He was the group's primary songwriter, penning songs such as "Rockaway Beach," "53rd & 3rd," and "Poison Heart" for one of the most treasured and loved groups to emerge from the new wave/punk era. Everybody loved The Ramones.
On this day in 2002, Dee Dee Ramone, bass guitarist with the group, died, aged 49, at his Hollywood, California apartment of a heroin overdose. Dee Dee was initially the band's lead vocalist, though his (then) inability to sing and play bass at the same time resulted in original drummer Joey Ramone taking over the lead vocalist duties.
Born Douglas Glenn Colvin in Fort Lee, Virginia, he was the son of an American soldier and a German woman. As an infant, his family relocated to Berlin, Germany, due to his father's military service. His parents separated during his early teens, and he remained in Berlin until the age of 15, when he, along with his mother and sister Beverley, moved to the Forest Hills section of New York City's borough of Queens, in order to escape Dee Dee's alcoholic father.
There he met John Cummings and Thomas Erdelyi (later dubbed Johnny and Tommy "Ramone"), who were then playing in a band called The Tangerine Puppets, named after a Donovan song.
The three were joined by drummer Jeffrey Hyman in 1974 and The Ramones were born.
Jeffrey became Joey Ramone, taking over vocal duties after Dee Dee decided that it was too hard on his voice to sing lead vocals for more than a few songs. It was Dee Dee who first suggested naming the band the Ramones, after reading that Beatle Paul McCartney often signed into hotels under the alias "Paul Ramon." He added an 'e' to the end of that surname and the band members all agreed to adopt the surname "Ramone" as a means of conveying their unity.
Dee Dee struggled with drug addiction for much of his life, particularly heroin. He began using drugs as a teenager, and continued to use them for the majority of his adult life. Appearing to clean up his act in the early 1990s, he resumed his heroin use some time later.
On the evening of June 5, 2002, he was found dead by his wife Barbara at his Hollywood, California apartment; an autopsy established heroin overdose as the official cause of death. He had been booked to play a show at the Ventura Theatre, which ended up being a memorial show in his honor.
Dee Dee Ramone is buried at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California, not far from the cenotaph of his former Ramones bandmate, Johnny Ramone. His headstone features the Ramones seal with the line "I feel so safe flying on a ray on the highest trails above" taken from his song, "Highest Trails Above," from the Ramones' Subterranean Jungle album. At the stone's base is the line "O.K...I gotta go now."