Ramone in 2008
|Thomas Erdelyi, Erdélyi Tamás, Scotty|
January 29, 1949|
|Origin||Forest Hills, New York, U.S.|
July 11, 2014 (aged 65)|
Ridgewood, New York, U.S.
|Genres||Punk rock, bluegrass|
|Musician, songwriter, record producer|
|Instruments||Drums, percussion, guitar, mandolin, vocals|
|Labels||Sire, Radioactive, Chrysalis|
|Ramones, Uncle Monk|
Thomas Erdelyi (born Tamás Erdélyi; January 29, 1949 - July 11, 2014), known professionally as Tommy Ramone, was a Hungarian American record producer, musician, and songwriter. He was the drummer for the influential punk rock band the Ramones for the first four years of the band's existence and was the last surviving original member of the Ramones.
Tamás Erdélyi was born on January 29, 1949, in Budapest, Hungary. His Jewish parents were professional photographers, who survived the Holocaust by being hidden by neighbors. Many of his relatives were murdered by the Nazis.
The family left Hungary during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. In 1957 he emigrated with his family to the United States. Initially settling in the South Bronx, the family moved up to the middle-class suburb of Forest Hills in Queens, New York. Verona Estates in Forest Hills was the place where Tamás grew up and later described as 'Home sweet home'. He changed his name to Thomas Erdelyi.
In high school, Tommy played guitar in a mid-1960s, four-piece garage band, the Tangerine Puppets, with a schoolmate and guitarist, John Cummings, the future Johnny Ramone. After leaving school, at 18, he started working as an assistant engineer at the Record Plant studio, where, he worked on the production of the 1970 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 realizing 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.
He remained as drummer from 1974 to 1978, playing on and co-producing their first three albums, Ramones, Leave Home, and Rocket to Russia, as well as the live album It's Alive. His final show as a Ramones drummer was at Johnny Blitz benefit event at CBGB's in New York, USA on May 4, 1978.
In a 2007, interview with the BBC, Ramone said the band had been heavily influenced by 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."
Tommy Ramone 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 their eighth album, 1984's Too Tough to Die.
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. In the 1980s he produced the Replacements album Tim, as well as Redd Kross's Neurotica. He returned to the producer's chair in 2002, overseeing the reunion of former Ramones C.J. and Marky for their recording of Jed Davis' Joey Ramone tribute "The Bowery Electric".
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 2-DVD set of the band's best 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.
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's in the Bowery area of New York and touring for 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 added: "One of 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."
Erdélyi kept his Jewish identity so well concealed that not even Danny Fields, the Ramones' first manager (himself a Jew), knew of Tommy Ramone's religious background until now. Tommy Ramone was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1949, and his parents barely escaped the Nazis by hiding out with friends during the war. Most of Erdélyi's extended family perished in the Holocaust.