'I Slept With Joey Ramone'I’m currently reading I Slept With Joey Ramone, a memoir written by Joey’s younger brother, Mickey Leigh (nee Mitchel Hyman). As the title indicates, it’s an account of Mickey’s life as the younger brother of one of rock's most famous frontmen.
A lot of the Ramones history will be old news to fans of the band, but what was interesting to me is Mickey’s perspective as both an insider and an outsider. I say outsider because while he was Joey’s brother, he was not inside Joey’s head. Mickey gathers perspectives from friends and family close to Joey, but a couple of chapters seemed lacking in detail that only Joey could have provided. For example, Joey’s two-week stay at St. Vincent Hospital’s psychiatric ward ends with Mickey’s summation, “It was hard to tell how much St. Vincent’s helped [Joey].”
Mickey’s insider perspective stems from his being there from the early days: He was in a band with Johnny Ramone when he was still John Cummings; he was an early roadie for the Ramones; and he observed first hand the animosity between Johnny and Joey that all but destroyed the band.
All the time the Ramones are struggling, Mickey is also working to become a star in his own right, yet he’s always over-shadowed by his older brother. He worked first with legendary rock critic Lester Bangs, and then moved on to form the moderately more successful Rattlers. The Rattlers’ brand of rock was more in the style of the Ramones’ 60s pop-cum-punk style.
Without the constant Ramones comparisons, the Rattlers probably could have been relatively successful. “Joey and I agreed we would never divulge this,” Mickey dead-panned to one interviewer, “but the real reason I started playing in bands was to help my brother and the Ramones get more publicity.”
I was able to find some music from Birdland, the Lester Bangs collaboration, as well as from the Rattlers. The song with Bangs, “I’m In Love With My Walls” is a Mickey Leigh composition that would re-surface on the Rattlers album. “On the Beach” makes clear the genetic link between the Hyman brothers.
I’m In Love With My Walls.mp3
On the Beach.mp3