In a manner of speaking, Friday marked the end of an era. Tommy Ramone, the last surviving original member of pioneer New York punk act The Ramones, died on Friday at the age of 62. He had been in hospice care after unsuccessful treatment for bile duct cancer.
The news was confirmed late last night by a post on The Ramones’ official Facebook page:
We are saddened to announce the passing of Tommy Ramone (nee Erdelyi), the original drummer for the Ramones, earlier today, 11 July 2014.
“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.” – Tommy Ramone, 1978
Born Erdélyi Tamás (Thomas Erdelyi, Americanized version) in Budapest, Hungary in 1952, Tom emigrated to Queens, NY with his family as a child, eventually playing in a band called Tangerine Puppets with guitarist John Cummings (later to be known as Johnny Ramone). The original Ramones formed in Forrest Hills, Queens in 1974, consisting of Tommy on drums, Johnny on guitar, Jeffrey Hyman (aka Joey Ramone) on vocals, and Douglas Colvin (aka Dee Dee Ramone) on bass. Tommy produced and played drums on the band’s first three albums—Ramones (1976), Leave Home (1977) and Rocket to Russia (1978), which many music historians and critics credit as laying the groundwork for the emerging punk rock movement. He left the band in 1978, but continued to help with production on subsequent albums afterward.
While The Ramones’ lineup changed regularly over the years until finally calling it quits in the mid-1990s, the original four Ramones are considered to have had the most lasting impact on the evolution of rock music, with hundreds of noteworthy bands citing them as influence. Tommy’s passing means all four of the original members are now gone.
RIP, Tommy Ramone. You will be missed.