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Dee Dee
Dee Dee

Dee Dee at CBGB
Dee Dee at
CBGB, 11/75

Dee Dee and Joey
Dee Dee & Joey
at CBGB, 11/75

Dee Dee
Dee Dee

Ramones with Marky
First Ramones
picture with
new drummer

Ramones with Iggy
Ramones with Iggy

Ramones Live
Ramones Live


Ramones Live at CBGB
Ramones Live

Dee Dee Ramone
1952 - 2002
By John Holmstrom

All photos by Roberta Bayley except where noted; Copyright © 1975-2002 by respective photographers.

Dee Dee Ramone (born September 18th, 1952 as Douglas Colvin) died on June 5th, 2002, at his home in Los Angeles. Dee Dee was the most important musician in the history of punk rock, and probably the most overlooked.

There was something authentic about the Ramones. If there hadn't been they would have been dismissed as poseurs, fakes, and pretenders. In fact, too many "rock journalists" dismissed them as a joke, but they didn't realize that the Ramones wrote songs from their life experiences: sniffing glue, mental hospitals, growing up in Germany, being an army brat, working the streets. That idiotic term "street punk" that so many rock critic mediocrities like to throw around has been used to describe everyone in rock 'n' roll: Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Steven Tyler and other nice kids from the suburbs. But only Dee Dee was the real thing. And he wasn't just a guy in the band - he and Joey wrote most of the music.

Not that Dee was a tough guy or an asshole. He was genuinely nice. He was like a little kid, very naive. He was incapable of putting on an act. His one scene with dialogue in Rock 'n' Roll High School needed more takes than any other in the movie because Dee Dee couldn't deliver his lines about pizza.

Johnny was The Boss of the Ramones - a right-wing conservative who beat up hippies when he worked as a construction worker. Joey was the nice guy of the band who loved rock 'n' roll music more than anything else in the world. Tommy was the brains of the group and an accomplished musician with credentials (like working on "Electric Ladyland"). But Dee Dee was the punk. He was the guy who had a girlfriend who stabbed him in the ass with a broken beer bottle. He worked on 53rd and 3rd. The other three guys in the band you could figure out, you knew where they came from. But Dee Dee was completely unpredictable. Even Dee Dee didn't seem to know where Dee Dee came from.

Legs McNeil's Please Kill Me started out as an autobiography of Dee Dee because Legs thought that punk rock began with Dee Dee. Oddly enough, when the book turned into an oral history of punk rock, Dee Dee became determined to write his own life story. He seemed unable to figure it all out. Dee Dee's own account of his life (published as "Poison Heart" and "Lobotomy") was somewhat unreliable because Dee Dee had a lot of difficulty telling reality from fantasy.

Dee Dee and Joey wrote most of the Ramones songs together on a two-string acoustic guitar. They'd painstakingly experiment with each simple riff over and over, until a song sounded just right to them. Because of their limitations the Ramones never sounded like anything but the Ramones. The joke at CBGB's used to be that it would be useless for any record label to sign them to a contract because all their records would sound exactly the same. But this turned out to be their strength.

Niagara once suggested to me that someone should publish a book of Dee Dee stories because they would all be so weird and funny, and anyone who knew or even met Dee Dee would have one. You could call it: Dee Dee Says The Darndest Things! He'd say something so off the wall or strange that you'd have to laugh. He really was one-of-a-kind and all of us miss him.

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