Musician/author Mickey Leigh was born in 1954 and raised in the Queens neighborhood of Forest Hills, New York City. His career as a guitarist/vocalist/songwriter began in the 5th grade at the age of 10 when he formed his first band, The Overdose Of Sound. He was 12 when he recorded his first studio record with his second band, Purple Majesty (with his older brother Jeff acting as producer), and began playing shows in clubs in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. By the age of 14, Mickey was playing in a band and recording with 21 year old musicians John Cummings, and Tommy Erdelyi. (John, Tommy, neighbor Doug Colvin, and Mickey’s remarkably talented older brother Jeff, were later to become Johnny, Tommy, and Joey Ramone, after forming the world famous Ramones).
As a musician in the 1970’s through the 1990’s his bands became known for music described by reviewers as neo-garage punk incorporating elements of jazz, country and pop. In 1977, Mickey and world renowned rock journalist Lester Bangs formed a band called Birdland. They were soon headlining shows regularly at CBGB, as well as other famed NYC clubs like Max’s Kansas City, Mudd Club, Hurrah, Tramps, and The Bells of Hell. They recorded nine songs in one night as a demo tape, at Electric Lady Studio, which was finally released in 1986. The album, “Birdland with Lester Bangs”, was hailed by Creem magazine as “THE best rock ‘n’ roll album of 1986 – it’s got Springsteen and Thelonious Monster beat seven ways from Sunday! ”(see reviews)
In 1979 he parted ways with Lester and formed The Rattlers. Journalists Robert Christgau, Legs McNeil, and George Tabb credit The Rattlers as being the garage/pop/punk prototype that paved the way for bands like Green Day. The Rattlers recorded two singles (On the Beach/Livin’ Alone and What Keeps Your Heart Beatin’?/Let’s Move), and in 1985 released the album, RATTLED! (reissued on CD in 1997, along with the two singles, on Bacchus Archives).
RATTLED! was hailed by Robert Christgau as one of the Top 50 albums of 1985 in his annual “A+ List” column in the Village Voice (see reviews). Bridging the musical gap between The Who and The Sex Pistols, The Rattlers album and live shows continued to garner acclaim by the press and their peers alike. From the band’s inception they were invited to play bills in NYC, and on the road, with The Clash, The B52s, The Stranglers, The Buzzcocks, 999, The Plasmatics, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts and countless other legendary bands.
In 1988, after The Rattlers went their separate ways, Mickey formed a band called Crown The Good which got signed to a deal with Epic records, and in 1992 he teamed up briefly with Dictators’ frontman Dick Manitoba to form The Plug Uglies. In 1994 Mickey collaborated with his brother Joey Ramone on their Sibling Rivalry EP titled In a Family Way (released on Jello Biafra’s label, Alternative Tentacles Records). His next band STOP released one CD, Never, on Smut Peddlerz/BOMP Records in 1996. The album was released only in the UK– where the band was invited to play a 2 hour long live broadcast on the Mark Radfliffe show on BBC’s Radio One, which was playing several songs from the CD in heavy rotation. In an article by George Tabb in The New York Press, the headline proclaimed “STOP is The Best Band In Town.” In July 1997 STOP was hailed by Guitar World’s Tom Gogola as “one of the five best punk rock and roll bands in the world.”(see reviews).
Mickey’s writing has appeared in publications such as Coney Island High Times, NY Waste, Audio Reviewand Time Out NY. He was editor and publisher of Coney Island High Times, and his column, My Guitar is Pregnant in NY Waste featured prominently in that publication’s selection for a Best of NY Press award. His first book, I Slept with Joey Ramone (A Family Memoir) will debut in December 2009, published by Touchstone/Simon & Schuster.
Mickey Leigh, who obviously likes to keep very busy, has also worked as a music producer for several NYC bands, and music video director. In 2002 he produced the tracks I Couldn’t Sleep and a revised version of Joey’s song Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight) for a Joey Ramone special limited edition Christmas EP for Sanctuary Records. In 2003 he was tapped by Sanctuary to direct the music video of What a Wonderful World (the single from Joey’s first solo CD titled Don’t Worry About Me, also on Sanctuary Records).
Mickey has also worked as an actor, (SAG), and has appeared in various movies, TV shows and commercials. In addition he has written and sung on several TV and radio commercials.
Since his brother’s death in 2001, he has produced The Joey Ramone Birthday Bash, an annual non-profit NYC event celebrating his brother’s life and work. He is also a founder/chairman of The Joey Ramone Foundation for Lymphoma Research.
Mickey is currently reforming STOP, with plans to reissue the original CD and record a vast amount of material written over the past decade.