New York punks old and new paid tribute to Dee Dee Ramone on Tuesday with a concert at the downtown club the Continental, where the legendary Ramones bassist had gigged frequently in recent years. The Toilet Boys, Star Spangles and Charm School appeared on the bill along with the trio of Marky Ramone (drums), C.J. Ramone (bass) and Ramones producer Daniel Rey (guitar), who played Ramones covers with help from an array of guest singers, including the Dictators’ Handsome Dick Manitoba, the Heartbreakers’ Walter Lure and Black Flag’s Dez Cadena. Proceeds from the event went to UNICEF.
Dee Dee, known for his propulsive basslines and trademark “One, Two, Three, Four!” countoff, died June 5th of an apparent drug overdose in his Los Angeles home. His death came barely a year after the passing of singer Joey Ramone from lymphatic cancer and just months after the Ramones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
“He was probably the greatest punk rock songwriter of all time,” said, C.J., who replaced Dee Dee when he acrimoniously left the group in 1989. And besides penning Ramones classics like “Rockaway Beach” and “53rd and 3rd,” Dee Dee was a novelist and painter; several of his chalk drawings and paintings fill the walls in the downstairs green room at Continental. He was working on his third book, Legend of a Rock Star, at the time he died. “He was always compelled to create,” Rey said. “Without it he went crazy.”
“His influence as an individual — it spread everywhere,” said Marky. “When Sid Vicious was in New York, we’d be hanging out at CBGBs, and the first thing he would say was, ‘Where’s Dee Dee?’ — because the guy would follow Dee Dee around, and he would imitate him.”
In addition to the performers, several Ramones associates showed to honor Dee Dee. Both Monte Melnick, the band’s former tour manager, and “Trigger,” Continental’s owner, gave heartfelt tributes from the stage. The surprise guest of the night was Tommy Ramone, the band’s original drummer, who sang “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend.”