Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I slept With Joey Ramone
A Family Memoir
Mickey Leigh with Legs McNeil
Touchstone 2009

This wonderful, sweet, poignant, loving and, at times, funny memoir is written by Joey Ramone’s younger brother, Mickey, with help from Legs McNeil. It is the story of two brothers, told with much love, even when Mickey was estranged from his brother.

Jeffery Hyman, Joey’s real name, grew up in Queens. He and his brother found salvation in music, a way of making sense of their world. Since this was the 60s, the brothers became hippies. Jeffery even went to Woodstock.

Mickey recounts Jeffery’s childhood and young adulthood with both sadness and affection. He tried to help his brother as much as he could, all the while making a life for himself.

The Ramones’ rise to icon status is told from Mickey’s the point of view, including how Johnny, Tommy and Dee Dee joined the band. The band was in the right place at the right time, just the way New York punk rock was, and while Joey was an unlikely frontman, he was unmistakable, for his size, glasses, and voice. Mickey also played with Lester Bangs in Birdland and his own bands including The Rattlers, and STOP.

Joey’s diagnoses of lymphoma is the most heartbreaking part of the book., and how he deals with it. Mickey is a great writer--sharp, clear, direct, handling even the most delicate and disturbing events with ease and grace. Reading this book is to read about the man behind the icon. It celebrate Joey’s accomplishments, personal and musical, and mourns his passing. It is a must read for Ramones fans, and for anyone who ever loved rock and roll.

Andrea Weiss


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