Tommy Ramone, the last surviving original member of seminal punk band Ramones, died on Saturday at his New York City home. Ramone was 65 and had been in hospice care after being treated for bile duct cancer.
— Ramones (@RamonesOfficial) July 12, 2014
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Ramone, whose real name was Erdelyi Tamas and who was known as Tom Erdelyi, played drums for the Ramones from their formation in 1974 until 1978. He played on the group's first three albums, 1976’s “Ramones,” 1977’s “Leave Home” and 1977’s “Rocket To Russia.” He stopped playing in the band because of personal conflicts and exhaustion but stayed with the band to produce two of their later albums.
Erdelyi was born in Hungary but raised in the Forest Hills neighborhood of Ridgewood, which is in New York City's working class borough of Queens. Erdelyi attended Forest Hills High School with the other three founding Ramones, Dee Dee, Johnny and Joey. Erdelyi met the three after playing in a garage band with guitarist Johnny Ramone.
Erdelyi originally served as the Ramones manager, but when a competent drummer couldn’t be found, Erdelyi picked up the sticks and like his bandmates, adopted the surname “Ramone,” in a style reminiscent of the 1960's pop groups who influenced them.
Widely regarded as one of the most influential punk bands, the Ramones gained fame with straightforward, loud and raw tunes. They got their start playing in New York City clubs, including the legendary CBGB alongside Blondie, Television and the Patti Smith Group. The Talking Heads’ first show was opening for the Ramones at CBGB’s in 1975.
Watch the visibly nervous Ramones play their first public show at CBGB on Aug. 16, 1974. The band had been formed just earlier that year (and CBGB had been founded the year prior). The Ramones were still two years away from releasing their first album, but someone remarkably filmed them play "Judy Is A Punk."
Along with his work with the Ramones, Tommy produced The Replacements’ first major label record, "Tim," in 1985 and a number of records throughout the 1980s and 1990s. The last Ramone to die before Tommy was Johnny, who died 10 years ago. Both Johnny and Joey died of cancer, the latter in 2001, and Dee Dee died of a drug overdose in 2002.
Watch Tommy and the gang play a blistering performance at the Rainbow in London during their peak in 1977.