Joey Ramone‘s estate has sold a stake in the Ramones icon’s publishing income to Primary Wave for $10 million, a source close to the deal confirmed to Billboard. The acquisition means Primary Wave will both have non-exclusive rights to license the late punk rocker’s name and likeness as well as part of his share of publishing royalties for many of the songs in the NYC band’s catalog. This does not include his solo works.
The deal includes such early punk standards as “Sheena Is A Punk Rocker,” “Rockaway Beach,” “Do You Remember Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio” and “I Wanna Be Sedated,” among others. It does not include one of the band’s signature cuts, “Blizkrieg Bop,” as Joey is not listed in its writing credits.
News of the acquisition broke the same day as Primary Wave announced a $1.7 billion investment from Canadian company Brookfield Asset Management, Inc. to further fund its catalog acquisitions and that the firm will be a minority shareholder as a result of the deal. Brookfield is primarily known for its portfolio of top-dollar commercial real estate and infrastructure assets. While some experts have predicted a slowdown in catalog sales, due to inflation and higher interest rates, Primary Wave is continuing to bet big on buying older hits.
The timing of the acquisition is also noteworthy because Netflix and STXFilms are gearing up for the release of a biopic about Joey Ramone, starring Pete Davidson in the leading role. “I’m still in shock that they’re letting me do this,” Davidson told Billboard back in 2021, when his casting was announced. Dubbed I Slept With Joey Ramone, the film’s release date has not yet been announced.
Born Jeffery Ross Hyman, Joey Ramone was a pioneer in punk rock whose defining voice made him the poster child for the counterculture in the late 1970s. The Ramones are one of the most influential bands in history and went on to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and earn a Grammy Lifetime Achievement award. Joey passed away in 2001 after a battle with lymphoma. Original bassist Dee Dee Ramone died a year later of a drug overdose, and guitarist Johnny Ramone lost his battle with prostate cancer in 2004. Founding drummer and longest surviving member Tommy Ramone died in 2014, also of cancer.
Joey Ramone’s brother and sole heir, Mitchel Hyman, says of the deal, “I’m happy to welcome Primary Wave as partners in my brother’s interests in Ramones. I’m thoroughly convinced of their eagerness to perpetuate his legacy and their sincerity about doing it in a way that will never compromise his credibility. I, very much, am looking forward to working with them.”
“Joey Ramone was a total original—his songwriting, style, and voice are all undeniably unique and immediately recognizable still today,” says Lexi Todd, vp, business affairs & legal at Primary Wave Music. “A counterculture icon and prime mover of punk rock, Ramones demonstrated first-hand the power of music in influencing culture and built a foundation that has influenced decades of musicians. We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to continue the legacy of Joey Ramone and Ramones catalog.”
Primary Wave’s David Weitzman says, “In elementary school, when I first heard Beat on the Brat, it sounded like nothing I had ever heard, and changed my life forever. I had to learn more about this mysterious Ramones… it is an absolute honor & privilege to work with the music of tRamones and Joey’s heir.”