RAMONES Family, Friends Feuding Over Joey's Birthday Bash

The following article originally appeared in today's edition of the New York Post:

Joey Ramone's mother and brother are blasting friends and former bandmates of the late punk legend for staging a birthday bash the same night as a family fete in his honor.

Joey's brother, Mickey Leigh, and mother, Charlotte Lesher, are throwing a party May 19 at the Bowery Ballroom. They're rankled that RAMONES "creative director" Arturo Vega (who designed the band's logo and was lighting director at all of their shows) and former bandmates Tommy Ramone, Marky Ramone and CJ Ramone are planning a Joey party the same night at CBGB.

"Arturo has been telling people that he was Joey's real family, not us," Leigh fumed to PAGE SIX. "And now he's staging another show to undermine the family's efforts."

Vega, who runs the official RAMONES web site, says he is shocked by Leigh's accusations. "I really don't understand it," he tells us. "But I'm sorry they feel that way. It's for Joey, and they should rejoice that people still care so much about him."

Feuds among the RAMONES are as expected as the band's signature shouted song intros of "1-2-3-4!" Guitarist Johnny Ramone had a long-running feud with Joey, which the two often aired on Howard Stern's radio show, and never spoke to him even when Joey, who died last year, was suffering from lymphoma. There's also bad blood between Johnny and the group's former bassist Dee Dee Ramone, who left in 1989.

But the latest RAMONES row should be a feast for the band's devoted fans. Last year, the birthday bash thrown by Leigh and emceed by Steven Van Zandt featured performances by BLONDIE, CHEAP TRICK and THE DAMNED, and taped testimonials from Chris Isaak, Paul Westerberg, Joan Jett, METALLICA, ANTHRAX, THE DICTATORS and GREEN DAY.

Leigh promises that this year's lineup will be even more star-studded, and says all proceeds will go to the Lymphoma Research Foundation.

Still, last year's bash bore hints of the rancor to come: Johnny and Dee Dee both declined to attend, and Leigh and Vega squabbled over a planned RAMONES reunion with guest vocalists.

"They wanted Rob Zombie and Eddie Vedder to sing in his place," Leigh says, "But my mother wasn't ready to see someone take Joey's place yet."

Meanwhile, Vega's party at CBGB will feature a contest in which one lucky fan will get to perform his or her tribute song to Joey and the RAMONES. The song will be included as the B-Side of "The Bowery Electric", a Joey tribute number performed by "Joey's Musical Family," Vega, Tommy, Marky and CJ Ramone and former RAMONES producer Daniel Rey. Those interested in entering the songwriting contest should go to Web site officialramones.com.

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