Dee Dee Ramone, bassist, songwriter for punk band

June 7, 2002


A second member of the pioneering punk band the Ramones has died. He was 50.

Douglas Glenn Colvin, better known as bassist Dee Dee Ramone, was found dead of an apparent heroin overdose in his Hollywood home, the Los Angeles coroner's office said Thursday.

Mr. Ramone's former bandmate, vocalist Joey Ramone (a k a Jeff Hyman), died of lymphoma April 15, 2001.

Together with bandmates Johnny on guitar and Tommy (and later Marky) on drums, "da brudders" from Queens, N.Y., reshaped rock 'n' roll, defining the ultra-adrenalized but infinitely tuneful punk sound of the mid-'70s, and casting a long shadow that continues to influence platinum-selling bands such as Green Day, Blink-182 and Sum 41 today.

Mr. Ramone was found dead on his couch by his wife, Barbara Zampini, when she returned home Wednesday night, said Craig Harvey, operations chief for the L.A. coroner's office. Paramedics were called, and he was declared dead at 8:40 p.m.

''The investigator noted drug paraphernalia, including a single syringe on the kitchen counter," Harvey said. An autopsy was planned.

The death comes 11 weeks after the band was celebrated with induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

''I'd like to congratulate myself, and thank myself and give myself a big pat on the back,'' Mr. Ramone joked at the induction ceremony. ''Thank you, Dee Dee, you're very wonderful.''

The bassist's heroin problem was legendary, and he wrote about it at length in his autobiography, Lobotomy: Surviving the Ramones. He also wrote a novel, Chelsea Horror Hotel.

An army brat, Mr. Ramone was born in Fort Lee, Va., but moved frequently throughout his youth. He joined the Ramones in 1974 and wrote much of the group's material, even after he quit the band in 1989.

One of his best-known tunes was ''Chinese Rock,'' a song about scoring heroin, co-written with former New York Dolls guitarist Johnny Thunders, who died of an overdose.

After leaving the Ramones as a result of the group's constant feuding, Mr. Ramone tried to launch an ill-advised career as a rapper. But he remained best known as the real street punk of the most acclaimed punk band, the personification of the subjects in songs such as ''I Wanna Be Sedated'' and ''Teenage Lobotomy.''

Mr. Ramone seemed to resent the fact he was never given as much credit in the Ramones as Joey and Johnny.

"I never tried to use the Ramones to my personal advantage; I didn't steal from the Ramones or create illusions," he said in an interview with a Ramones Webzine in 2000.

"I did five or six solo albums with everybody fighting with me because of the possibility of having any minor success. They didn't want it to compete with the Ramones," he said.

Contributing: AP