When Dee Dee Ramone quit punk rock to become a rapper

Dee Dee Ramone was a great character. As well as being the bassist for iconic New York punk band The Ramones, he was also the band’s primary songwriter in his career with the band, which spanned from 1974 to 1989.

His life walking the streets of the Big Apple informed the band’s varied and often dark and sardonic lyrics. His songs had themes ranging from male prostitution to politics and even more mundane topics, like visiting Rockaway Beach, Joey Ramone’s hometown.

He was initially the lead vocalist for the band until they quickly found out that he couldn’t sing and play bass at the same time. This led to the band’s original drummer, Joey, taking on the vocal duties – and what a decision that turned out to be.

It was also Dee Dee who first suggested adopting the band name The Ramones after reading that ex-Beatle Paul McCartney had checked into hotels under the pseudonym “Paul Ramon”. He added the “e” to the end of the last name, and all of the band members agreed to adopt the last name as an embodiment of their unity.

The Ramones’ unit would become more and more fractured over the course of their careers, a factor that would lead the group to have a rotating formation. In 1987, Dee Dee was particularly fed up with punk. Typically Dee Dee surprised us all with his brief foray into the rap world. After leaving the iconic punks in 1989, he said, “I was fed up with the Ramones when I quit and really got into rap. I thought it was the new punk rock. LL Cool J was my biggest idol.

Rap turned Dee Dee’s head a few years before he left the band. At this time, he was trying to stay sober from his heroin addiction, as each member of the group was trying to fight their own respective addictions and demons.

Apparently Dee Dee showed up to rehearsals one day, donning gold chains and spiky hair, and definitely told them he was going to be a rapper. Then he tried to work in the moonlight as one. Under the nickname ‘Dee Dee King’ he released the album Standing in the spotlight in 1987.

He released the single “Funky Man,” and it’s so terrible that it’s widely regarded as one of the worst musical endeavors of all time, and the chorus is hilarious. I thought they said he was trying to forget about drugs? Unsurprisingly, the album failed miserably. He then quickly returned to what he knew best; punk. Dee Dee has had a variety of short-lived projects including Sprokkett and a brief stint with GG Allin’s band. Ironically, he then continued to perform songs he had written for the Ramones with his band The Spikey Tops.

True legend, this strange flirtation with rap is not a scourge in Dee Dee’s career; instead, he serves to create a larger than life caricature of him, making him one of the most unique and hilarious characters to ever exist in rock.

Listen to “Funky Man” below.

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About Carman F. Black

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