The Ramones: Peter Mazel/Sunshine/Retna
Brian Hiatt
June 06, 2002 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Dee Dee Ramone, the original bassist and frequent lyricist for punk legends the Ramones, died Wednesday night in his Los Angeles home, according to a spokesperson for the L.A. County Coroner’s Office. A syringe was found at the scene, and coroners are investigating the death as a possible accidental drug overdose, spokesperson Craig Harvey tells Ramone’s wife found the bassist (born Douglas Colvin) lying unresponsive around 8:25 p.m. Wednesday; paramedics pronounced him dead 15 minutes later. He was 50 years old.

Dee Dee is the second founding member of the Ramones to die — lead singer Joey Ramone succumbed to cancer last April. The bassist, who left the band in 1989 for an ill-fated career as a rapper, wrote the deadpan lyrics for such Ramones classics as ”Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment,” ”Sheena Is a Punk Rocker,” ”53rd and Third,” and ”Rockaway Beach.” When the Ramones first formed in Forest Hills, Queens, in 1974, Dee Dee was the band’s lead singer, though then-drummer Joey soon supplanted him.

Even after leaving the band, Dee Dee contributed his songwriting talents to the group, and he rejoined his former cohorts — minus Joey — as the Ramones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March. The band’s official website has posted this message in memory of Dee Dee: ”Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands/ Sing forth the honor of Dee Dee’s name /Make his praise glorious.”

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