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The inside story on Joey Ramone

January 28, 2010 |  2:20 pm

In "I Slept With Joey Ramone," Mickey Leigh, Joey Ramone's little brother, tells the story of the punk rock star as no one else could. From our review, in today's pages:

"I Slept With Joey Ramone" combines a close-up look at Joey with an authoritative history of the band. Signed to Sire Records, the Ramones never had a breakthrough radio hit, yet now they're heard on radio all the time. Johnny's influence waned as Joey's rose, but the band remained remarkably consistent all the same.

This was a blessing and a curse: Depending on when you came in, the Ramones were either the raw 1-2-3-4 of street punk or tired, uninteresting punk goonery. Regardless, history has been kind to their legacy, burnishing their early records while brushing away the self-rehashes.

Leigh, a musician who never had Joey's luck, has learned how to wield a pen. In the book, he goes back to their childhood, showing the trouble Joey (then known as Jeff) had with bullies at school and revealing his severe obsessive-compulsive disorder. He knows the music, too, and was on the scene -- he gets some help from Legs McNeil, a master of interviewing surviving punk rockers.

Full disclosure: It was me who wrote the review. The one thing I couldn't put in it is what made Joey Ramone so interesting in the first place -- but that's what the Internet is for. Above, he fronts the Ramones performing "Teenage Lobotomy."

-- Carolyn Kellogg

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