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Dee Dee Ramone




1951 - 2002

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Lifestory:
Dee Dee Ramone
1951 - 2002

Biography

"I'd like to congratulate myself, and thank myself, and give myself a big pat on the back. Thank you, Dee Dee, you're very wonderful." These words, by Dee Dee Ramone himself, were spoken on the occasion of the induction of The Ramones into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, on March 18, 2002. Fitting sentiments ~ and no one could have known that within three short months, he would be gone.

He was born Douglas Glenn Colvin, on September 18, 1952, in Fort Lee, Virginia. He was the third of the quartet's original members to have died in the span of four years: vocalist Joey Ramone (real name: Jeffrey Hyman) succumbed to lymphatic cancer in 2001, while guitarist Johnny Ramone (real name: John Cummings) lost his battle with prostate cancer in 2004. The fourth original Ramone, drummer Tommy (real name: Thomas Erdelyi), left the band in 1978.

Dee Dee formed the Ramones in the Forest Hills section of Queens, New York, in 1974 with guitarist Johnny, drummer Tommy, and singer Joey. During his Ramones tenure, Dee Dee wrote or co-wrote such tunes as Rockaway Beach, Strength to Endure, Too Tough to Die, Teenage Lobotomy, Psycho Therapy, and Chinese Rocks.

The group is credited with bringing a wider audience to the New York downtown music scene of the late 1970s, which, inspired by bands such as the New York Dolls and the Stooges, grew to include bands including Blondie, the Patti Smith Group, Richard Hell and the Voidoids, Television, and Talking Heads.

The band's reputation really started to take off once it established a residency at New York's punk rock mecca CBGB's later in 1974. Word-of-mouth among young fans generated media and label interest, and the group signed with Sire Records.

Their debut, self-titled album, recorded in 17 days for about $6,000, was released in 1976. Fourteen songs, which were often played at breakneck speeds and seldom lasted longer than three minutes, were crammed into 29 minutes. From the opening strains of Blitzkrieg Bop (''Hey! Ho! Let's go''), the band seamlessly morphed into darker tunes, such as Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue and the male hustler odyssey 53rd and 3rd.

They introduced punk rock to Britain in July 1976. Critics called them moronic, but the group paved the way for the English punk rock revolution. Ironically, the Sex Pistols and the Clash ended up stealing the Ramones' thunder. They never had a hit single and none of their 14 studio albums ever went gold.

Dee Dee was the bass player with the band until his departure in 1989. Colvin continued to record and write songs for the Ramones for over a decade after he left the band.

In 1987 Colvin started a brief career as rapper Dee Dee King, and then formed The Chinese Dragons as well as several other bands, including an ill-fated punk supergroup including the Dolls' Johnny Thunders and the Dead Boys' Stiv Bators. He reunited with The Ramones one last time in 1996. He later formed a Ramones cover band and became a painter. He also wrote an autobiography, Lobotomy: Surviving the Ramones.

Dee Dee Ramone was found dead on the evening of June 5, 2002, in his Hollywood, California, home. The official cause of death was a heroin overdose. He was survived by his wife, Barbara Zampini, and a world full of friends, fans, and admirers.

"He was a star and the most influential punk rock bassist," Johnny Ramone said in a statement. "I believe he has influenced every kid playing bass that saw him perform. ... He was my friend and I will always miss him."

His headstone, in Section 8 of Hollywood Forever Cemetery, features the Ramones seal surrounded by the line, "I feel so safe flying on a ray on the highest trails above," taken from the song Highest Trails Above (by Dee Dee Ramone) from the 1983 Ramones album Subterranean Jungle. At its base is the quote "Ok ... I gotta go now".