Interviews > Mickey Leigh Interview 2014
Mickey Leigh 2014
Interview by Athena Schaffer

The 2014 annual Joey Ramone Birthday Bash will be extra special…not only is it commemorating the joyous day when one of our most beloved Rock icons made his debut into this world, it also celebrates the Ramones’ 40th Anniversary – the band who changed the face of the Music industry forever! The Bash is a labor-of-love by Joey’s brother, Mickey Leigh. This year’s Bash will be held May 19 at the Bowery Electric, to allow for a more intimate “up-close-and-personal” setting than in previous years. The venue is located on the corner of the Bowery and Joey Ramone Place, just one block from the location of the original CBGBs. It’s jam-packed with special guests and other surprises – check out the full 411 at crowgrrl.com

Mickey continues to do a wonderful job keeping Joey’s spirit alive – and for his tireless fundraising efforts for Joey Ramone Foundation for Lymphoma Research. Find out more at joeyramone.com

The Crowgrrl recently caught up again with Mickey to find out more about this special event and other news…

Great to talk to you again! I want to thank you for sharing that story of why windchimes were special to you and Joey when we talked about the “Ya Know?” album. (For new readers, check that out at: http://crowgrrl.com/entertainment_source/spotlights/interview-mickey-leigh-may-24-2012) That was really emotional – and my readers and I are grateful that you shared that with us.

Thanks Athena and readers. It really is a beautiful story, and proves that wind chimes are not just for fairies. Although, both my brother and I were recipients of that moniker frequently when growing up. But so were 80% of the other kids.

This year’s Joey Ramone Birthday Bash is extra special – could you let our readers know why?

Being that the Ramones formed in 1974, May 19th 2014 not only marks the day my brother would have turned 63, but also -whether he is here or not- it marks the 40th year Joey Ramone has been alive. Yeah, in many ways he is still very much alive. And, in addition to his music, this event is another way we keep him that way.

Tell us about the contest for the guest spot for a lucky unsigned punk band?

Well, how the contest works is: the winner of the guest spot will be one lucky unsigned band. One lucky unsigned band. We made an announcement on the Joey Ramone Facebook page that any unsigned local NYC band who would like to play at the event should submit a video clip. The lucky band would be picked by our panel of judges, and get to open up the show. It's a cool way to keep up the tradition Joey began of getting exposure for local unsigned bands, and create more work for the "judge." BUT, it was my pleasure.

Tell us more about the Bash’s art contest and how the winner was chosen?

Well, I really don't recall telling you anything at all, yet, but I'll tell you more after I say tell you that, as I began and administrate that page for Joey's fans to gather and share their enthusiasm for one of the greatest voices and most inspiring people that rock 'n roll has ever known. In concert with that, Rock 'n Roll was of the greatest and most inspiring things my brother had ever known. So, the synergy is abounding. And when, one day, I took a look at the art people who visit that page were sharing, I was blown away, and began posting as much of their submissions as possible there. I just thought it was a brilliant idea to have one of Joey's fans to do the artwork for this year’s t-shirts, posters and ads. I was only puzzled about why I was not the person who came up with that brilliant idea. But, it was Anthony, my long time assistant and right hand man, along with Mitchel "bubbles" Keller, in helping me organize this event.

Are you filming or recording the event for possible DVD or CD for those of us who are too far away to actually be there? (Although I know a lot of us, including myself, will be there in spirit)

No, I'm not. Aside from giving a bunch of us, who miss Joey terribly, a distraction from the sad fact that he is not here to celebrate his birthday, my main goal is to raise money for cancer lymphoma research, and hopefully find a way to kill the monster that ate my brother and continues to take so many lives. To film it right, with good quality audio and video would likely cost more than I would raise trying to sell DVD's of the show, as it would be on Youtube by May 29th.

Any new special merch for the Bash? Will it be available for fans to buy if we can’t attend the Bash in person?

Well, there is a really special t-shirt and poster that was designed by a fan on the Joey Ramone Facebook which will be available for purchase at and after the show. 100% of the proceeds from those sales goes first into the Joey Ramone Foundation For Lymphoma Research, which I founded in 2006, until it is all gathered up and donated to the National Foundation. You can find those things, as well as T-shirts and posters from the previous Bashes. Same deal for those = 100% to research.

What’s going on with your New Yorkestra?

It forever remains New, and right after this event is taken care of, I'll say to the guys in my "alright, let's get this Yorkestra tuned up and make some noise!!" But this time I will mean it. I really intend to not take on any more projects - than I have already agreed to- and focus on my own creations. They are very upset with me for neglecting them, as am I, and continually threaten to alert the authorities of my poor parenting. For instance, my guitar was pregnant, and gave birth to several songs I didn't even realize had been born until they woke me out of my sleep and insisted I at least get up and record them my webcam.

What other irons do you have in the fire right now?

I think the fire comes before the irons, and there ain't enough water in this city to put out all the fires I have going. I'm working on two books. One is semi factual story recounting the days we actually used to hitchhike to Rockaway Beach in the mid 60's. It's like and American Graffiti "East" A day in the lives of a bunch of 14 year old kids - the telling of the wild, and often dangerous, adventures we always encountered. I have about 30 really good songs I've written over the past 14 years that I promised myself I would record before it's too late, and I find another batch of Joey's unreleased songs which his fans will lop my head off if I don't get released. I do have fans also, but, right now...his are bigger. After that I plan to look for my iron and put it the fire.

Is there anything I didn’t ask that you’d like to share with our readers?

Without a doubt!

I'm sitting here watching the movie CBGB on one of the movie channels, and I've noticed that any "Ramones" song featured is actually a song from Joey's first solo album... What is the reasoning for this? Some kind of copyright dispute?

Well. I can tell you that you are getting warm. That said, to answer this question would require me to clear my answers with not only my attorney, but Linda's former manager and attorney. It could cost me upwards of $2-$3,000. But, it will be worth it. This is the first time I've ever said of this publicly. As I was told by the producers, the manager Linda Cummings Ramone had procured - who's name sounds very much like "John Cafiero" when translated into English- was demanding from the producers an amount of money far above what the other bands, such as Blondie, Talking Heads, Television etc , had agreed to. He was also insisting that the John Cummings Family "Trust" have approval over the actor chosen to play Johnny as well as his lines. Additionally, he wanted a consultant’s fee and credit in the ending reel. Furthermore, he would not sign off on use of the Ramones original masters unless he was provided a private trailer personally designed by John Varvatos. Ok, that last one was a joke. He required that all words he spoke while on the set be personally written by Jon Stewart. Not Jon Stewart the comedian, Jon Stewart the jockey and winner of 6 Kentucky Derby’s. The producers were ambitious, but the budget was very low. They could only offer him "buy one, get one free" coupons for Marky Ramone's "Meatball Legacy" heroes- if his truck passed by after Kraft services closed. I know, it's a sad thing. Ironically (ahhh, there's my iron!) Marky is the person who brought the guy who's name sounds like John Cafiero "into the fold" of Ramones’ World. Yeah, I know it's a sad thought. Stop thinking about it. Try his ice cream pasta sauce instead.