“To permit defendants alone to tell the authoritative story of the Ramones would be an injustice to the band and its legacy.” Johnny Ramone’s widow files lawsuit over Joey Ramone movie plans

Ramones onstage in December 1978
(Image credit: Howard Barlow/Redferns)

Famously, there was never any love lost between Ramones frontman Joey Ramone and guitarist Johnny Ramone, and that long-simmering tension seems to have out-lived both men, as the guitarist's estate has now filed a lawsuit over a planned Joey Ramone biopic, which it argues will be "one-sided" and "an injustice to the band and its legacy."

On April 15, 2021 - the 20th anniversary of Joey Ramone's death - Netflix announced that it would be making a biopic of the singer based upon the 2009 memoir I Slept With Joey Ramone, written by Joey's brother, Mickey Leigh (Mitchel Hyman). The film is to star comedian Pete Davidson as Joey Ramone (real name Jeffrey Ross Hyman), and is being adapted for the screen by Davidson and director Jason Orley: the planned biopic was hailed as "a universal story of family".

Adam Fogelson, the Chairman of STXfilms Motion Picture Group, said at the tme: "When you share a bed with someone – and not just a bed, but a childhood, a family, and a lifetime – you know that person better than anybody else. Mickey Leigh not only collaborated with his big brother's band – he has irreplaceable memories of and insights into Joey Ramone, having supported him when no one else would and witnessed him overcome adversity in the most dramatic way."

But, as reported by music industry bible Billboard, in a lawsuit filed on January 21 in a Manhattan court, Johnny Ramone's estate, managed by his wife Linda, claims the biopic will be "unapproved and unauthorized”, and will offer a "one-sided recitation of the history of the Ramones."

"Ms. Ramone objects to defendants’ attempt to create a Ramones film without her involvement — not to be obstinate, but rather based on defendants’ disregard for [Ramones] assets and their conduct and treatment of Ms. Ramone and her late husband," Linda Ramones' lawyers state. "To permit defendants alone to tell the authoritative story of the Ramones would be an injustice to the band and its legacy."

As the executors of Johnny and Joey’s respective estates, Linda Ramone and Mickey Leigh each own half of Ramones Productions Inc.

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.