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Tommy Ramone Dead: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

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Tommy Ramone, the last surviving founding member of the iconic punk band the Ramones, died Friday afternoon. There was conflicting information about Ramone’s age, but a family spokesman told Rolling Stone the rocker was 65.

The band announced on Twitter that Ramone had died at 12:15 in the Ridgewood section of Queens, New York. He had been suffering from bile duct cancer and had been in hospice care.

Here’s what you need to know about Ramone’s life and career:


1. He Was Born in Hungary & Was the Son of Holocaust Survivors

Tommy Ramone, Tommy Ramone dead, the Ramones

(Getty)

Ramone was born Thomas Erdelyi in 1949 in Budapest, Hungary. A Jew, he was the son of Holocaust survivors who hid in friends’ homes to elude the Nazis.

Ramone’s heritage is documented in the book Heebie-Jeebies at CBGB’s: A Secret History of Jewish Punk., You can buy the book here.

The Jewish Journal reported in a 2007 review of the book:

Erdelyi kept his Jewish identity so well concealed that not even Danny Fields, the Ramone’s first manager (himself a Jew), knew of Tommy Ramone’s religious background until now.

That Tommy Ramone would want to keep his Judaism hidden makes sense. He was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1949 and his parents, both professional photographers, barely escaped from the clutches of the Nazis by hiding out with friends during the war. Most of Erdelyi’s family perished in the Holocaust.

The Erdelyis moved from Budapest to the Forest Hills section of Queens when Tommy was a kid.


2. Tommy Was the Ramones’ Original Drummer but Left the Band in 1979 to Become a Producer

Ramones, Tommy Ramone, Tommy Ramone dead, Johnny Ramone, Joey Ramone, DeeDee Ramone

The Ramones, from left to right: Johnny, Tommy, Joey and DeeDee. (Getty)

Tommy Ramone formed The Ramones along with Jeffrey Hyman (Joey Ramone) and bassist Douglas Colvin (Dee Dee Ramone).

Tommy was originally supposed to be the band’s manager, but replaced Joey as the band’s drummer when Joey realized he couldn’t keep up with the band’s fast tempos.

In 1979, Tommy left the band to become a producer, where he went on to work on The Ramones’ 1984 album Too “Tough To Die” and The Replacements’ 1985 album “Tim.”


3. The Band Took Its Name from Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney

(Getty)

The band’s name came via Paul McCartney, who had called himself Paul Ramon when the Beatles were the Silver Beatles.


4. Tommy Ramone Wrote ‘I Wanna be Your Boyfriend’ & ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’

While Tommy Ramone wrote most of “Blitzkrieg Bop” and “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend,” Dee Dee helped with the titles. The Ramones other best songs known were “I Wanna Be Sedated,” “Teenage Lobotomy,” “Beat on The Brat” and “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker.”


5. Tommy Ramone Was the Last Surviving Original Member

Tommy Ramone

(Getty)

Joey Ramone died of lymphoma in 2001 after a seven-year battle. Dee Dee died in 2002 of a heroin overdose. Johnny Ramone died in 2004 of prostate cancer.

In 2002, The Ramones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 16 years after they disbanded.

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2 comments

  1. Tommy was my dearest and oldest friend.
    We grew up together in Forest Hills Queens New York.
    I went to Stephen A Halsey Jr High and Forest Hills High school with him.
    He got me to pick up the bass guitar and enter into the crazy world of rock music.
    We played in several bands together (Triad & Butch) here in NYC over the late 60’s and early 70’s.
    We built and managed Performance Studios in NYC, a recording/rehearsal studio the Ramones started in. I worked with him when he was in the Ramones and well after he left.
    He had an advanced musical foresight, well ahead of the times in forming and being part of the Ramones. He was a great musician on the guitar, then the drums, later on the mandolin, banjo, fiddle and many more instruments. His musical expanse bridged from Punk to Indie Bluegrass.
    I mourn the passing of the last of the original Ramones, my friend and a true musical visionary.

    Monte A. Melnick

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