"He was a male prostitute, a would-be mugger, a heroin dealer, an accomplice to armed robbery and a geius poet who was headed for prison or an early grave, but was side-tracked by rock & roll."
——Legs McNeil on Dee Dee Ramone


Ex-Ramones Bassist Found Dead of an Apparent Drug Overdose by Wife in L.A. Apartment
Dee Dee Ramone, the one-time bass-player for legendary punk-rock group the Ramones, passed away Wednesday night from an apparent drug overdose in his Los Angeles apartment.

The songwriter, artist and author is the second member of the band to die in the last year, with Joey passing away from lymphatic cancer in April 2001.

Born Douglas Glenn Colvin Sept. 18, 1952, to a U.S. soldier and a German mother in Fort Lee, VA, Dee Dee was a rock & roll fan from his childhood growing up in Berlin. While living in Forest Hills with his mother, he ran into a fellow rock geek named Jeffrey Hyman aka Joey, with both taking the name Ramone and forming a band after the pseudonym adopted by Paul McCartney when checking into a hotel back in his Beatles days.

Dee Dee wrote such classic Ramones songs as "53rd and 3rd," "Loudmouth," "Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue" and "Chinese Rocks," a song popularized by Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers. The latter was his loving ode to copping heroin, which turned into a lifelong obsession as he fought to get himself clean. It was Dee Dee who would count off the "1-2-3-4" at the beginning of every one of the group's two-minute bursts of adrenalized pop when they played live. He wrote in his biography that he chafed under Johnny's ironclad control of the band, and was miserable most of the time he played with the guys he still affectionately referred to as his "brudders."

After leaving the Ramones in 1989, replaced by CJ (Christopher Ward), Dee Dee put out a rap album under the name Dee Dee King, Standing in the Spotlight, as well as several other solo records of his patented punk-rock, including 1995's I Hate Freaks Like You, '97's Zonked and 2001's compilation Greatest & Latest. He also wrote a novel, Chelsea Horror Hotel. Dee Dee continued to write songs for the Ramones (in his book, he claimed he was coerced into doing so), and moved to Buenos Aires, where he met and married his now-21-year-old wife Barbara five years ago, then returned to New York. He was most recently living in a Hollywood apartment with his wife and performed at Club Makeup only last Saturday night. At the end of his autobiography, Lobotomy: Surviving the Ramones (Thunder's Mouth Press), published in 2000, Dee Dee professed to be sober and content, but he admitted he never stayed that way long.

According to a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office cited in allstarmagazine, Ramone was found by his wife on their living room couch with drug paraphernalia and a syringe nearby. The spokesperson said she had left the residence and upon returning, found Ramone at 8:25 p.m. and called 911. The Los Angeles City Fire Department paramedics arrived and pronounced him dead on the scene 15 minutes later. An autopsy is scheduled for this afternoon to determine the cause of death.

In his introduction to Lobotomy, Legs McNeil wrote: "Dee Dee Ramone is the last of this breed of authentic rock star, for he was an authentic bad guy who got over, and in so doing, forever changed the face of rock and roll...[He] was the archetypal fuck-up who's [sic] life was a living disaster. He was a male prostitute, a would-be mugger, a heroin dealer, an accomplice to armed robbery and a genius poet who was headed for prison or an early grave, but was side-tracked by rock & roll."

Dee Dee was an artist as well, whose work is being shown this weekend as part of "Rock 'N' Roll Art," a show at New Jersey's Paterson Museum, including pieces by John Lennon, David Bowie and Bob Dylan, organized by Webster Hall curator Baird Jones. A Ramones tribute album is due from Columbia later this year, with Rob Zombie, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Eddie Vedder, Marilyn Manson, the Pretenders and Green Day, among others, participating.

When the Ramones were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last year, Dee Dee characteristically thanked...himself. "I'd like to congratulate myself, and thank myself, and give myself a big pat on the back," he quipped. "Thank you, Dee Dee, you're very wonderful."

The last words are Dee Dee's, from his song "Wart Hog": "Death, death, death is the price I pay/It's a sick world, what can I say/No such thing as an even break/It's stealing and cheating, take, take, take."

Rest in peace, Dee Dee.