I Slept With Joey Ramone

I Slept With Joey Ramone by Mickey LeighOver the past couple of weeks, I read Mickey Leigh’s I Slept With Joey Ramone. Mickey is Joey’s brother and his story gives Ramones’ legends a dimension that they’ve sorely needed — that inside look at Joey.

Like all Ramones bios, it’s full of tragedy. Leigh doesn’t wallow in the trash-talk but he doesn’t pull any punches either. Johnny is, of course, portrayed as a bully but Leigh talks about Joey’s moodswings and bad behavior just as openly.

One detail that doesn’t get a lot of attention but really stuck in my mind was Leigh’s statement that without the Ramones, Joey might not have been anything, almost literally. It was being in that band that gave him the stability just to survive. Without that structure his OCD and health problems and general social awkwardness might have confined him to life as a shut-in. That fact also paints Johnny’s behavior in a harsher light. When you know how much Joey was suffering, Johnny’s actions cross the line into real compassionless cruelty.

One of my favorite quotes in the book comes when the band is touring with Talking Heads. Someone describes it this way: “The Talking Heads were a band who loved enjoying things and the Ramones were a band who enjoyed hating absolutely everything.” That description right there tells so much of the story. It sounds like a miserable way to spend your life especially when you’re professionally making music.

I’d still like to hear Johnny’s story from the inside.