Few people know that the first person to call himself a Ramone was Dee Dee, aka Douglas Glenn Colvin. Born in Fort Lee, Virginia in 1951, the future rock star spent an itinerant army-brat childhood in Germany, relocating to Queens at the age of 15. In 1974, he went on to become a founding member of the Ramones, allegedly inspired to change his last name because Paul McCartney once briefly went by “Paul Ramon.”
The Ramones became five men who all adopted the same last name: Dee Dee, Johnny, Joey, Tommy, and Marky. The “brothers” referenced the raw emotions and simple, catchy riffs of their midcentury rock ‘n’ roll antecedents, but their rebellious, long-haired aesthetic and heartrendingly earnest sound was all their own. In addition to founding the band, Dee Dee is also the one to have written most of its hits, including “Blitzkrieg Bop,” “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend,” “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker,” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School,” the title of Roger Corman’s 1979 movie co-starring the Ramones and Andy Warhol icon Mary Woronov.
Today, the sole surviving member of the original black-leather-and-jeans-clad punk-band is Tommy. Dee Dee, the original Ramone, remained a hard-core rock legend to the end — dying of a heroin overdose in 2002 at age 51, shortly after the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In Los Angeles, La Luz de Jesus salutes his memory with a birthday and memorial art show that opens tomorrow night, featuring his own artwork, as well as portraits of Dee Dee by punk photographer Jenny Lens.
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