I found this story suggested by a friend:

I met Joey Ramone through Legs McNeil. It was March 1986. Legs and I were both at Spin magazine. Joey was in the hospital having foot surgery. So Legs says, “Annette, you’re a Ramones fan. Here’s Joey’s number. Call him. He’s driving me nuts.”

I said, “Sure,” but then I thought, Maybe not. Of course, I was a fan and Joey was, well, even then he was a legend. But Joey was famously difficult. I knew that Legs once wrote in Punk magazine that Joey was the future of rock ‘n’ roll but he couldn’t find his sneakers. Much as you might think a rockstar would love that, Joey didn’t. He didn’t talk to Legs for a year.

Plus, I had my own issues. It was just around that time that I’d begun to realize a lot of people didn’t like rock journalists and many of them were the ones we put in our magazine. That same week, Johnny Thunders told me off in the VIP room of the Limelight. Johnny didn’t like the article I wrote about him for Spin. No idea why but there we were, him hanging on to the couch, calling me names and slurring his words and me melting into the wall. The other VIPs stared at me contemptuously while my date ran for the door.

Several days later I did call Joey. The first thing he said was that he really liked my Thunders article. I didn’t think, Sure he does. It’s not about him. I was so stressed I blurted out the whole humiliating incident, including the part where Johnny called me a “fat, ugly, bleached-blonde groupie” in front of all those people. “My boyfriend was embarrassed and ran away,” I said, almost sobbing. “That was five days ago. I haven’t heard a word from him since.”

On the other end of the phone, dead silence. And then Joey said, “Ah, fuck him, Annette, ya know? Fuck Thunders. The only reason anyone goes to his shows anymore is ’cause they think he’s gonna die.”

Did I feel relieved? Grateful? It was Just So Huge. The next day I visited him in the hospital. I went often after that. When I wasn’t there we’d talk on the phone. By the time he was released, a few weeks later, we were almost best friends.

Today that sounds like a very big deal, because now the Ramones are a big deal, with more than two million albums sold in the aftermath of Joey’s death in 2001. They got the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and Rolling Stone proclaimed them to be one of the most influential bands in history, second only to the Beatles.

But there was no trick to this in 1986. Joey was accessible. All you had to do was dial his phone.

In some ways, being Joey’s friend was easy: I was a true fan. I knew what to say. So the first time we went out and got drunk I put my head on the table and slurred, “Joey, I don’t get it. The Ramones should be the most successful band in the world.” I meant it then and I mean it now. In a fair world, a lot of their songs should have been multiplatinum hits. No idea what went wrong. The radio stations wouldn’t play the Ramones. Despite the fact that they had a million fans all over the place, the albums never sold more than 100,000 copies. And since I was a music journalist I knew that Halfway to Sanity would be their last major label release. Sire was not renewing their contract. Joey was in a bar band. Legendary with Lower East Side street cred but a bar band just the same.

He shook his head. “Our song was Screamer of the Week last week on WLIR,” he said solemnly. “That was the first time in nine years that I wasn’t bitter.”

Bitter or not, as anyone who knew him can attest, Joey was a blast. He liked stoops and streets and walking around St. Mark’s. This was a big deal to me: He talked to everyone. As a fledgling reporter, I had to learn that, to listen to people without a filter. Otherwise, how does one find one’s articles? So we had conversations with the guy who wore his cat on his head and the kid who wore a white rat on his. Joey even cast the white rat guy in the video for “Something to Believe In.”

Yes, Joey was strange, but Legs had given me a good heads-up about this. “Joey does this thing,” Legs cautioned. “He can’t just walk anywhere. Like, if you’re going up the stairs in the Limelight, Joey will go up three, and then walk back down and repeat it. No telling when he might stop.

“And make sure you have money. He has money but it’s always spilling out of his pockets. Just always pretend none of this is weird to you.”

It played out pretty much as Legs promised. Some nights I’d wait for Joey at Paul’s, the Italian restaurant on the ground floor of his building on Ninth Street that had a jukebox with Ramones songs. Sometimes he never came down, though he’d call the restaurant all night saying he just needed ten more minutes. I’d go upstairs and knock on the door. I’d hear him in the hallway, walking back and forth, but something prevented him from answering.

One afternoon, Dee Dee and I were stuck in a cab in traffic on Joey’s corner. We watched out the window as Joey put his foot in and out of the curb. We laughed but it was sad. He just couldn’t bring himself to cross the street that day. Another time, driving in the Ramones van with my friend fellow Spin writer Robert Keating, we stopped so Joey could buy some girl shoes. He walked back and forth to the door of the shoe store but never went in. Keating was incredulous. “What the hell is he doing?”

We shrugged. Back then, nobody knew what OCD was, much less that Joey suffered from it. Even if we had, this was Joey’s business, end of conversation. Still, it wasn’t all just running around the Lower East Side, going to clubs and hanging out at Manic Panic.

I began to pull away from Joey once I married Richie. This was normal, I think. I became one of the wives rather than one of the guys. I bonded with Dee Dee’s wife, Vera Ramone, and even more with Joey’s girlfriend, Angela Ramone. I never used Ramone. I was happy enough being Stark. Also, I figured it kind of bothered Joey to have any more women Ramones. I mean, where would it end? It was kind of like how the British monarchy doesn’t want a lot of divorcees calling themselves the Queen.

So no problem there. But as I got closer to Angela I learned that Joey treated her cruelly. He beat her. He threw her down the stairs and broke her nose. When I finally got up the courage to ask him, he didn’t deny it. “It was an accident,” he said. Pause. “I talked to my shrink about it and he said I just haven’t met the right woman yet.”

From that point on, I saw Joey as Richie’s employer rather than my best friend. And while it’s been written that we parted ways when Richie quit the band, truthfully it was over for me the moment he admitted he hit her. So when Angela called me a month later, screaming that he was outside banging on her door, threatening to break it, I heard him banging and shouting. I called the police.

Angela said later that the police stood outside Joey’s door (their apartments were next to each other), calling him out and singing “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School.” “Joey Ramone,” one cop said, “come outside again and we’re gonna lock you up.”

That night, I made up my mind to get her away from him for good. So I was the one who introduced Angela to another boy. I even helped her move out.

To Angela’s great credit, she never told Joey that I was the one who called the police. That was a relief. Richie would have been fired on the spot. But when Richie decided to quit I thought, Why not? What did I feel? I was a bride whose husband had just quit his job. On the other hand, I was relieved. We moved to LA. The dysfunctional in-laws were now 3,000 miles away.

Years later, Angela told Ramones road manager Monte Melnick that I was the one who called the police on Joey. Monte called to ask me if he could put that in his book but I refused to confirm it. When Joey’s brother, Mickey Leigh, and Legs McNeil wrote I Slept With Joey Ramone, as glad as I was that they were clearing up a lot of myths, good and bad, about Joey, I still told them I preferred they didn’t use this story. But when my longtime editor Eric Newill asked me to write about Joey for his birthday, I thought, Three choices: Don’t write it at all, write the half truth—the one fun joy-ride-on-the-tour-bus story—or tell the whole truth.

I was at The Source magazine in 2000 when I got a credible leak that Joey Ramone was seriously ill. I didn’t run the item but I didn’t look for him, either. Everyone who had felt hurt by Joey had long ago forgiven him. He got sober and I understand he was a wonderful friend to Angela till the end of his life.

Joey Ramone would have been 62 years old yesterday. It was recognized around the world. I’m glad his loving family—his mother, the late Charlotte Lesher and Mickey Leigh—continued the tradition of celebrating Joey’s birthday. Joey loved his birthdays and he loved yours. If you couldn’t find anyone else to celebrate with you, he was that guy. For me, I Slept With Joey Ramone cleared up many questions about who Joey was and what it was like to be close to him. The only question left that has no answer is: Had Joey gotten all those accolades in his lifetime, how much of this story changes and how much remains the same?

Source: DoYouRemember

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2 Responses so far.

  1. I wamt to to thank you for this onderful read!! I absolutely enjoyed every bit of it.
    I have you book markked to check outt new things you post…

  2. ask says:

    Having read this I thought it was very informative.
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