INTERVIEW WITH VERA RAMONE-KING IN 2009
Copyright 2008-2009 -> for everything in this page by Short And Sweet
NYC internet magazine and Jari-Pekka Laitio-Ramone.
Interview is released in Short And
Sweet NYC on September 22, 2009. Original interview text is
here. There is no mention who of Short And Sweet NYC interviewed
Vera. I had wanted to
interview, as after some time or years this interview
might disapper from Internet.
Photo of Dee Dee and Vera is taken in
Germany in mid 80's by great Ramones fan and photographer Lothar Felkel
who knew Dee Dee well. Photo is also
in my second book Rock In Peace:
Dee Dee And Joey Ramone.
This interview is related to the book which Phoenix Books & Audio
company released officially on June 1, 2009. Book is called Poisoned
Heart: I Married Dee Dee Ramone (The Ramones Years) by Dee Dee's
ex-wife Vera Davies (writer name: Vera Ramone King).
Poisoned Heart: I Married Dee Dee Ramone (The Ramones Years) has 256
pages and it is an hard cover book.
more of the book here.
INTERVIEW TEXT BEGIN WITH INTRODUCTION
Since America's first punk rock group debuted over 30 years ago,
countless books have been written on the four non-brothers from Queens,
whose unadulterated rock 'n' roll fueled with lyrics of beating on brats
and sniffing glue would forever inspire bored teenagers to pick up a
guitar. Despite their uniformed look of shaggy bowl haircuts, motorcycle
jackets, and high-top Converse sneakers, The Ramones' three founding
members were anything but. Joey was the band's towering front man who
often hid behind oval shaped glasses, only to shed his shy demeanor on
stage in front of thousands. Johnny was the no-nonsense guitarist whose
stern, disciplined attitude made him the band's "big brother." Then
there was Dee Dee, a gifted songwriter and bassist who inhabited The
Ramones' rock star spirit. While Joey and Johnny would later pass away
from cancer, Dee Dee was found dead at age 50 from a heroin overdose. He
would be remembered not solely for his music, but for his out-of-control
behavior. Seven years later, his ex-wife would finally come clean and
set the record straight.
Vera Ramone King released her controversial tell-all, Poisoned
Heart: I Married Dee Dee Ramone (The Ramones Years) depicting what the
legendary musician was really like. Although she does reveal how his
addictions and struggles with bipolar disorder made him a crazed wife
beater who constantly yearned for a fix, she also explores Dee Dee's
generous side. Her story also discusses the rise and fall of one of
music's greatest bands. I had the pleasure of speaking with Vera about
the two sides of Dee Dee, the infamous Ramones "curse," what could have
happened between Sid and Nancy, and how this Queens-based band would
forever make an impact throughout the world.
Short And Sweet NYC: Why was it important
to tell your story of what it was like being married to Dee Dee
Vera: It's probably been 20 years since we
broke up. After he passed, I felt that there was nobody doing anything
to keep his legacy alive. Joey's brother is coming out with his book in
December. People have been keeping Johnny's legacy alive with the help
of his widow. Nobody was doing anything for Dee Dee. A lot of people
just remember the negative things about him, such as being a drug-crazed
person. Yeah, he was a lot of that, but there was also so much more to
him and I wanted it to be told. He was extremely funny and loved to buy
presents for everybody. It was Christmas all the time with Dee Dee.
There were just certain things that I wanted to be known and for him to
be remembered as more than a rock 'n' roll addict.
Short And Sweet NYC: When did you begin
Vera: It was July 2007 and it took me
two to three weeks. I would get up at about 7AM and sit in my pajamas
until 10-11 PM and just write longhand. After I wrote the book, I had a
friend come after work and she would put the chapters on the computer.
We incorporated pictures into each chapter, which all of it got changed
down the line. It's difficult sometimes to pick the right person for
your project because everyone wants to change it and I was pretty
adamant on how I wanted it to be written. It took a while to get the
right people on board, especially when attorneys are involved. That's
why the book took longer to come out. It wasn't so much writing it, but
everything else that comes after that.
Short And Sweet NYC: The book has a very
personal feel to it.
Vera: It starts at the beginning when Dee
Dee was very young. He was really cute and as you go through the book
you can tell what the drugs did to him. It's really sad when you get to
the last page. I remember one of my friend's 13-year-old son saw the
book and she told him, 'This was Dee Dee when he was young and this was
Dee Dee when he died. This is what drugs do to you, so don't do drugs.'
Short And Sweet NYC: It must have been
very difficult in thinking about a lot of specific memories with Dee Dee
because not all of them were pleasant. Which memory was the hardest for
you to write about?
Vera: There were several obviously. I
stopped two to three times writing the book. I would look at my husband
and say, 'I can't do this anymore.' It was just too difficult. I had
buried so much in the back of my head that I didn't want to remember a
lot of the bad stuff. Just at that very moment, (psychic) Linda Drake
would call me. I haven't heard from her in months and she would say,
.Vera, you still writing the book? Dee Dee is standing here and he made
me call you and it's so important. He wants you to finish this book.. I
would give it another shot and I would do the same thing again and she
would then call. It just couldn't be a coincidence. I wrote about the
good, bad, ugly, and everything in between. I don't hold back and I'm
very honest. The hardest thing to write about was his passing. It was
very difficult to remember hearing those words. It was what I had
dreaded hearing my whole life.
Short And Sweet NYC: Did you feel a sense
of peace after you let out all of these emotions that have been built up
for so long?
Vera: When I finished writing that last
paragraph, I probably cried for an hour. It was just so final. It makes
me tear up now.
Short And Sweet NYC: Everything you went
through with Dee Dee, from the abuse to the heavy drug use, could have
easily made some women walk away or so we think. But you didn't, you
stayed with him. Why?
Vera: I loved this man unconditionally. He
made some decisions at the end and one of them was going off his
medication, the other was leaving the band. I wasn't on the same page
with him. We split, but we kept in touch everyday for years after that.
We were best friends. It wasn't just losing a husband. It was losing my
friend, my soul mate. We practically grew up together. I had to start
all over again. What do you do when you don't work for 13 years and
you're no longer a rock wife? I had to go through different challenges,
but I did what I had to do. Sometimes life doesn't work out the way you
hoped it would and life isn't a fairy tale.
Short And Sweet NYC I noticed that you
mention Sid and Nancy several times in the book. You would mention them
when Dee Dee became abusive with you. Was it a big fear for your
relationship to end up like theirs?
Vera: Life is a parallel. Sid was just a
big fan of Dee Dee's that I could see where something like that could
happen. Yes, I did fear for my life. Dee Dee was bipolar and off his
medication. People do things that they're sorry for later when they're
not in the right frame of mind, but it's too late to take back.
Short And Sweet NYC: Speaking of Sid,
people continue to contemplate whether he really killed Nancy.
Vera: I don't believe that Sid killed
Nancy. The guy didn't have a mean bone in his body. I think it was an
accident and from what I understand, it was a drug deal gone bad. Sid
was probably passed out when that happened and when he woke up she was
dead and they thought he did it. But, if you knew Nancy then you would
know that she was the aggressor in that relationship. Sid was meek
compared to her, so I never believed that he killed her. The night that
Nancy was killed he had bought a knife that was a duplicate of the one
that Dee Dee had. We were supposed to go to the Chelsea Hotel and see
them before we went out on tour, but something just told me that it
wasn't a good idea. Less than 48 hours later, we were somewhere in Ohio
and we heard it on the news. We just sat there and looked at each other.
Sometimes you just have to go with your gut feeling and I'm glad that I
Short And Sweet NYC: You could have
easily focused on just the negative aspects of what it was like being
married to Dee Dee, but you also revealed his loving, generous side. Was
this a conscience choice?
Vera: Absolutely. It was part of the
reason why I wrote this book. People mostly remember his crazy behavior
and love of drugs. That wasn't the entire person, but nobody talked
about it. He had a great sense of humor. He could easily make fun of
himself and you could see that in his songwriting.
Short And Sweet NYC: What inspired Dee
Dee the rock star to pursue rap?
Vera: When we watched MTV he just fell in
love with all of these different rappers, like Jazzy Jeff, Fresh Prince,
Salt N Peppa, Run DMC, The Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, and LL Cool J.
Dee Dee loved to reinvent himself all the time and he got bored easily.
This was just another way for him to poke fun at himself instead of
doing drugs. He wanted to call himself Dee Dee Ramone, but the guys
wouldn't let him. Johnny was like, 'Ramones don't rap and you can't use
the name.' Dee Dee had just written 'Pet Cemetery' for Stephen King and
we were big fans of him. That's how Dee Dee King was born.
Short And Sweet NYC: One of the things
that stuck with me from Poisoned Heart is the infamous curse and how the
number 50 seems to be involved.
Vera: I don't even know if I believe in
curses, but it's ironic how they all passed within a year from each
other and all around the same age. Dee Dee was two months shy of his
50th birthday, Joey was two weeks shy of his 50th birthday, and Johnny
had just turned 50. Then Linda Stein was murdered savagely in her own
home. When I turned 50, I was diagnosed with brain cancer. That's when
it hit me. That's why I mentioned that crazy preacher guy in Tulsa after
one of our shows. It was raining out and these people were behind this
preacher chanting and repeating every word he was saying. None of us
spoke after we got back in the van. Dee Dee finally said, 'That guy gave
me the creeps!' We were all freaked out.
Short And Sweet NYC: Were they just
Vera: It was just that one guy and you
how those Columbine kids had long black coats that reached down to the
floor? The preacher was wearing one of those with a huge hat. He had a
bible in one hand and a crucifix in the other. There were these people
standing behind him, like followers. He went up to each Ramone and asked
them to repent for their sins. We didn't respond to him and he got
angry. He started chanting this thing. I didn't know what it was. It
felt like we were getting cursed while getting into the van.
Short And Sweet NYC: I do remember you
describing your ordeal with brain cancer in Poisoned Heart. How are you
Vera: I take each day as it comes. They
remove the one tumor that I had. I still have several more and they're
growing. However, I don't live each day thinking and worrying about
what's going to happen tomorrow. Right now I'm OK, but not everyday is a
good day. But, I'm happy, I'm living in Florida now, and I have a great
husband. He was so supportive of me writing the book. I don't think a
lot of men would feel that way. That's why I dedicated the book to him.
I never would have done it had he not been on board. Actually, when I
met Ken he didn't know who The Ramones were. I kinda liked that about
him. It was refreshing. My husband has listened to Dee Dee's music, read
his lyrics, and he admires him. It takes a certain kind of man to be
able to do that.
Short And Sweet NYC: It's amazing that
even after all of this time, The Ramones have a huge following. Why, in
your opinion, do they have such lasting power as a band?
Vera: I don't really know why. In the
beginning they couldn't get any airplay. If anyone dared played The
Ramones they would get fired. Today, when I go to the mall I see babies
in onesies with The Ramones on it. I'll even see a 60-year-old wearing a
Ramones t-shirt. They're more respected now than ever before. People are
still listening to them and it's become a rite of passage to grow up and
listen to The Ramones before you move on to other things.
Short And Sweet NYC: The Ramones were the
little band that could.
Vera: I know, right! They couldn't then,
but they can now. I still have about 27 demos that Dee Dee made that no
one has ever heard before. They've been sitting in a shoebox for the
last 20 years. I'm still hoping that one day I'll be able to put them
out for his fans. There are a lot of complicated legal issues with
copywriting a dead person's work. That's one of the reasons I haven't
done it. I'm looking for the right person to help me with this. I want
it to be done right.
Short And Sweet NYC: Now that you have a
more stable life, do you have any regrets in being the wife of Dee Dee
Vera: I have no regrets. Not one. I
wouldn't change a thing. I had a great life and spent it with someone
that I absolutely adored. I am who I am today because of everything I've
Short And Sweet NYC: You mentioned in
book that you felt there were many things left unsaid between you and
Dee Dee. After sharing your story, do you feel more at peace?
Vera: Absolutely. I know he knows. That's
all I'm going to say.
Short And Sweet NYC: What is the one
that you hope readers will get from Poisoned Heart?
Vera: I'd like them to remember Dee Dee
everything that he was. He loved his fans and was so appreciative of the
life he got to live when he was here. I also hope my book will raise
awareness on Bipolar Disorder. It's looked down upon and there are so
many people facing this problem that it's about time we open our eyes.
In the end, I want readers to remember Dee Dee's legacy. That's very
important to me.
As wrote in a beginning, interview is released in
Short And Sweet NYC on September 22, 2009.