Thomas Erdelyi (born Erdélyi Tamás; January 29, 1949 – July 11, 2014), also known by his stage name Tommy Ramone, was a Hungarian American record producer and musician. He was the drummer of the influential punk rock band the Ramones for four years. He had been diagnosed with bile duct cancer, and was in hospice care following unsuccessful treatment for it when he died on July 11, 2014.
- 2 Producer and drummer for the Ramones
- 3 Behind the scenes with the Ramones
- 4 Illness and death
- 5 Discography with the Ramones
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Erdélyi was Jewish, and was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1949, to Jewish parents who had survived the Holocaust by being hidden by neighbors, though many of his relatives were victims of the Nazis. The family emigrated to the US when Ramone was aged four and he grew up in Forest Hills, New York. Tommy and guitarist John Cummings (later to be dubbed "Johnny Ramone") performed together in a mid-60's four-piece garage band called the Tangerine Puppets while in high school. In 1970, Erdelyi was an assistant engineer for the production of the Jimi Hendrix album Band of Gypsys.
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 finding 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.
In a 2007 interview with the BBC, Ramone said the the band had been heavily influenced by the 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."
He 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.
Dee Dee, in his books, expressed resentment towards Tommy for having it "together" more than anyone else in the band, being able to cook himself dinner and organize his life in a much more functional manner, without the psychosis or addiction problems that Dee Dee himself suffered from. In contrast to everyone else in the band, Tommy was seemingly "normal," though there are accounts of him partying with the band and driving them around in his car in the early days.
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.
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 double DVD of the band's greatest 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.
Tommy Ramone died at his home in Queens, New York City, on July 11, 2014, aged 65. He had been receiving hospice care following unsuccessful treatment for cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer). Tommy was the last of the original band members.
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 club in the Bowery area of New York, and touring 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 had also said: "One 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."