Dee Dee Ramone
Dee Dee Ramone would have been 60 this year
I’m sitting on top of a large rock in the middle of nowhere. All I have is my notebook, pen, a couple of smokes, a warm beer, a thermos of coffee, and what appears to be Ramones Mania on my buddy’s ipod. Dee Dee Ramone’s birthday will be coming soon. I think he would have been 60 this year.
Before the Ramones, Dee Dee was Douglas Glenn Colvin. Dee Dee Ramone was born on September 18, 1951, and died on June 5, 2002.
Dee Dee Ramone–Bassist/ Songwriter
Though most of the credit for Ramones’ tunes was doled out equally to all the band members, Dee Dee really wrote or co-wrote most of the band’s music. Among Dee Dee’s better known songs were “53rd & 3rd”, “Glad to See You Go” , “It’s a Long Way Back to Germany”, and “Chinese Rock” which was originally recorded by Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers. The song “Wart Hog” was written when Dee Dee was going through a stint in drug rehab. Dee Dee also penned the songs “Commando”, “Rockaway Beach”, and “Poison Heart”. Between Dee Dee and Joey, they had most of the Ramones’ music covered.
In the beginning, Dee Dee Ramone was the band’s lead vocalist, but it was damned near impossible for him to sing and play bass at the same time. And he could not sing lead vocals for more than a few songs anyway, as his voice would soon be torn up. So, Joey took over as vocalist. Dee Dee would continue, however, to count off each song’s tempo with his signature rapid-fire shout of “1-2-3-4!”
Dee Dee Ramone–Addict
Dee Dee Ramone struggled with drug addiction for much of his life, particularly with heroin. He began using drugs as a teenager, and continued to use for the majority of his adult life. He appeared to clean up his act in the early 1990s but began using heroin again some time later. He died from a heroin overdose in 2002.
Dee Dee Ramone–Early Days
In his early teens, Dee Dee, his mother and sister, moved to Queens, New York. In New York, he met John Cummings and Thomas Erdelyi, who later became known as Johnny and Tommy “Ramone”. Their first band together was called The Tangerine Puppets.
Dee Dee Ramone–the Ramones are born
Colvin and Cummings quickly became friends, as they were both social outcasts in their heavily middle class neighborhood. Johnny convinced Dee Dee to form their own band with then-drummer Jeffrey Hyman, known later as Joey Ramone, in 1974.
It was Dee Dee who first suggested naming the band the Ramones, after reading that Paul McCartney often signed into hotels under the alias “Paul Ramon”. The band members all agreed to adopt the name “Ramone” as a means of conveying their unity. And history was made.
Dee Dee Ramone–Hip Hop Artist?!?
Dee Dee played bass and wrote Ramones songs from 1974 through 1989, when he left to pursue a short-lived–and ill-fated–career in hip hop under the name Dee Dee King. Dee Dee toured the world playing his new songs, old Ramones songs and other old favorites in small clubs. He continued to write songs for the Ramones until 1996, when the band officially retired.
Dee Dee Ramone I.C.L.C.
Following a one week stint with GG Allin’s Murder Junkies, in 1991, Dee Dee formed a few short-lived projects, the Chinese Dragons in 1992, which was followed by the Dee Dee Ramone I.C.L.C. (Inter-Celestial Light Commune), which lasted two years. The group featured bassist John Carco, who befriended Dee Dee when the two attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings together during the summer of 1992. I.C.L.C. would go on to promote their I Hate Freaks Like You album by touring 22 countries in 1994. During this tour, Dee Dee met 16-year-old Barbara Zampini. They later married, and remained together until his death.
Songs written by Dee Dee and Carco for the never released second I.C.L.C. album would eventually be recorded by the Ramones on their final album, Adios Amigos. The song, Born to Die in Berlin, would ultimately be the final song on the final Ramones’ album, and featured Dee Dee singing in German on the bridge of the song.
Dee Dee Ramone–Back for the last show
Dee Dee was a special guest at the final Ramones’ show in Los Angeles on August 6, 1996, performing the lead vocals on the song “Love Kills”.
Dee Dee recorded several solo albums under his old name Dee Dee Ramone. “Zonked!”, the first album released was re-titled “Ain’t It Fun?” for the European release. The album featured Dee Dee Ramone on guitars and lead vocals, Marky Ramone on drums, Daniel Ray producing and on guitars, and Barbara “Ramone”/ Zimpani on bass and lead vocals, and included Joey Ramone and the Cramps’ vocalist Lux Interior each doing vocals on a couple songs.
Dee Dee’s final studio recordings were released by tREND iS dEAD! in 2002.
Dee Dee Ramone–at rest
Dee Dee Ramone is buried at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California. His headstone features the Ramones seal with the line “I feel so safe flying on a ray on the highest trails above” taken from his song, “Highest Trails Above”, from the Ramones’ Subterranean Jungle album. At the stone’s base is the line “O.K…I gotta go now.”
So, that is pretty much what I know about Dee Dee Ramone. His music wasn’t fancy, and his lyrics were not particularly deep–although they were absolutely perfect for the Ramones. Maybe he was just at the right place at the right time. I cannot imagine listening to any of the old Ramones music without hearing Dee Dee’s solid bass lines and words.
Anyway, Dee Dee Ramone’s 60th birthday would have been this coming Sunday, September 18. He has been gone for nine years now. After Joey died, the rest of the band started dropping too. Tommy is the only original member of the Ramones who is still alive.
Joey died in 2001. Dee Dee died in 2002. Johnny died in 2004.These things happen. People die all the time. When we were kids, did any of us think that the Ramones would actually die?
Dee Dee Ramone