LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Dee Dee Ramone, the rock singer, artist and author who co-founded influential 1970s punk rock band The Ramones and went on to become a rap singer and a painter, has died, his agent said on Thursday.
Ramone, 49, was found dead on Wednesday night at his home in Los Angeles by his wife. The cause has not yet been determined, and an autopsy will be conducted, Chris Maggiore of Los Angeles-based talent agency Artists Worldwide told Reuters.
His death follows that of lead singer and band co-founder Joey Ramone, who died in April 2001 of lymphoma, also at age 49.
Ramone, born Douglas Colvin in Virginia in September 1952, grew up in Berlin with his military family, returning to the U.S. in his teenage years. He co-founded The Ramones in 1974 and played bass with the band until 1989.
Known for its chants of "Hey! Ho! Let's go!" and playing in jeans and leather jackets, the band has been called an influence on a number of modern recording artists, including top acts like U2, Pearl Jam and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
The band's songs were not tame, with titles like "The KKK Took My Baby Away," "Blitzkrieg Bop" and "Pet Sematary." Their first record, the 1976 The Ramones, is now considered one of punk rock's seminal albums.
After leaving the band, Ramone pursued a short career as a rapper under the name Dee Dee King, with little success.
In addition to his solo musical career, he moved on to writing and painting. Maggiore said Ramone had just finished writing his fifth book, which follows such titles as Lobotomy: Surviving the Ramones and Chelsea Horror Hotel.
During the 1980s, a number of The Ramones cleaned up from drug and alcohol addictions.
"He was sober for I don't know how many years," Maggiore said. Ramone produced a hand-written fan magazine called Takin' Dope that came out irregularly, with the last one being in December.
Maggiore said a benefit is being planned.
The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last March. A spokesman for the bandmembers said they had not prepared a statement yet.
Ramone is survived by his wife, the former Barbara Zampini.