A Punk Rock Family Memoir
By Mickey Leigh with Legs McNeil
When the Ramones recorded their debut album in 1976, it heralded the true birth of punk rock. Unforgettable front man Joey Ramone gave voice to the disaffected youth of the seventies and eighties, and the band influenced the counterculture for decades to come. With honesty, humor, and grace, Joey’s brother, Mickey Leigh, shares a fascinating, intimate look at the turbulent life of one of America’s greatest—and unlikeliest—music icons. While the music lives on for new generations to discovery, I Slept with Joey Ramone is the enduring portrait of a man who struggled to find his voice and of the brother who loved him.
|Photo by Deborah Feingold|
Now, the title of this book is a bit misleading. Mickey Leigh is actually Joey Ramone’s little brother and, yeah, he slept with him but not in the way you probably thought. I sure had different ideas when I picked up this book.
As a longtime Ramones fan, I was excited about this book. Mickey takes us on the journey of Mitch and Jeff Hyman who later become Mickey Leigh and Joey Ramone, respectively. My heart strings were immediately pulled reading this story. Jeff aka Joey was tall, gangly, awkward and the target of every bully in the neighborhood growing up. It’s no wonder he became the poster child for everyone who felt like they didn’t quite fit in, myself included. He defied the odds and became one of the most respected musicians in the rock industry.
The relationship between the two brothers was strained at times but the love was always there. Mickey gives us a glimpse into the intense obsessive compulsive disorder and paranoia that Joey lived with long before anyone had labeled this as a disease. I was completely entranced from beginning to end and cried my eyes out on the last page. This is a gritty and realistic portrayal of Joey from birth all the way to his last day, when he succumbed to lymphoma and left an empty spot in this world.
Joey was a fascinating and talented musician, friend and brother. I wish I had had the opportunity to know him personally. This book made me feel as if I did. It left me as more than a fan of the Ramones, it left me a fan of Jeff Hyman as well. Pick it up and give it a try. You, too, should sleep with Joey Ramone.
One of my favorite songs from Joey's solo work is "Waiting for that Railroad."
Check out Joey Ramone's posthumously released album"...Ya Know?" and his classic music as lead singer of the Ramones.