LOS ANGELES -- Dee Dee Ramone, a founding member of the pioneer punk band the Ramones, was found dead of a possible drug overdose in his Hollywood home, the coroner's office said Thursday. He was 50.
Ramone, whose real name was Douglas Glenn Colvin, was found dead on the couch by his wife when she returned home at 8:25 p.m. Wednesday, said Craig Harvey, operations chief for the coroner's office. Paramedics were called and he was declared dead at 8:40 p.m.
"The investigator noted drug paraphernalia, including a single syringe on the kitchen counter, and we are handing it as a possible accidental overdose," Harvey said.
The coroner's office did not say what drug was suspected of causing Ramone's death. An autopsy was performed Thursday but conclusions about the cause of death were deferred pending toxicological tests, spokesman David Campbell said. Those results could take several weeks, he said.
In his autobiography, "Lobotomy: Surviving the Ramones," Ramone had written of his struggle with drug and alcohol abuse.
The official Ramones Web site said: "Our brother Dee Dee died last night, June 5, 2002, at his home in Los Angeles, California."
The death came 11 weeks after the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
"I'd like to congratulate myself, and thank myself, and give myself a big pat on the back," Ramone, the band's bassist, joked at the time. "Thank you, Dee Dee, you're very wonderful."
Feuded with bandmates
He had often feuded with fellow band members, eventually quitting the group in the late '80s to launch a career as a rapper under the name Dee Dee King.
Lead singer Joey Ramone, born Jeffrey Hyman, died in April 2001 of lymphoma, a form of cancer. He was 49. The other two founding members are Johnny and Tommy Ramone; the four adopted the common last name after forming the band in 1974 in New York City. Their first album, "Ramones," was released in 1976.
Many of the Ramones' best-known songs dealt with teen angst: "Beat on the Brat," "I Wanna Be Sedated," "Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue," "Teenage Lobotomy," "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker."
Dee Dee Ramone was one of the band's major songwriters, and among his better-known songs was "Chinese Rock" -- a tale of going on the street to score heroin, co-written with Johnny Thunders, a punk rock icon who became an overdose victim.
Though the Ramones were critically acclaimed, they never cracked the Top 40. But they built a loyal following by frequent touring.
British punk bands such as the Sex Pistols and Clash received most of the media attention. But both bands were schooled by the Ramones' tour of England that began on the U.S. Bicentennial -- July 4, 1976.
"They're the daddy punk group of all time," Joe Strummer, lead singer of the Clash, once told Spin magazine.
Dee Dee Ramone never again played with the band after leaving in the '80s, though he contributed a few songs to his former mates. The Ramones disbanded in 1996.