Hustler Dee Dee Ramone

The Legend of Punk Rockstar & Hustler Dee Dee Ramone

The Ramones are perhaps one of the most iconic rock bands in American music history. Founded in 1974, the Ramones are known for hits like “Animal Boy,“ “Poison Heart,” and “53rd & 3rd,” written by the band bassist and former front man, hustler Dee Dee Ramone.

Legendary Rockstar: Hustler Dee Dee Ramone

Born Douglas Glenn Colvin in 1951, Dee Dee Ramone was the son of a U.S. Army soldier. His family moved around frequently because of his father’s military service, but at age 15, Dee Dee and his sister settled in Queens, New York to hide from their alcoholic father. Dee Dee Ramone met his bandmates John Cummings and Thomas Erdelyi in Queens, later known as Johnny and Tommy Ramone. The band began touring in 1974, with Dee Dee Ramone as the lead composer and vocalist. Despite Dee Dee’s raging heroin addiction, the Ramones grew to become a huge success. Dee Dee Ramone began his drug use during his teenage years. In 1978, he married Vera Boldis but the relationship was strained because of Dee Dee’s drug use and mental illness, and the couple divorced in 1995.

 

“53rd & 3rd” written by Hustler Dee Dee Ramone

Dee Dee Ramone’s heroin addiction was one of the factors that led him to sex work. The band’s song, “53rd & 3rd,” describes the Manhattan intersection, also known as “the Loop,” which was a well-known spot for male prostitution in the 1970s. Hustler Dee Dee Ramone composed the song and it’s said to have been based on his time and experience as a sex worker on this corner to support his drug addiction.

 

The Legend of Hustler Dee Dee Ramone Lives On

In the late 1990s, hustler Dee Dee Ramone continued to perform and tried his hand at writing. He published the autobiography, Poison Heart: Surviving the Ramones and a novel, Chelsea Horror Hotel. In 1994, Dee Dee Ramone met 16-year-old fan Barbara Zampini, who would later become his second wife in Argentina. In 2002, the Ramones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame just months before huster Dee Dee Ramone died of a heroin overdose. He’s buried in Hollywood Forever Cemetery and survived by his wife, Barbara Ramone Zampini. Years later, Dee Dee Ramone and the Ramones continue to influence music and popular culture around the world.

Dr. Charlene J. Fletcher is a historian, womanist, activist, and lover of most things Kentucky, Charlene holds a Ph.D. in History from Indiana University, specializing in 19th century United States and African American history and gender studies. Prior to attending IU, Charlene led a domestic violence/sexual assault program as well as a large reentry initiative in New York City, assisting women and men in their transition from incarceration to society. She also served as a lecturer of Criminal Justice at LaGuardia Community College and an adjunct lecturer in Global and Historical Studies at Butler University. Keep reading…

Discography

Ramones (1976)

Leave Home (1977)

Rocket to Russia (1977)

Road to Ruin (1978)

End of the Century (1980)

Pleasant Dreams (1981)

Subterranean Jungle (1983)

Too Tough to Die (1984)

Animal Boy (1986)

Halfway to Sanity (1987)

Brain Drain (1989)

Mondo Bizarro (1992)

Acid Eaters (1993)

¡Adios Amigos! (1995)

 

Works by Dee Dee Ramone

Ramone, Dee Dee. Legend of a Rock Star: A Memoir. New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 2002.

Ramone, Dee Dee. Chelsea Horror Hotel. Da Capo Press, 2016.

Ramone, Dee Dee, and Veronica Kofman. Poison Heart: Surviving the Ramones. London: Helter Skelter, 2009.

Ramone, Dee Dee. Lobotomy. Da Capo Press, 2016.

 

Ramones Biographies and Histories of Punk

Hoye, Jacob, et al. Smoke Snort Swallow Shoot: Legendary Binges, Lost Weekends, & Other Feats of Rock ‘n’ Roll Incoherence. New York, NY: Lesser Gods, 2017. A collection of stories about the drug histories of rock’s biggest icons, including Dee Dee Ramone.

McNeil, Legs. Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk. 2016. McNeil provides a broad overview of the history and influence of punk rock.

Rombes, Nicholas. Ramones. New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2015. Rombes provides a history of punk rock using the Ramones as an analytical lens.

 

Articles

Devenish, Colin. “Johnny Ramone Stays Tough,” in Rolling Stone, June 24, 2002. Link to article.

McNeil, Legs. “Dee Dee Ramone – Portait of a Punk,” in Vice.com, October 14, 2013.  A transcript of an interview with Dee Dee Ramone in 1989. Link to article.

McStarkey, Mick. “When Dee Dee Ramone Ditched Punk Rock to Become a Rapper,”  Far Out Magazine, November 5, 2021. A short article about Dee Dee’s brief attempt at a career in Hip Hop. Link to article.

Taylor, Tom. “The Ramones Song All About Dee Dee’s Time as a Sex Worker,” in Far Out Magazine, February 10, 2021. Link to article.