I Slept with Joey Ramone: A Family MemoirAuthor: Mickey Leigh with Legs McNeil
Review by Jeff Muendel on March 11, 2010 at 7:26 pm
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Although the title of this book suggests a sexual connotation, it is offered in humor. It is written by Joey Ramone’s brother, Mickey Leigh Hyman, and the title refers to the protection his brother offered him growing up. Born Jeffrey Hyman in Queens, New York, Joey Ramone was the tall, quirky lead singer of The Ramones. Often, when young Mickey was scared, his older brother (the future Joey Ramone) would let him sleep in his bed with him. When the Ramones released their debut album in 1976, it ushered in punk rock as a complete artistic entity. The Ramones, fast, ugly, and draped in leather, spoke to the angry youth of the seventies and inspired future bands for decades to come.
This is actually a very sensitive loving book, but includes a frank look at the ugly side of rock ‘n’ roll. With humor and grace, the author shares a troubled story of growing up with an emotionally disturbed brother who becomes a rock star. Joey used rock music to cope with mental illness and in the process launched a punk movement alongside bands like The Talking Heads and Blondie. It was these bands that brought punk to England, influencing the Sex Pistols and changing music history. But regardless of the larger picture, this book’s primary focus is the portrayal of two men who are not unlike Vincent and Theo Van Gogh: an artist who struggled to find his voice while keeping his sanity, and a brother who loved and cared for that artist.