Years After Touring With the Misfits, a Punk Drummer Confronts Cancer

Joey Image has lived in South Florida since 1994.
Joey Image has lived in South Florida since 1994. Courtesy of Joey Image
What happens when you’re too much of a misfit for a group called the Misfits?

That was the case for Joey Image, who played drums for the legendary horror-punk band. Now living in South Florida, he remembers how quickly his time with the group began.

“They see me playing, and they’re like, ‘Hey, you think you maybe wanna join our band?’” he recalls. "So I took their tape and learned it, and two weeks later I was playing [Max’s Kansas City, the legendary New York punk club]. I was in the band. That’s how quick it all happened. I was just in the right spot, basically. Plus, I did kick ass."

Image, whose birth name is Joey Poole, played with the band from 1978 till the end of 1979, touring around New York and New Jersey. He also recorded with the Misfits, serving as session drummer for Horror Business and Night of the Living Dead. But difficulties within the band — specifically with principal members Glenn Danzig and Jerry Only — prevented him from staying long.

Image’s tenure came to an end when the Misfits flew to England to play a tour with the Damned, only to find a mess of unsigned contracts and broken agreements. After two shows, the band walked off the tour, and Image, stranded in a foreign country and battling a substance abuse problem, decided he’d had enough.

“Jerry and Glenn, they really didn’t care about anybody else but themselves,” he says. “I couldn’t take it. I got a round-trip ticket and I went back to New York.”

Back home in the States, he worked a construction job in Manhattan until 1994, when he relocated to South Florida for the warmer weather. He’s since become involved in the local punk scene, playing in dozens of projects. About two years ago, however, he was confronted with something far more drastic than anything he’d faced in the Misfits: a cancer diagnosis.

“They told me: ‘Your levels are high for tumors,’” he says. “So I took a blood test, and then they took an MRI on me... and they saw tumors on my liver.”

Image entered chemotherapy shortly after, and things are looking up. At his most recent hospital visit, he learned the cancer is no longer spreading. His doctors are now recommending a liver transplant, and though most of his treatment is covered by insurance, he’ll need much more for the next step toward wellness.

“They say if I wanna get cured, that’s the only way,” he says of the operation.

Image says he’s been helped out by benefit shows thrown in New York and Los Angeles, and he has a GoFundMe set up in his name to help pay for the expensive surgery, rehab, and anti-rejection medication. With enough help, he hopes to be able to continue doing what he loves: playing music.

“I don’t do it for money; I don’t do it for anything. It just takes me to another place. It’s good for my soul.”
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Douglas Markowitz is a former music and arts editorial intern for Miami New Times. Born and raised in South Florida, he studied at Sophia University in Tokyo before earning a bachelor's in communications from University of North Florida. He writes freelance about music, art, film, and other subjects.