Tommy Ramone

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Tommy Ramone
Ramone in 2008
Ramone in 2008
Background information
Birth nameTamás Erdélyi
Born(1949-01-29)January 29, 1949
Budapest, Hungary
OriginNew York City, U.S.
DiedJuly 11, 2014(2014-07-11) (aged 65)
New York City, U.S.
  • Musician
  • record producer
  • Drums
  • guitar
Years active1965–2014
Formerly ofRamones

Thomas Erdelyi (born Tamás Erdélyi, [ˈærdeji ˈtɒmaːʃ]; January 29, 1949 – July 11, 2014), known professionally as Tommy Ramone, was a Hungarian-American musician.[1][2] He was the drummer for the influential punk rock band the Ramones from its debut in 1974 to 1978, later serving as its producer, and was the longest-surviving original member of the Ramones.


Tamás Erdélyi was born on January 29, 1949,[3][4][5] in Budapest. His Jewish parents[6] were professional photographers,[3] who survived the Holocaust by being hidden by neighbors. Many of his relatives were killed by the Nazis.[4]

The family left Hungary during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. In 1957 he emigrated with his family to the United States.[7] Initially settling in the South Bronx, the family moved up to the middle-class neighborhood of Forest Hills in Queens, New York.[8] Verona Estates in Forest Hills was the place where Tamás grew up and later described as "home sweet home".[9][10] He changed his name to Thomas Erdelyi.[3]

In high school, Tommy played guitar in a mid-1960s, four-piece garage band, the Tangerine Puppets, with a schoolmate and guitarist, John Cummings, the future Johnny Ramone.[3][11] After leaving school at 18,[10] he started working as an assistant engineer at the Record Plant studio, where he worked on the production of the 1970 Jimi Hendrix album Band of Gypsys.[12]

Producer and drummer for the Ramones[edit]

Tommy (far right) with the Ramones in 1977

When the Ramones first came together, with Johnny Ramone on guitar, Dee Dee Ramone on bass and Joey Ramone on drums, Erdelyi was supposed to be the manager, but, even though he never played drums before,[13] was drafted as the band's drummer when Joey became the lead singer, after realizing that he couldn't keep up with the Ramones' increasingly fast tempos. "Tommy Ramone, who was managing us, finally had to sit down behind the drums, because nobody else wanted to," Dee Dee later recalled.[14]

He remained as drummer from 1974 to 1978, playing on and co-producing their first three albums, Ramones, Leave Home, and Rocket to Russia, as well as the live album It's Alive.[15] His final show as a Ramones drummer was at Johnny Blitz benefit event at CBGB in New York on May 4, 1978.[16]

In a 2007, interview with the BBC, Tommy Ramone said the band had been heavily influenced by 1970s, glam-rock band the New York Dolls, by singer-songwriter Lou Reed and by pop-art figure Andy Warhol. He said, "The scene that developed at CBGB wasn't [for] a teenage or garage band; there was an intellectual element and that's the way it was for The Ramones."[17]

Behind the scenes with the Ramones[edit]

Tommy Ramone was replaced on drums in 1978 by Marky Ramone,[18] but handled band management and co-production for their fourth album, Road to Ruin; he later returned as producer for their eighth album, 1984's Too Tough to Die.[19]

Tommy Ramone wrote "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" and the majority of "Blitzkrieg Bop" while bassist Dee Dee suggested the title.[11] He and Ed Stasium played all the guitar solos on the albums he produced, as Johnny Ramone largely preferred playing rhythm guitar.[20] In the 1980s he produced the Replacements album Tim, as well as Redd Kross's Neurotica.[21] He returned to the producer's chair in 2002, overseeing the reunion of former Ramones C.J. and Marky for their recording of Jed Davis' Joey Ramone tribute "The Bowery Electric".[22]

On October 8, 2004, on what would have been Johnny Ramone's 56th birthday, he played as a Ramone once again, when he joined C.J. Ramone, Daniel Rey, and Clem Burke (also known as Elvis Ramone) in the "Ramones Beat Down on Cancer" concert. In October 2007 in an interview to promote It's Alive 1974–1996 a two-DVD set of the band's best televised live performances[citation needed] he paid tribute to his deceased bandmates:

They gave everything they could in every show. They weren't the type to phone it in, if you see what I mean.

Ramone and Claudia Tienan (formerly of underground band the Simplistics) performed as a bluegrass-based folk duo called Uncle Monk. Ramone stated: "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."[23] He joined songwriter Chris Castle, Garth Hudson, Larry Campbell and the Womack Family Band in July 2011 at Levon Helm Studios for Castle's album Last Bird Home.[24]

Illness and death[edit]

Tommy Ramone died at his home in Ridgewood, Queens, New York, on July 11, 2014, aged 65.[3] He had received hospice care following unsuccessful treatment for bile duct cancer.[25][26][27][28] His body is interred at New Montefiore Cemetery, in West Babylon, Suffolk County, New York.

In The Independent, Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith wrote that "before Tommy left the line-up, the Ramones had already become one of the most influential punk bands of the day, playing at the infamous CBGB in the Bowery area of New York and touring for each album incessantly." In response to Ramone's death, the band's official Twitter account had been tweeting previous quotes from band members, including his own 1976 comment that New York was the "perfect place to grow up neurotic". He added: "One of the reasons that the Ramones were so unique and original was that they were four original, unique people."[29][30]

Writing in Variety, Cristopher Morris said: "Tommy's driving, high-energy drum work was the turbine that powered the leather-clad foursome's loud, antic sound."[25]


With the Ramones[edit]

With Uncle Monk[edit]



  1. ^ Harper, Jason (June 26, 2008). "Tommy Ramone Gives the Mountain Music Shoppe a Brush with CBGB". The Pitch. Retrieved October 25, 2011.
  2. ^ Winborne, Josh (June 25, 2008). "Punk rock legend enjoying venture into old-time music". Archived from the original on April 22, 2009. Retrieved October 25, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d e Sisario, Ben (July 12, 2014). "Tommy Ramone Dies at 65; He Gave Punk Rock Its Pulse". The New York Times. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
  4. ^ a b Ballon, Marc (February 1, 2007). "Book reveals secrets from the Patriarchs of Punk: CBGBs was really Heebie Jeebies". The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. Archived from the original on August 7, 2011. Erdélyi kept his Jewish identity so well concealed that not even Danny Fields, the Ramones' first manager (himself a Jew), knew of Tommy Ramone's religious background until now. Tommy Ramone was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1949, and his parents barely escaped the Nazis by hiding out with friends during the war. Most of Erdélyi's extended family perished in the Holocaust.
  5. ^ Melnic and Meyer, p. 18.
  6. ^ Blumenthal, Ralph (June 12, 2009). "Punk, and Jewish: Rockers Explore Identity". The New York Times. Retrieved August 11, 2013.
  7. ^ Brumfield, Ben (July 13, 2014). "Punk rock icon Tommy Ramone die". CNN. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
  8. ^ Sweeting, Adam (July 13, 2014). "Tommy Ramone obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
  9. ^ "Ramones – End Of The Century – Extras 4"
  10. ^ a b Schudel, Matt (July 12, 2014). "Tommy Ramone, the Ramones' original drummer and driving influence, dies at 65". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
  11. ^ a b Prindle, Mark (2003). "Tom Erdelyi – 2003". Mark's Record Reviews. Retrieved October 25, 2011.
  12. ^ "Tommy Ramone, the Ramones' original drummer and driving influence, dies at 65". The Telegraph. July 14, 2014. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
  13. ^ "A Tribute To Tommy Ramone". August 25, 2014. Retrieved May 5, 2020.
  14. ^ McNeil and McCain, pp. 182–183.
  15. ^ Petridis, Alexis (January 6, 2005). "Last Ramone standing". The Guardian. Retrieved October 25, 2011.
  16. ^ George, Gimarc (July 1, 2005). Punk Diary: The Ultimate Trainspotter's Guide to Underground Rock, 1970–1982. Backbeat Books. p. 133. ISBN 978-0-87930-848-3. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
  17. ^ "Ramones punk band founder Tommy dies, aged 65". BBC News. London, UK: BBC. July 12, 2014. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
  18. ^ Gregory, James (May 8, 2005). "Tommy Ramone: The Last Ramone". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 25, 2011.
  19. ^ Beeber, Steven (July 8, 2008). "Gabba gabba hayride". The Phoenix. Retrieved October 25, 2011.
  20. ^ Coms, Sharby. "How The West Was Lost". Mojo (Special Limited Edition: Punk): 94.
  21. ^ Meyer, Frank (January 24, 2003). "Redd Kross Neurotica Re-Issue". KNAC.COM. Retrieved October 25, 2011.
  22. ^ "The Bowery Electric Crew". RamonesWorld. Retrieved April 22, 2012.
  23. ^ Runtagh, Jordan (July 12, 2014). "Tommy Ramone, Last Original Member Of The Ramones, Dead At 65". VH1. Archived from the original on July 16, 2014. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
  24. ^ Richards, Dave (September 15, 2011). "Americana songwriter, Womacks play Edinboro, Erie gigs". Retrieved August 11, 2013.
  25. ^ a b Morris, Christopher (July 11, 2014). "Tommy Ramone, Founding Member of Influential Punk Band, Dies". Variety. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
  26. ^ Metzger, Richard (July 11, 2014). "Tommy Ramone, RIP: last original member of Ramones passes". Dangerous Minds. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
  27. ^ Marotta, Michael (July 11, 2014). "Report: R.I.P. Tommy Ramone (1952–2014), the last living original member of the Ramones". Vanyaland. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
  28. ^ "Tommy Ramone dies aged 62". The Guardian. Australian Associated Press. July 12, 2014. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
  29. ^ Eleftheriou-Smith, Loulla-Mae (July 12, 2014). "Tommy Ramone dies: Last surviving founder and drummer seminal punk band The Ramones dies". The Independent. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
  30. ^ @RamonesOfficial (July 9, 2014). ""One of the reasons that the #Ramones were so unique and original was that they were four original, unique people." – Tommy Ramone #punk". Twitter. Retrieved July 13, 2014.


External links[edit]