The last time we saw Tommy Erdelyi–aka original Ramones drummer Tommy Ramone–he looked more like a member of Steely Dan. We made a joke about how he was hiding out from the Grim Reaper. Sadly, the Grim Reaper found him, and Tommy (second from left, above) joins Joey, Dee Dee, and Johnny Ramone in the pantheon of legendary dead punks. Yeah, that’s the entire original lineup of The Ramones having passed away. [photo via..]
Now we’re worried about the medical effects of eating a steady diet of Hostess Sno Balls under the sickly blue glow of a television showing old horror movies. Could that really be bad for you? Well, Tommy Ramone might not be the best case for that. He was a lot more than just a cultish punk drummer. Tommy Erdelyi (born in Budapest as Erdélyi Tamás) really started out as the Ramones’ manager, and also went on to be a stellar record producer for the band.
Tommy then had to step in after drummer Joey Ramone couldn’t keep up with the band’s frantic beats. Joey moved over to vocals, and four cult stars were born. Tommy also did a lot of work as the Ramones’ lead guitarist. We love Johnny Ramone, but we’re not sure that guy actually recorded on any Ramones album after 1980.
Tommy kept working occasionally with The Ramones after he left the band in 1978. He was still a constant presence at various memorial concerts and tributes, even as he was indulging himself in bluegrass bands in upstate New York. We should also note that Tommy produced Redd Kross’ Neurotica album, and that’s one of the best records of the ’80s.
Anyway, Tommy passed away in the NYC borough of Queens, just like a Ramone should. He’d been battling bile duct cancer. He lived long enough to see The Ramones’ debut album finally get certified as a Gold Record–38 years after its release. Marc Bell replaced Tommy in the band, and he’s still around as Marky Ramone.
There’s an autobiography coming out soon from Marky. For now, though, check out vintage early Ramones–and Tommy looking more punk than anyone else, in that ’60s biker sense…