Dee Dee Ramone (born Douglas Glenn Colvin, Sept. 18, 1951 – June 5, 2002) was a founding member, and a primary songwriter in the world famous Ramones. He was the bassist from their start in 1974 until leaving the band in 1989 to pursue a solo career and other endeavors. At the encouragement of co-founder Johnny Ramone, Dee Dee continued to write songs for the Ramones until they retired in 1996. His unique perspective and invaluable artistic contributions were a vital element to the chemistry of the Ramones. Recipient of a Grammy award for lifetime achievement, Dee Dee is the most influential punk rock bassist, and one of the most prolific punk rock songwriters of all-time.
His signature “1-2-3-4” count off will forever be emulated and ingrained in pop culture and had it not been for Dee Dee, the band might not have been known as “The Ramones”. After Dee Dee read about (Beatles) Paul McCartney's habit of checking into hotels under the name “Paul Ramon” for anonymity, Johnny, Joey, Dee Dee and Tommy all adopted the name “Ramone” (adding the letter ‘e’) and the “Ramones” were born. 28 years later, the band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame alongside the Beatles themselves.
Beyond his work in the Ramones, Dee Dee had a thriving solo career and expressed himself artistically in many different mediums. He continued writing and recording music consistently, eventually switching from bass to guitar with wife Barbara Ramone on bass and occasionally on vocals. He released a string of singles and solo albums from 1987 - 2002, (many of which remain long out of print). A true renaissance man, Dee Dee’s multi-faceted art included an ongoing series of paintings, some of which are prominently displayed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and museum in Cleveland. His pieces have sold in galleries all over the world for impressive amounts throughout his lifetime and only continue to escalate in value.
Dee Dee’s creativity knew no boundaries and neither did his imagination. He authored several books including the novel “Chelsea Horror Hotel”. The story centers on Dee Dee and his wife Barbara moving into NYC’s infamous Chelsea Hotel where they believe they’re staying in the very room where his old friend Sid Vicious killed Nancy Spungen. Dee Dee is tormented by demons that plague the hotel (both living and dead), visited by the ghost of Sid Vicious and other deceased punk rock friends (including Johnny Thunders and Stiv Bators). While his other books: “Lobotomy” and “Legend of a Rock Star”, were released as “non-fiction” autobiographies, they intentionally contained many completely fictitious sequences.
Dee Dee was truly enigmatic. He was known for being a colorful storyteller and enjoyed blurring the lines of reality. This is no-doubt, one of the qualities that made Dee Dee and his work so fascinating and endearing. The style of punk rock that he embodied and helped to create with the Ramones was a mainstay in his persona and his work to the very end. He always exuded the sense of humor and pop sensibilities that made the Ramones so groundbreakingly original, iconic and immortal.
Dee Dee is buried in close proximity to Johnny Ramone’s memorial statue at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles, CA.