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Rocker Dee Dee Ramone of Forest Hills dies at 49

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Former Forest Hills punk rocker and Queens teen idol Dee Dee Ramone was found dead in his Hollywood home June 5 from an apparent drug overdose, the Los Angeles coroner’s office said.

The 49-year-old bassist from the band the Ramones, who led a fast- paced lifestyle filled with drugs and alcohol, was discovered dead by his wife, Barbara, at about 8:30 p.m. that day.

The news came about a year after the death of ex-bandmate and classmate at Forest Hills High School, Joey Ramone, who succumbed to lymphoma, a form of cancer.

Dee Dee, born Douglas Colvin, Joey, and two other Queens rockers started the Ramones in 1974 in Forest Hills, and the band reached stardom later in that decade with their rebellious lyrics and fast-tempo music. Dee Dee left the band in 1989, but continued to write music for the Ramones until the band called it quits in 1996.

The band inspired a generation of subcultures, including punk, indie and grunge rock as well as the underground college radio scene. The Ramones’ music has often been considered the score of suburban angst. Their lyrics revealed childhoods filled with bad television, Mad Magazine, horror movies, sniffing glue and getting stoned in the basement.

“I liked the Ramones a lot when I was in junior high school,” said Danny Lilker, of Bayside, who admired the Ramones when he joined the popular heavy metal band Anthrax. “Obviously, if someone ODs they were asking for it, but the guy was talented and a well-known person. Yeah, it’s sad.”

The Ramones attracted many young people with hard-hitting songs like “Beat on the Brat with a Baseball Bat,” “I Wanna Be Sedated,” and “Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue.” Their first album, “Ramones,” was recorded in 1976 for $6,000 and they went on to release 17 more live and studio recordings, according to the Ramones’ official web site.

Dee Dee’s autobiography, “Lobotomy: Surviving the Ramones,” speaks of the band’s wild history in which the members often feuded and always lived in the fast lane. The memoir also speaks of Dee Dee’s struggles with drug and alcohol abuse.

The band members always dressed in black leather jackets and ripped jeans to pay tribute to rock ‘n’ rollers of the 1950s and all took the last name Ramone. The remaining two founding members of the band are Tommy and Johnny Ramone.

The band was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year. At the induction ceremony Dee Dee jokingly said, “I’d like to congratulate myself, and thank myself, and give myself a pat on the back. Thank you, Dee Dee, you’re very wonderful.”

After leaving the Ramones, Dee Dee changed his stage name to Dee Dee King and recorded an album as a rapper. He even dabbled in creative writing with his novel, “Chelsea Horror House,” a tale set in the New York’s Chelsea Hotel in which Dee Dee is the main character.

On the day of his death, Barbara Ramone “called 911 and the paramedics responded, worked him up and found there was no way to resuscitate him,” said Craig Harvey, a spokesman from the Los Angeles coroner’s office. “There was drug paraphernalia at the scene and a syringe was taken from the residence.”

Harvey said the formal cause of death and details of the coroner’s report would not be released until toxicology tests are completed in three or four weeks.

The official Ramones Web site only said, “Our brother Dee Dee died last night, June 5, 2002, at his home in Los Angeles, California.”

Reach reporter Brendan Browne by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or by phone at 229-0300, Ext. 155.

Posted 7:06 pm, October 10, 2011
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