Ramones bassist Dee Dee Ramone (born Douglas Colvin) died at his Los Angeles home last night; he was forty-nine. According to the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office, the cause of death has not yet been determined, though an accidental drug overdose is suspected. Drug paraphernalia, including a syringe, was found near the body. An autopsy is being conducted today, though the toxicology results won’t be known for three to eight weeks.
Dee Dee was one of the four original Ramones. Along with guitarist Johnny Ramone, drummer Tommy Ramone and singer Joey Ramone — who died last year of complications from lymphoma — he formed the band in 1974 in the Forest Hills neighborhood of Queens, New York. With the release of their self-titled 1976 debut album of two-minute, three-chord blasts, they would be known as the first punk rock band.
Dee Dee, who actually began as the Ramones singer, was one of the band’s principal songwriters, penning such staples as “Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue” “53rd and 3rd” and “Commando.” He grew up in post-World War II Germany and his fascination with the country and the culture frequently seeped into songs such as “Blitzkrieg Bop,” “It’s a Long Way Back” and “Commando.”
He battled heroin addiction for more than a decade, and remained a Ramone for fifteen years, leaving after 1989’s Brain Drain to release a rap album under the name Dee Dee King and then subsequently forming the unheralded rock group the Chinese Dragons.
Dee Dee made his last major public appearance at the Ramones’ induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March of this year. “I think it means we’re very lucky,” he said of the band’s induction, backstage. “We have like unlimited luck potential. We worked for everything we got, but we still have charmed existences.”
During his acceptance speech, Dee Dee displayed his notorious oddball wit. “I’d like to congratulate myself and thank myself and give myself a pat on the back,” he said. “Thank you, Dee Dee.”