R. Hell Site Forum Message
a few words about Dee Dee
|Posted by:||Richard Hell (in forum heading)|
|Posted on:|| 10 Jun 2002|| |
I was surprised to hear about Dee Dee but it's amazing how quickly something that's already happened seems inevitable. I'm not really that intrigued about the circumstances. I just assumed he was using, without it seeming important to know. But people seem curious about it. My best information, reliable enough for me, is that he really wasn't doing narcotics and hadn't for years, that this was an aberration and that's partly why it was an overdose--he had no tolerance. But I don't know any of it for sure.
I'd hardly seen him since the seventies, but there was a year or so around 1975 when we spent a lot of time together. He was a riot. His permanent number was to be the dumbbell. He was so funny. It was like Marilyn Monroe. It was a kind of defense, obviously, everybody has them, but mainly it was his style. He was neurotic and temperamental too (and I think those things probably increased with age as usual). And he was pretty! Boy did that hair sparkle. He had this hygiene thing. He used to take four or five showers a day.
I always thought of him as the core of the Ramones. Of course everybody was vital in that group--though in a real way their model was the "boy band," primarily the Bay City Rollers, or like Menudo, where anybody can be replaced when they get too old or cranky--but my impression was always that Dee Dee was the main songwriter, that the purity and spirit and catchiness of their best songs were Dee Dee's talent and instincts at work. His mixture of nonstop furious aggression as a bass player with his young-kid dumb sweetness and (funny) honesty was the essence of Ramoneness too. It was Dee Dee who shouted out "one-two-three-four" as fast as he could to get the songs going. It's inevitable that Joey's end will get more attention probably, since he was the lead singer and Dee Dee left the group a few years before, but Dee Dee was the exemplary Ramone to me. I think he had the biggest influence on other bands too, as a songwriter, bass player, and stage presence. Sid Vicious definitely idolized him.
The personal story I always remember about Dee Dee, well, there are two. There was the time he auditioned for Television in 1973 as a guitar player and we told him we'd try something in "C" and he put his fingers in place on the strings on his guitar neck and looked up at us questioningly and we had to shake our heads, "no," and then he moved his fingers around on the frets a little and looked up again, like a little puppy, and we had to shake our heads, "no," again... It was really funny. Then a few years later after we'd been good friends for a while when I did an interview with the band for a story I wanted to write about them (before they had a record contract) and Dee Dee was explaining about the songs they'd written and he told me the first song they'd written was "I Don’t Wanna Walk Around With You," and then "I Don’t Wanna Get Involved With You," and "I Don’t Wanna Go Down to the Basement," etc., etc.: I Don't Wanna this and I Don't Wanna that... And Dee Dee goes, "We didn’t write a positive song until 'Now I Want to Sniff Some Glue.'"
I don't know what else to say. It's strange to see us dropping away.
But not that strange I guess.
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