Hard to believe that every one of the four original members of the Ramones is gone. Joey, Dee Dee and Johnny all died inside of three and a half years, and now original drummer (and producer) Tommy, passed on Friday, too, at the age of 65. He co-founded the New York band in 1974, and like the rest of the members, opted to change his last name to Ramone. Born Erdelyi Tamas in Budapest, Hungary, ‘Tommy’ would later comment that “It wasn’t just music in The Ramones: it was an idea … it was bringing back a whole feel that was missing in rock music – it was a whole push outwards to say something new and different. Originally it was just an artistic type of thing; finally I felt it was something that was good enough for everybody”.
When Johnny (gtr), Dee Dee (bass) and Joey (drums, originally) got together, Tommy was to be their manager but when Joey (who had a tough time keeping up on drums, and opted for lead vocals only), Tommy got behind the kit in the absence of anyone else who wanted to. And so he was the Ramones drummer til 1978, playing on a producing the first three albums (Ramones, Leave Home, Rocket to Russia) and one live album.
Tommy credited New York Dolls and Lou Reed for The Ramones’ direction.
He’d step away from the drums (to be replaced my Marky) but remained in the manager’s chair and co-produced the fourth album (Road to Ruin) and eventually returned to produce Ramones album #8 in 1984.
They say Tommy had it together more than any of the Ramones.
He’d go on to produce other bands too, including the album ‘Tim’ for Replacments (LOVE that band).
In 2004, Tommy Ramone was part of a bluegrass duo called Uncle Monk, and he noted that “There are a lot of similarities between punk and old-time music. Both are home-brewed music as opposed to schooled, and both have an earthy energy. And anybody can pick up an instrument and start playing.”
Tommy died at his home in Queens, New York, after having received hospice care following treatment for bile duct cancer.
You’ll find a relatively recent performance by Tommy Ramone of his early Ramones song ‘I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend’ following a couple other career highlights below.
RIP Tommy Ramone.