1967 Vol. 62, No. 18
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Demolition pizza party
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Obit of the Day: The Last of the Ramones
Forty years after The Ramones played together for the first time, their last original member has died. Tommy Ramone, who was born Thomas Erdelyi in Budapest, passed away on July 11, 2014 at the age of 65.
The Ramones came together in 1974. At the insistence of bass player Douglas Colvin the group all took the last name “Ramone”, a pseudonymous surname used by Paul McCartney when signing hotel registries. Thus were born Joey Ramone (Jeffrey Hyman, vocals), Johnny Ramone (John Cummings, guitar), Tommy Ramone (Mr. Erdelyi, drums), and DeeDee Ramone (Mr. Colvin).
Performing together for the first time in March of ‘74, within months the band became mainstays at the legendary CBGB. They performed at the club for a year bringing to audiences a sound comprised of fast tempos, catchy melodies, and memorable lyrics. They pioneered the style called punk along with other New York artists including Patti Smith and the New York Dolls.
In 1975, the Ramones signed their first recording deal with Sire Records. For about $6400, they recorded their first album Ramones in April 1976. It was released the same month. Although it sold slowly, the 14-song album (with only one song longer than 2:30), was a critical success. Two of the albums hits “Blitzkrieg Bop” and “I Wanna Be Your Boyrfriend” were written by Mr. Erdelyi.)
They released two more albums, Leave Home and Rocket to Russia, the following year. The second album was as big a hit as the Ramones would have, peaking at 48 on the Billboard 200 album chart, and receiving more glowing reviews. The group had also gained a strong following in the United Kingdom alongside the raunchier local punk band, The Sex Pistols.
Mr. Erdelyi left the group in 1978, replaced by Marc Bell (Marky Ramone). He remained with The Ramones as a songwriter and producer. (He had already co-produced the group’s last three albums including It’s Alive!, a concert recording.)
The Ramones would remain relatively intact until 1996 when the group finally split, playing their final show in August of that year. The original group would come together one more time in 1989 for an album signing in New York but never performed again.
Joey Ramone, the group’s lead singer, died on April 15, 2001 from cancer at age 49. Just months later the group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. (The induction named Joey, Johnny, DeeDee, Tommy, and Marky as The Ramones.) The ceremony was DeeDee’s last public appearance. He was found dead of a heroin overdose two months later on June 5, 2002. DeeDee was 50 years old. Johnny Ramone succumbed to prostate cancer at age 55 on September 15, 2004.
Mr. Erdelyi returned to the recording studio in 2006, releasing a bluegrass/folk album that he recorded with his partner Claudia Tiernan. The duo performed under the name Uncle Monk, and their album was self-titled.
He last recorded in 2011 at the Levon Helm Studios for a Chris Castle album.
(“Blitzkrieg Bop,” written by Mr. Erdelyi, and Ramones is copyright Rhino/Warner Bros.)
Other musicians of note on Obit of the Day:
Levon Helm - Drummer for The Band
Ray Manzarek - Keyboardist for The Doors
Vacancies can provoke discord!
(Photo of Main St., Poughkeepsie, NY.)