News & Events I Slept With Joey Ramone : A Book Review

I Slept With Joey Ramone : A Book Review

I’ve been lucky enough to cross paths with the Ramones many times in my journalistic career. I’ve interviewed Joey, Johnny, and Marky for outlets I’ve worked for including Performance Magazine, Amusement Business Magazine, and, Marky for The Crowgrrl’s Perch. I did a story on the first Joey Ramone Birthday Bash for Amusement Business in 2001. And I was at the show at the Bayou in Washington, DC, that was mentioned in the book – the Ramones opened for Blue Oyster Cult… BOC have been like brothers to me since my radio days when I first got into this industry, and they were the ones who introduced me to the raw brilliance of the Ramones!

So, of course, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy of the book I Slept With Joey Ramone written by the person who probably knew Joey best – his younger brother Mickey Leigh (along with the brothers’ long time friend Legs McNeil.) And I was NOT disappointed! Mickey bares his soul to give us the clearest portrait ever of this great musical icon!

This dynamic book is an intimate look at the triumphs and tragedies that defined the lives of both brothers. In reality, this is actually Mickey’s biography although his brother plays a huge part in it. But it does show how Joey ultimately triumphed over overwhelming obstacles to become an icon that defined the Punk genre of music. It’s an incredibly inspiring story!

Actually, the triumph was the result of the strength of the love and bonding between the brothers and their mother Charlotte through their life journey of hardship, courage, loss, and hope. It was not an easy journey, to say the least. And besides their Love, the other constant that got them through was their love of Music.

One thing that makes this book stand out from many of the other music bios on the shelves, we actually see the origins and inspiration for the SONGS themselves! You cannot read this book without the music running through your cranium as well.

Although I was already a Joey fan before picking up the book, I gained a new respect for the man and the hardships he overcame. We all knew about his fight with lymphatic cancer and his frequent foot infections that caused show cancellations. What we didn’t know was the “sacrococygeal teratoma” tumor attached to his spine at birth that threatened his very life from the first breath, and after it was removed still caused spina bifida problems. And he also had a lifelong battle with OCD! Any one of those problems might have caused a lesser person to give up, not live Life to the fullest, but Joey had the inner strength to fight back and become an Icon, still loved and respected by an army of fans, including musicians he inspired and other industry insiders!

As I got closer and closer to the book’s back cover, I started feeling pangs of dread at the inevitable and tragic ending. The world surely lost a great talent and remarkable individual on that fateful day in April, 2001 – how a brave battle against lymphatic cancer was lost just a month before Joey’s 50th birthday. And I’m sure it must’ve been harder for the author to write than readers trying to see the page through tears.

Although the family lived in Manhattan, Forest Hills, Queens, and Greenwich Village, Mickey gave the Big Apple an almost “small town” feel, as the founding members of The Ramones knew each other pretty much since they were kids. It’s a fascinating look to see their development in music, and how they ultimately evolved into the pioneers who created a genre (and many subgenres that came afterwards). There’s no denying The Ramones changed the face of music forever!

The Crowgrrl highly recommends this book! It’s dynamic, powerful, inspirational, and at times bittersweet. Gabba Gabba HEY!

~Athena Schaffer