This is an interview that I conducted on September 7, 1992 with the legendary, punk-rock icon- Dee Dee Ramone. The interview was conducted in his hotel room in downtown Buffalo, NY, a few hours before he hit the stage with his new band – Dee Dee Ramone and the Chinese Dragons at the Continental night club. It was quite the interview, Dee Dee was kind, but maybe a little high judging from the debris on his hotel room table.
I’ve done many interviews since this one, but it still ranks as one of my favorite. I decided to dust it off and make it available for everyone to read for the first time in 28 years. I hope you enjoy it.
By Thomas S. Orwat, Jr.
Buffalo, NY – There’s an old adage that states, “Old Chevys don’t die, they just go faster.” Well, the same can be said for ex-Ramone, bassist Dee Dee Ramone. After a three-year hiatus from performing (his last outing was as rapper, Dee Dee King), Dee Dee is back with a new group, The Chinese Dragons, and they’re out for vengeance. The band played Buffalo last September, and I paid a visit to Dee Dee’s hotel room for this exclusive interview. Dee Dee was quite the rambler. His trenchant remarks about his ex-band came across as quite indecisive and contradictory. He wanted to talk, but when the subject of the Ramones came up, he seemed rather uncomfortable discussing it. After I asked him why he left the Ramones, in the midst of his answer, he asked me to leave. I really think he ultimately regrets his decision to leave the Ramones, but, you be the judge. So fasten your seat-belts, and, hey, ho, Let’s Go!
Thomas S. Orwat, Jr. – There seems to be a lot of speculation on which type of music your new band, The Chinese Dragons, plays. Some people think it’s a rap band because of your Dee Dee King projects.
Dee Dee Ramone – Well, that’s understandable, I guess, but I think that somebody’s been trying to spread some band rumors about me. You know, they’re probably not being realistic. I’m gonna play some rock, and I know that the Ramones are going around saying that I’m doing rap, but that was last year. So, maybe it’s my fault, because I haven’t played for so long.
TSOjr – Is your “Dee Dee King” phase over?
DDR – Yeah, yeah. Really, I wanted to do Dee Dee King because I had heard that recent Johnny Winter album, and Stevie Ray Vaughn’s last one. I started liking blues again. I started using the last name, King, because of B.B. King, and I really wanted to play blues, and I wanted to do something all by myself. I don’t know why, I like rap music and I like blues, but then, I got sidetracked and didn’t listen to blues, and started getting more into rap. Rap was like punk music when that first started.
At first, I thought it was the street music, and anyone could do it.It was instant music culture in New York, at least. I was attracted to it, and I wanted to do rap because I wanted to learn how to write it. I wanted to write a fantasy story instead of some autobiographical experience. I wanted to cheer up. I would always write about some depressing personal experience, then I invented this cartoon character (Dee Dee King), and I thought it would be funny to identify with people like Fred Sanford, in my fantasy. That’s how I felt, like an old complainer. You know, like, I live in a junkyard. I don’t know why I was like that, I just felt like a second class-type citizen. To me, it was a riot.
Now, I play rock again. I still go through phases; sometimes I’ll listen to punk rock, and then I’ll go back to listening to blues, like B.B. King and Albert King, which I never used to listen to. I used to like listening to old Fleetwood Mac, without the girls, when they were a blues band. I also like things like Pantera’s album, and I heard the new Ramones album today. I thought there would be songs I would really hate, but it wasn’t bad at all. I don’t really like them, but I don’t dislike them either; I don’t know why. We were always like that, out of our minds. But, you know, I could never work with them again.
TSOjr – Is there some animosity between you and them?
DDR – Yeah, yeah. You know, they’re a big jip. I just don’t like them. They’re no fun. They have to be the way they are. You have to be like that when you’re around them. You know, it’s just not me anymore. I want to have some fun and, of course, I always do well as it when I do it. I’m lucky, I got help, and I got good people and all. But, we’re not driving each other crazy. I got my sense of humor back. I was the worst one in a lot of ways. I got all my bad faults, all my defects,from the Ramones. I grew up with them, so I became a product of that environment.
TSOjr – What are your future plans?
DDR – Well, I’m going to play New York City on my birthday, September 18th. I’m playing the club, The Bank. That’s where G.G. Allin was going to play, and they didn’t let him.
TSOjr – That guy’s crazy. Hasn’t he totally lost it by now?
DDR – Yeah, he’s in jail again. Rumor has it, he plans on killing himself on stage this upcoming Halloween. Well, if we say anything, and if he read it, he’d definitely do it. Out of spite, or some insane reason. But, I think he’ll do it. Oh God, I hope he doesn’t hear me say that. He’s in jail for some horrible thing. He was on probation, and then he started doing all that stuff again. The, he had a big arrest in Florida, which he got out of. I think he’s in Jackson Prison, in Illinois. But, he’s gonna get out in time for Halloween, unless he does something in there. It’s the liquor that makes him that way. He’s fine until he starts drinking, and then he has a complete personality change. I knew him for years before. I just didn’t know he was like that. He was just this kid that would give me his records, and I sort of admired him for making his own records. Then, I saw one of his videos, and I was shocked. But, his music is great,kind of like the Ramones. I loved his music.
TSOjr -Are any songs from The Ramones included in your current set list?
DDR – We do “I Don’t Want to Walk Around With You” and, we also do “Ace Of Spades,” by Motorhead.
TSOjr – What a coincidence, I just interviewed Wurzel a couple of days ago. He said they really love the Ramones, and they even wrote a song entitled “Ramones.”
DDR – Yeah, I don’t get along with those guys. Lemmy used to be my friend, and I was thinking, you know, I think he said something bad about me in that song. Like, it was fucked up that I left. He liked the Ramones, I don’t think he likes me. Maybe I was too much of a pain. I don’t know who was more of a pain, me or him. But, I used to hang out with them, and I always liked Motorhead songs. That’s why I’m doing one.
TSOjr – What led to your decision to leave the Ramones?
DDR – To grow up, because I had to. I had no concept of reality. I’ve been playing straight from 17 to 38, never a change. I didn’t know any other way. I never did anything on my own. I was just led around like a blind person. Actually, it was more like the blind leading the blind. I wanted to see the other side of life. I wanted to change. It wasn’t even the band, that much. It was my own life. You know, I said, I want to have fun. I’d like to go to a city for once and walk around, and see what it actually looks like. I’ve been to London, and actually lived there, because I was working there, and never really saw it. The only thing I really saw was the street that the studio was on. It was the same way with Detroit, until I moved there. And they (Ramones) were nasty to me, bullying me. It was three against one. No one was on my side. There were all against me. You gotta go now.
TSOjr – Oh, alright. Thanks for your time.