Monday, July 14, 2014

Tommy Ramone Was A Punk Rocker

By the time The Ramones hit the music scene, I had just come off from a long association with progressive rock and had moved into listening to jazz and fusion. The Ramones and other punk rock bands were not my cup of tea at the time; however, I learned to appreciate their simplistic style that invoked their rock ‘n’ roll roots. As Tommy Ramone is credited as saying, their choice of music was “hugely influential blasts of short, aggressive, cartoonishly fast songs.”

Born in Budapest, Hungary as Erdélyi Tamás – a name which he also reversed as Thomas Erdelyi before taking the stage surname Ramone. The Ramone moniker was chosen by the band because Paul McCartney had previously used the pseudonym Paul Ramon early in his career.

Last Friday, Tommy Ramone – the last remaining original member of the band – passed away from bile duct cancer at the age of 65. Because of his disdain for touring, Ramone left his post as the band’s drummer in 1979 shortly after the release of their third album, “Rocket to Russia.”

Ramone served as drummer on the band’s first three albums and the 2003 live release of “NYC 1978.” After leaving the band, he served as producer on 1979’s “It’s Alive” and co-producer of 1984’s “Too Tough to Die.” To add to his resume, Ramone/Erdelyi served as an assistant engineer on Jimi Hendrix’ “Band of Gypsies,” Hendrix’s only album for Capitol Recrods.

To honor the last living original Ramone, I have selected “Sheena is a Punk Rocker” from the last studio album with Tommy Ramone as drummer. It was their second highest charting single; as it placed at #81 on the Hot 100. The song also appeared in the movie “Pet Sematary.”

Rest in Peace Tommy – you’ll be missed.

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