yeah. Did you speak with any of those guys after you left the band?

Not for a long time. I think I talked to them after about ten years. Then I talked to Mickey and that's how I went to that first Bash in 2006. So yeah, at least ten years.

Why did you -- I know that the money thing was an issue, but was there some final straw that made you leave the band when you did?

I don't know. I got an anonymous call or whatever that said, "Be careful because after those two shows, they're gonna fire you anyway." So I quit. But who knows if that was even true. But I think about had I stayed, I still would've only been allowed one or two songs per album. It's a Catch 22. But I made my decision, and that's it. So I rested up and now I'm ready.

So what do you think about the three Ramones albums you played on? What's your opinion of them?

I think they had a lot of good stuff. And they sounded totally different from every other Ramones album. There are no albums they did after that that matched up to any of those. You know, when Dee Dee left - that stuff was horrible. When I came in, they got a little energy surge. Joey was all happy and energized. And that's how it went. But I'm good about it. They did a lot for me, and I have that name forever, which is important.

Cool. So why did you decide on "West Side Story"?

It's tough and angry music, and it's about teenage rebellion. You don't have to have rock and roll to have great parts in music. "West Side Story" you can have the music without anybody singing it, and everybody knows it.

What kind of audiences were you getting for those shows?

Varied. It wasn't Ramones people. I expected a few, maybe two or three diehards would come out so I could sign their junk, but no, it was either yuppie 60-year-olds from Pasadena -- so it was like these people in their '60s, so it was a throwback to them to the Gene Krupa/Buddy Rich drum god era. That's what they loved about it. They went nuts. I mean, it's not really done. At the end of the night, my piece closes and my drums are wheeled out on the riser, and people are gasping. There was this one violin player who walked off the first three nights. The first two nights he wouldn't play, because he thought it was too gauche to play with the drums in front. But after all those standing ovations, he finally stayed and played. Yeah, it was like "Whoa!" You're right in the front of the stage; you look over your left shoulder and the conductor's right there. It's really amazing driving a 90-piece orchestra. The ultimate in drumming.

What orchestra is it?

That one was the Pasadena Pops. And then the one in Utah was the Utah Symphony. What's cool about it is you have the score, the score goes out, you send the parts - like you send the violin parts out so everybody bows them together so the bow and violin goes the same way up and down. So they write all that in, you show up, you do one rehearsal, you do one to three nights, and you're on your way. No headaches, no nothing. Usually you do one - I think one time I did two rehearsals, but usually it's one rehearsal. You don't have to deal with anything. It's all right there. Then the librarian sends your parts back home. If something got ripped, you just reprint it. We've got some really cool ideas, and I think it's gonna work. But I'm doing some rock stuff right now.

Is it rock stuff you can talk about?

I got new stuff I wrote, and I'm gonna be putting a band together, and go to South America. But if I'm gonna do it, I want it to be right; I don't want it to be a Ramones cover band like Marky and CJ are doing. I just did the shows in South America with Mickey because he's Joey's brother, and he was doing this thing for Joey Ramone Place. But those were great shows. The kids loved having us there.

So were you playing your drum set?

Also singing. Down there, I came out and played three or four songs with their drummer, and then I took over the drums. You know, there was a long period after the Ramones where I wasn't drumming anymore, so it's great to be back in action.

Did it take you a long time to get readjusted?

A few months of drills. It's like riding a bike; I picked it all back up pretty quickly.

Did you miss drumming?

Not in the beginning, no. Not for years and years. But then I started feeling like if you have a talent, you should share it, you know what I'm saying? And I missed that release. I needed that release again.

That's great. Okay, well thank you for taking the time to speak with me. I really appreciate that.

Alright cool.

I'll let you go.

Thank you so much.

Okay, bye.

Reader Comments
Nice, It's more interesting hearing from the less "famous" Ramones. Richie was also in End of The Century which I enjoyed.

Add your thoughts?

Click here to purchase Ramones CDs galore, for everybody

Head on back to to enjoy interviews with Tommy, Marky and CJ Ramone.