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I Slept with Joey Ramone: A Family Memoir Hardcover – December 1, 2009

4.1 out of 5 stars 119 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Singer-songwriter Joey Ramone, who cofounded the rock group the Ramones in 1974, died of lymphatic cancer at age 49 in 2001. Born Jeff Hyman in Manhattan, he grew up in Forest Hills, Queens, with low self-esteem and what is described as an obsessive compulsive disorder, but he soon escaped to Greenwich Village, where he became a punk pioneer. Commercial success was elusive. While the Ramones remained an underground band, they are regarded today as a huge influence on the entire punk rock movement. Joey's brother, Mickey Leigh (who formed his own band), recreates that electric era, striking all the right chords in this dynamic biography. With skillful writing, he finds Joey's musical roots in their dysfunctional family life. As they attempted to deal with their mother's divorce and remarriage, the accidental death of their stepfather, financial worries and neighborhood bullies, their interest in rock, drugs and far-out fashions escalated. With angst-ridden anecdotes, the book traces the trajectory of the Ramones over two decades, from early gigs and recording sessions through sibling rivalry, feuds, fights, eccentric escapades and 2,000-plus performances before they disbanded in 1996. Leigh and Legs's mashup of memories with solid research makes for revelatory reading in this compelling portrait of a musical misfit who evolved into a countercultural icon. (Dec. 1)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Leigh (né Mitch Hyman) offers an insider’s perspective on the household in which brother Jeffrey grew up and of Jeffrey’s subsequent exploits in the Ramones (Jeffrey was Joey). Of recording with Phil Spector, Joey observed, “Phil would make us run through the song a thousand times . . . and then he’d get drunk,” start “stomping the floor, cursing . . . and that would be the end of the session.” As for Joey’s contentious relationship with tough-guy guitarist Johnny Ramone, Leigh quotes drummer Tommy Ramone: “Johnny liked Joey—as much as Johnny liked anybody,” which says much about the band’s inner workings. Leigh illuminates Joey’s mental health problems with his own memories, providing context for the struggle it was for Joey to assert himself. Eventually, Joey became the most quotable Ramone and the lyricist of such anthems as “I Wanna Be Sedated” and “The KKK Took My Baby Away.” Adding the “first person accounts” of “family, friends, colleagues, and industry professionals” to his own testimony, Leigh makes an essential addition to the Ramones files. --Mike Tribby

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; First Edition ~1st Printing edition (December 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743252160
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743252164
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (119 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,005,300 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on January 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I will preface this review by saying I am not what you would call a huge Ramones fan. I know their music well and appreciate their tremendous influence on subsequent acts but I am by no means a fanatic. As such, this is the first full-length book I have read on the band or a member of the band, though I know there is much out there. One of the main reasons I decided to read this book was to hear firsthand of their role in the birth of punk in the '70s. I had read Legs McNeil's book on the history of punk and seen many documentaries that highlight the Ramones importance in this respect. I, however, came to know the Ramones long after the release of _Rock 'n' Roll High School_ and mediocre record after mediocre record. I wanted to experience and learn about the impact the early Ramones had on the music scene and the lasting influence of that impact. Mickey Leigh (and co-author Legs McNeil) do not disappoint in this respect. They do an excellent job of capturing the excitement of how Joey Ramone and his band built on the sound of the New York Dolls and Iggy and the Stooges to become the first true punk band. However, many before them have done this well.

One reason why I enjoy reading biographies of musicians is to get insight into the musician in their formative years, to find out what it is that inspired them. That is the second reason I decided to read this book. I figured Joey Ramone's brother could provide unique insight into what made Joey Ramone and the Ramones who they were. Again, here he did not disappoint. In fact, I would argue that the strongest part of this book are the scenes of Joey and Mickey (their names were actually Jeffrey and Mitchell Hyman then) growing up in the Forest Hills area of Queens.
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I was in the music scene at the time much of this book takes place, but far removed from the New York scene. As a result I've met many of the people in Mitch's book, but wouldn't push the envelope by calling them close personal friends. It was a time when all of us spent a lot of time frying our brains and convincing ourselves that what we were doing really mattered.

Mitch captures that atmosphere well in the first half of the book but seems to lose touch with the realities of it as his story progresses. I was both eager and a bit fearful as I approached this book because I didn't know Mickey's motives. I watched Richard Carpenter, for example, spend years trying to make a buck off of his sister Karen's death - even going so far as to change up lyrics and sing songs like, "She'd only just begun.... to live." I hoped that Mickey hadn't started down that sickening path.

The good news is that for the most part, he never gives the reader a sense that this is an attempt to bankroll his brother's notoriety. The bad news is that he does waste a lot of time trying to rewrite history in order to paint himself in a better light - at the expense of Joey's (Jeff's) reputation.

I saw the Ramones a number of times and in fact was backstage (if you could call the open area a "backstage" at all) at the show he mentions at Frolics up in Salisbury, Mass. The tension between Johnny and Joey was obvious and their respective entourages quickly seperated into camps on opposite sides of the room. The problem with this book is that while it is very detailed and honest about some aspects of the band, there are huge gaps and outright falsehoods as well.

The first half of the book does a great job in describing how the core band came together.
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This book is a wonderful insight into the birth of punk music, and as a fan of both the punk genre and the Ramones specifically, it was a very intimate look inside for me, and I loved it for that. It is well worth the read for the historical value alone.

More than that though, it introduced me to a person I never knew - Jeff Hyman. I was a pool of tears at the end of the book, which concludes with Joey Ramone's passing. By this point though, I was no longer thinking of him as "Joey Ramone", but as Jeff - a man who suffered from birth to death with one ailment or another, of one type or another, whether it be physical, emotional or mental.

After reading the book, I almost felt dirty thinking of him as anything other than Jeff. I still love the Ramone's for their music and what they did historically in music, but my heart breaks for the man who was Jeff Hyman. I just wanted to make his hurting stop and make all the pain go away.

Mickey, thank you for introducing us to your brother and your family. I'll never look at "Joey" the same way again.
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Format: Paperback
*The Crowgrrl has a confession to make - I've always had a huge crush on Joey Ramone. I've always loved The Ramones' music, and even have collectibles such as The Ramones shot glasses and there's a Joey Ramone doll in my office.. Hearing Joey's distinct voice from the CD speakers or even unexpectedly on the radio always brings a smile to my face.

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.) (Touchstone Books/Simon & Schuster) 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!
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