THE GREAT MOTHER RAMONE
By Donna Gaines
On Sunday January 29, Charlotte Lesher,
mother of Joey Ramone suffered a heart attack
in her home in Rego Park, Queens home , and passed away.
"Mama Ramone", as Joey called her, was 80 years old, but her
youthful sparkle and lust for life kept her looking and feeling
half her age. Charlotte is survived by her younger son Mickey
Leigh, a first class guitarist on the New York scene.
An artist and bohemian with a diamond wit, razor intellect and a
heart bigger than the ocean, Charlotte was instrumental in
nurturing the talents of the early Ramones. During the 1970's, she
owned a gallery called the Art Garden in Forest Hills. Joey and
Dee Dee practiced in the basement, grew pot plants and sometimes
they slept there, barricaded behind cartons to avoid
detection. After Joey died in 2001, Charlotte and Mickey honored
his memory by hosting an annual birthday bash that would become an
in-gathering of the Post-Ramones Empire, featuring some of old
school and neo-punk's greatest bands.
Charlotte Lesher was instrumental in getting a street sign erected
at Joey Ramone Place on east 2 and Bowery, near the former site of
CBGB's. She had been a passionate and vocal supporter in our
campaign to save CBGB's from closing last year. Charlotte
was a scene matriarch, as beloved by us as the Blessed Mother
herself. Over the years she gathered two generations of
brokenhearted Ramones fans who sent her letters, cards, gifts and
flowers. Charlotte never missed a gig, no matter what time the
band went on--if her sons were playing, she was right there,
turbo-charged, alive and kicking.
Fierce like a lioness
in her devotion to her sons, protective of anyone she loved,
Charlotte was one of the strongest women I've ever known. A
petite, powerful and charismatic presence. Married three times, in
the pre-feminist era when women were expected to be coy,
submissive and cooperative, Charlotte kicked down the doors and
shouted out her own version of "Hey ho, let's go!" Though she
survived the violent death of her beloved husband Hank, a bout
with cancer, and the loss of her firstborn son, Charlotte never
crumbled. I will always remember my sweet, beautiful friend
this way; it was summertime, were standing outside watching the
sunset on a deck near Woodstock, where she had her summer home.
The Great Mother Ramone looked out at the pink cloud formations,
her pixie eyes twinkling with joy, breathless, bursting with chi
energy she declared, "Donna, I love life!". This great spirit is
as undefeated in death as she was in life.
In lieu of cards or flowers, the family requests donations to the
Joey Ramone Foundation for Lymphoma Research: P.O. Box 1107 Cooper
Station, NY, NY 10276.