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Dee Dee Ramone found dead; OD suspected

Dee Dee Ramone, in a picture taken from his official Web site, is seen here in Hollywood, California, last November.  

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Dee Dee Ramone, bassist and one of the founding members of the seminal punk band the Ramones, was found dead in his Hollywood home, the Los Angeles coroner's office said Thursday. He was 49.

Ramone's death apparently was the result of an accidental drug overdose, said Katie Elliot, spokeswoman for Ramone's manager.

Drug paraphernalia, including a syringe, reportedly were found in the kitchen of the home. Elliot said it is not known what kind of drug was involved.

The Associated Press reported the bassist was found dead Wednesday night by his wife, Barbara.

The coroner's office did not say what drug was suspected of causing Ramone's death, the AP reported. An autopsy was performed Thursday, but conclusions about the cause of death were deferred pending toxicological tests, spokesman David Campbell told the AP. Those results could take several weeks.

The Ramones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year. Dee Dee Ramone was one of three surviving original members of the pioneering punk band; lead singer Joey Ramone, born Jeffrey Hyman, died in April 2001 of lymphoma.

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The other original members are Tommy Erdelyi, who took the name Tommy Ramone and was also the group's manager; and John Cummings, who took the name Johnny Ramone. Tommy Ramone was eventually replaced by Mark Bee (Marky Ramone), who was in turn replaced by Richard Beau (Richie Ramone).

Dee Dee Ramone left the band in 1989 and was replaced by Christopher John Ward, aka C.J. Ramone.

Founded in Queens in 1974, the Ramones soon took up residency at New York club CBGB, playing dozens of shows before they were signed.

The group is credited with bringing a wider audience to the New York downtown music scene of the late 1970s, which, inspired by bands such as the New York Dolls and the Stooges, grew to include bands including Blondie, the Patti Smith Group, Richard Hell and the Voidoids, Television and Talking Heads.

The band's music was described as "pure rock and roll" from its first, self-titled release in 1976.

The Ramones' first album, released in 1976, helped lead the way for the mid- and late-1970s New York City downtown music scene, which also included Blondie, Television, and Richard Hell and the Voidoids.  

The Ramones' songs, which were often played at breakneck speeds and seldom lasted longer than three minutes, included "Sheena is a Punk Rocker," "I Wanna Be Sedated," "Blitzkrieg Bop," and "Rock 'n Roll High School."

The group was extremely influential. A 1976 tour of Great Britain helped bring about the punk/New Wave explosion in that country in the late '70s. Several notable producers, including Phil Spector, Todd Rundgren, and Graham Gouldman, tried their hands at recording the group, with mixed results.

After leaving the band, Dee Dee Ramone briefly became a rapper, then was involved with an ill-fated punk supergroup including the Dolls' Johnny Thunders and the Dead Boys' Stiv Bators. In recent years, he formed a Ramones cover band and became a painter. He also wrote an autobiography, "Lobotomy: Surviving the Ramones."

The Ramones played its last show in 1996, after which members parted ways.


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