This one hurts. Tommy Ramone, original drummer for the Ramones and the band’s last surviving original member, died yesterday at home in Queens, after a long fight with bile duct cancer, according to the Ramones’ Facebook page. He was 65.
Tommy was born Thomas Erdelyi in Ontario, but he was raised in Forest Hills, Queens, where he became friends with the other future members of the Ramones, going to shows with them and agreeing to take over on drums when everyone realized that Joey couldn’t play fast enough. With the Ramones, his primitive, straightforward pummeling style essentially set the blueprint for what punk rock drumming sounded like and set the band starkly apart from just about everyone else playing music at the time. He co-produced the band’s first three albums, an absolutely classic run, and wrote songs like “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” for them.
Tommy left the band in 1978, reportedly because he didn’t like touring, and Marky Ramone took over. But Tommy continued to work with the band, co-producing 1974’s Road To Ruin and 1984’s Too Tough To Die. He also produced the Replacements’ 1985 major-label debut Tim and Redd Kross’s 1987 album Neurotica. Later on, he played in the old-timey folk duo Uncle Monk, who released one self-titled album in 2006.
Below, watch the Ramones’ entire classic New Years Eve 1977 show, taped for the live album It’s Alive.