I Slept With Joey Ramone: A Family Memoir
Reviewed by Margaret Moser, Fri., Dec. 4, 2009
I Slept with Joey Ramone: A Family Memoirby Mickey Leigh with Legs McNeil
Touchstone, 416 pp., $26
Rock & roll isn't always kind to the families of rock stars. Being the child or spouse of a famous musician is at least as difficult as being the sibling of one, especially one working in the same field. For Mickey Leigh, younger brother of Joey Ramone, kinship was bittersweet and strained with rivalry. Leigh wasn't destined to be an equal, Stevie Ray Vaughan to Jimmie Vaughan. He was Chris Jagger to Mick, a talent in his own right forever consigned to his big brother's shadow. With punk chronicler Legs (Please Kill Me) McNeil, the two coax stories from the remaining Ramones plus an assortment of friends, musicians, ex-wives, and parents, reconstructing Joey's catapult to cult stardom, a story that started beside Leigh then rocketed past him. Leigh was friends with John Cummings and Tommy Erdelyi, aka Johnny and Tommy Ramone, before his brother, and while he benefited from Ramones adventures, his participation led to a demand for compensation and a subsequent lifelong feud between the brothers. With due credit for his musical contributions – Lester Bangs handpicked him for his band Birdland – Leigh's sometimes petty tone makes A Family Memoir come mighty close to being called An Axe to Grind.