Ramone in 2008
|Birth name||Erdélyi Tamás|
|Also known as||Thomas Erdelyi, Scotty, Tommy Ramone|
January 29, 1949|
|Origin||Forest Hills, Queens, New York, U.S.|
|Died||July 11, 2014
Ridgewood, Queens, New York, U.S.
|Genres||Punk rock, bluegrass|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, songwriter, record producer|
|Instruments||Drums, percussion, guitar, mandolin, vocals|
|Labels||Sire, Radioactive, Chrysalis|
|Associated acts||Ramones, Uncle Monk|
Thomas Erdelyi (born Erdélyi Tamás; January 29, 1949 – July 11, 2014), better known by his stage name Tommy Ramone, was a Hungarian American record producer, musician, and songwriter. He was the drummer for the influential punk rock band the Ramones for the first four years of the band's existence. He was the last surviving original member of the Ramones before his death.
Erdélyi Tamás was born on January 29, 1949, in Budapest, Hungary. Sometimes sources give his name as Tamas Erdelyi. He was born to Jewish parents, professional photographers, who had survived the Holocaust by being hidden by neighbors; many of his relatives were victims of the Nazis though. The family left Hungary during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. In 1957, he emigrated with his family to the United States. Initially settling in the South Bronx, the family moved up to the middle-class suburb of Forest Hills in Queens, New York. Forest Hills was the place where Erdélyi grew up. He changed his name to Thomas Erdelyi.
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. After leaving school, at 18, 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.
Producer and drummer for the Ramones
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 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.
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. His final show as a Ramones drummer was at Johnny Blitz benefit event at CBGB's in New York, USA on May 4, 1978.
In a 2007 interview with the BBC, Ramone said the band had been heavily influenced by 1970s hard-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."
Behind the scenes with the Ramones
Tommy Ramone was replaced on drums in 1978 by Marky Ramone, but handled band management and co-production for their fourth album, Road to Ruin; he later returned as producer for the eighth album, 1984's Too Tough to Die.
Tommy Ramone wrote "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" and the majority of "Blitzkrieg Bop" while bassist Dee Dee suggested the title. He and Ed Stasium played all the guitar solos on the albums he produced, as Johnny Ramone largely preferred playing rhythm guitar. In the 1980s he produced the Replacements album Tim, as well as Redd Kross's Neurotica.
On October 8, 2004, 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 2-DVD set of the band's best televised live performances 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." 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.
Illness and death
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's 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."
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." Biographer Everett True told the BBC "there are hundreds, there are thousands, there are millions of melodies happening in Ramones songs ... You hear their influence stretch across all of rock music from 1975 onwards ... you just hear it everywhere."
Discography with the Ramones
- Ramones (1976)
- Leave Home (1977)
- Rocket to Russia (1977)
- It's Alive (1979)
- Too Tough to Die (1984, producer only)
- NYC 1978 (2003)
Discography with Uncle Monk
- Uncle Monk (2006)
- McNeil, Legs; McCain, Gillian (2006). Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk. Grove Press. ISBN 9780802142641.
- Melnic, Monte A.; Meyer, Frank (2007). On the Road with the Ramones. Music Sales Group. ISBN 9781847721037.
- Harper, Jason (June 26, 2008). = 2190564 "Tommy Ramone Gives the Mountain Music Shoppe a Brush with CBGB". The Pitch. Retrieved October 25, 2011.
- Winborne, Josh (June 25, 2008). "Punk rock legend enjoying venture into old-time music". Branson.com. Retrieved October 25, 2011.
- Sisario, Ben (July 12, 2014). = 0 "Tommy Ramone Dies at 65; He Gave Punk Rock Its Pulse". The New York Times. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
- Melnic and Meyer, p. 18.
- Schudel, Matt (July 12, 2014). "Tommy Ramone, the Ramones’ original drummer and driving influence, dies at 65". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
- "Tommy Ramone, the Ramones’ original drummer and driving influence, dies at 65". The Telegraph. July 14, 2014. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
- Blumenthal, Ralph (June 12, 2009). = 0 "Punk, and Jewish: Rockers Explore Identity". The New York Times. Retrieved August 11, 2013.
- 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. Retrieved September 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.
- Brumfield, Ben (July 13, 2014). "Punk rock icon Tommy Ramone die". CNN. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
- Sweeting, Adam (July 13, 2014). "Tommy Ramone obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
- "Return of a Ramone...Tommy Ramone & Claudia Tienan Bow Bluegrass Duo Uncle Monk with Self-Titled Album Due Out May 22". PRWeb. February 4, 2007. Retrieved June 17, 2009.
- Prindle, Mark (2003). "Tom Erdelyi - 2003". Mark's Record Reviews. Retrieved October 25, 2011.
- McNeil and McCain, pp. 182–183.
- Petridis, Alexis (January 6, 2005). "Last Ramone standing". The Guardian. Retrieved October 25, 2011.
- George, Gimarc (July 1, 2005). Punk Diary: The Ultimate Trainspotter's Guide to Underground Rock, 1970-1982. Backbeat Books. p. 133. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
- "Ramones punk band founder Tommy dies, aged 65". BBC News (London, UK: BBC). July 12, 2014. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
- Gregory, James (May 8, 2005). "Tommy Ramone: The Last Ramone". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 25, 2011.
- Beeber, Steven (July 8, 2008). "Gabba gabba hayride". The Phoenix. Retrieved October 25, 2011.
- Coms, Sharby. "How The West Was Lost". Mojo (Special Limited Edition: Punk): 94.
- Meyer, Frank (January 24, 2003). = 1728 "Redd Kross Neurotica Re-Issue". KNAC.COM. Retrieved October 25, 2011.
- Runtagh, Jordan (July 12, 2014). "Tommy Ramone, Last Original Member Of The Ramones, Dead At 65". VH1. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
- Richards, Dave (September 15, 2011). = /20110915/ENTERTAINMENT0301/309149867 "Americana songwriter, Womacks play Edinboro, Erie gigs". GoErie.com. Retrieved August 11, 2013.
- Morris, Christopher (July 11, 2014). "Tommy Ramone, Founding Member of Influential Punk Band, Dies". Variety. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
- Metzger, Richard (July 11, 2014). "Tommy Ramone, RIP: last original member of Ramones passes". Dangerous Minds. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
- 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.
- "Tommy Ramone dies aged 62". The Guardian. Australian Associated Press. July 12, 2014. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
- 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.
- @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.