Welcome to Tattoodo's Punk Rock Week! We're celebrating everything punk this week — from some scary dudes in New Jersey to heartbroken nerds from SoCal, and everything in between. And what would Punk Rock Week be without a little something about The Ramones. Gabba gabba hey!
Not many people can be said to have singlehandedly changed the world and today we pay tribute to the man who very nearly single handedly invented punk rock, Dee Dee Ramone. We’re taking a look at his life, The Ramones, and some sick Dee Dee Ramone tattoos.
Dee Dee entered into this world as Douglas Colvin in 1951. As the son of a career military man, he moved around a lot as a child. He would recall that it was a lonely childhood devoid of any real friends. At the age of 15, Colvin moved with his mother to Queens. Here he met John Cummings and Thomas Erdelyi, two other neighborhood outcasts with whom he forged a quick bond.
A few years later, Johnny convinced young Douglas to attempt to start a band together with drummer Jeffrey Hyman. Colvin suggested the name The Ramones for the band, and the three all took on the surname. The newly-christened Dee Dee Ramone decided Hyman (now Joey Ramone) should sing, as he couldn’t sing more than a few numbers without hurting his voice. The three enlisted Tommy to play drums, and the rest is history.
In the early days, Dee Dee was the driving creative force behind The Ramones. He is responsible for the lion’s share of the material on the early records and would continue to contribute songs to Ramones albums long after he had left the band (in one instance trading three songs in exchange for the band bailing him out of jail).
It’s sort of incredible that someone with such a bad dope habit could be a Ramone. By all accounts, the band had a rigid touring and recording schedule. Being a Ramone was a job. And somehow Dee Dee hung on until 1987 when he quit the group to drop a rap album. The result, Dee Dee King’s “Standing in the Spotlight” is the kind of awful delusional bullshit that only someone heavily disconnected from the world via drugs could produce. And yet, the album definitely has Dee Dee’s charm all over it.
The genius of The Ramones was that they proved that anyone could make rock music. They broke down the last remaining barriers to the masses (talent and good looks) and soon everyone was starting bands. And it blows our mind to think that a glue-sniffing heroin addict is responsible for such a monumental shift in culture.
It’s been 15 years since we lost Dee Dee. The man may be gone, but his legend is immortal. If Dee Dee Ramone can change the world, anyone can. Just think about this as you look at these Dee Dee Ramone tattoos.
If these Dee Dee Ramone tattoos make you want to learn more about the original punk, we highly recommend the documentary Is Dee Dee Home and both of his autobiographies. Especially the second one, “Legend of a Rockstar,” in which Dee Dee admits, among other things, to murdering some border guards in Europe. It’s a real trip.