I Slept With Joey Ramone

Posted in Book Reports, History, Library of Congress, Music by chamblee54 on October 27, 2018

I Slept with Joey Ramone is the story of a six foot five geek, who was only good for singing gabba gabba hey. Jeffrey Ross Hyman had issues. Aside from his goofy appearance, Jeff had severe OCD. He would injure his foot bad enough to require several hospitalizations. Somehow, Jeff got to play in some bands, going glitter as Jeff Starship. Eventually, Jeff Hyman, John Cummins, Douglas Colvin, and Tommy Erdelyi becam Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee, and Tommy Ramone.

ISWJR was written by Mitchel Lee Hyman, Jeff’s younger brother. His stage name was Mickey Leigh. Mickey was the first roadie for the Ramones, and will always be in his brother’s shadow. The two had an intense relationship. Jeff and Mitch went from being best friends to mortal enemies. This sibling rivalry is a key part of the story. The book, despite the commercial title, is about Mickey as much as Joey. The subtitle is “A punk rock family memoir.”

The co-author is Legs McNeil, who assembled Please Kill Me. ISWJR is told through Mickey’s eyes. It is uncertain what role Mr. McNeil played. Some say that Mickey Leigh could not type a page of text if his life depended on it.

Please Kill Me was an “oral history of punk rock,” meaning they taped a bunch of people talking. Mickey was one of the talkers, and Joey was not happy with what Mickey said. Another voice tells about Dee Dee Ramone falling on the sidewalk outside CBGB. Dee Dee said it was not a good idea to get hit in the head when you were drinking… it might cause brain damage. That is not an exact quote. Dee Dee Ramone did not “just say no.”

The Ramones had their fifteen minutes last for twenty years. They went down to the Bowery, and found this bar called CBGB’s. The owner kept his dog inside, and dog shit was everywhere. The Ramones got a following, a record contract, did tours, recorded albums, became sort of famous, started a movement (other than the bar dog’s bowels,) but never had a hit record. This lack of commercial success was highly annoying.

The first taste of big money was Budweiser using “Blitzkrieg Bop” in a commercial. Mickey played an uncredited part in the song. When the Budweiser money started to roll in, Mickey was struggling to pay the rent. Mickey tried to get some money out of the band, which refused. This caused many years of Joey and Mickey not speaking.

For a while the boys in the band (pun intended, at least for Dee Dee) were pals. Then Joey had a girlfriend, Linda. Johnny stole Linda from Joey. Johnny and Joey hated each other from then on. Johnny was always a bit of an asshole, as was Joey. At some point, Tommy had enough, and was replaced by Marky. He drank his way out of the job, and was replaced by Richie.

In 1983, The Ramones played at the Agora Ballroom in Atlanta. PG was in the audience. By this time, the Ramones had been going on for nine years. They was not the next big thing anymore. Somebody played a tape of cheezy Coney Island music, and the band came on stage. Joey hunched over the microphone, tapped himself on the head with a baseball bat, and the band did “Beat on the brat.” The band went through the motions, playing another show, probably identical to every other Ramones show ever played. Punk rock just was not trendy anymore.

It was an all ages show. If you wanted to drink, you had to go up to the balcony. You were on your own going down the stairs. Downstairs was full of young people, many is costume, having a hot time. The balcony was the same rock and roll drunks that were at every show ever produced.

ISWJR does not have a happy ending. Joey had health problems throughout his life. Being a drunken-coke-freak rock star did not help. He came down with Lymphoma, and was starting to do ok. Then, Joey fell and broke his hip, and they had to adjust his medication. Soon, the cancer was back with a vengeance. Joey and Mickey called a truce to their squabbling before Joey died April 15, 2001. Dee Dee and Johnny quickly followed. The Ramones would have been a great oldies band, if only.

Pictures today are from The Library of Congress.

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  1. A Natural Woman: A Memoir | Chamblee54 said, on January 17, 2019 at 1:43 pm

    […] at a friends-of-the-library book sale. ANWAM is the last book. The first three were Post Office, I Slept With Joey Ramone, and Bastard Out Of Carolina. It is probably back to the library for reading material now. Pictures […]

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