Dee Dee Ramone, a founding member of punk pioneers the Ramones, died Wednesday night in his Hollywood home, according to a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office. The bassist was 50
Ramone (born Douglas Glenn Colvin) was found unresponsive by his wife around 8:40 p.m. She called police, and fire department paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.
A coroner’s office spokesperson said the case will be treated as a possible accidental drug overdose. Investigators found a syringe and other drug paraphernalia on Ramone’s kitchen counter. An autopsy is scheduled for Thursday (June 6).
Dee Dee formed the Ramones in the Forest Hills section of Queens, New York, in 1974 with guitarist Johnny Ramone (John Cummings), drummer Tommy Ramone (Tom Erdelyi) and singer Joey Ramone (Jeffrey Hyman), who died of lymphoma last April. Dee Dee left the band following the release of 1989’s Brain Drain to adopt the persona of rapper Dee Dee King and was replaced by C.J. Ramone (Christopher John Ward).
When his rap debut, 1988’s Standing in Spotlight, proved less than successful, he formed the Chinese Dragons.
Dee Dee returned to the Ramones fold in the ’90s, penning several tracks on the Ramones’ studio swan song, 1995’s Adios Amigos. He reunited with the Ramones in 1997 for a show at the Hollywood Palladium that featured cameo performances by Eddie Vedder, MotÃ¶rhead’s Lemmy Kilmister, and Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell and Ben Shepherd. The performance later resulted in the live album We’re Outta Here!
He last shared a stage with his fellow Ramones in March, when the group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
“He was sort of a wacky guy who wrote great songs,” said Deborah Harry, whose band Blondie, like the Ramones, emerged from New York’s CBGB scene. “He was a really good songwriter, though a little self-destructive. He was always nice to me, and we always had a good time together. He was a lot of fun.
“He had this sort of manic energy,” she added. “I always thought that the Ramones were this tactical force, like the Marines jumping out of a plane or something. They had this focus and energy that I really admired.”
“I was still working out the final details on Joey’s headstone when I got the shocking word that another brother in our extended family was gone,” said Mickey Leigh, Joey Ramone’s brother. “For me, he was one of the greatest rock and roll songwriters alive. Today, sadly, another life becomes legend. My heartfelt sympathies go out to his wife, family and friends.”