Thomas Erdelyi,professionally known as Tommy Ramone, was an American songwriter, musician and record producer originally from Hungary. He was best known as the drummer of the punk rock band the Ramones with whom he was associated for the first four years of their existence. Born in Budapest, Hungary, to Jewish parents, Ramone, alongside his family, emigrated to the United States following the breakout of the Hungarian Revolution in 1956. After leaving school at the age of 18, Ramone began serving as an assistant engineer at Record Plant studio before joining the Ramones in 1974. He worked with the band for four years and eventually retired in 1978, following which he stayed as their record producer. In 2014, the talented artist died at his home in New York, at the age of 65. He suffered from bile duct cancer in his last days.
Childhood & Early Life
Thomas Erdelyi was born as Tamás Erdélyi on 29 January 1949 in Budapest, Hungary, to Jewish parents who were professional photographers.
His family left Hungary and flew to USA following the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, initially settling in the South Bronx. They later shifted to Forest Hills in Queens, New York. While in school, Tamás changed his name to Thomas.
In high school, he played guitar in a garage band. Following his graduation, Thomas started working at the Record Plant studio as an assistant engineer.
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From 1966 to 1967, Thomas Erdelyi and guitarist John Cummings played in the band, the Tangerine Puppets. They soon befriended singer Jeffrey Hyman and singer cum guitarist Douglas Colvin.
In 1974, Cummings and Douglas invited Jeffrey to join them as a drummer in a new band. The bandmates soon recruited Thomas as well.
In the newly formed band, Douglas played the bass guitar and adopted the name Dee Dee Ramone. He also convinced the other bandmates to take the same surname and they eventually became Tommy Ramone, Joey Ramone, and Johnny Ramone. They gave their band the name the ‘Ramones’.
Their first gig was in March 1974 at the Performance Studios. The band played at a popular club named CBGB in August that year. Their performance left a positive impact on the audience and they were called to perform regularly at the club.
In 1975, the Ramones signed a deal with Sire Records. They released their debut self-titled album “Ramones" in April 1976. Although the album wasn’t much successful, their live performances proved to be extremely successful.
In 1977, the band came up with two more albums titled "Rocket to Russia" and "Leave Home". While the latter peaked at #148 on the Billboard 200, the former charted at #49 on the same chart.
Following the release of the albums "Rocket to Russia" and "Leave Home", Tommy Ramone gave up his position as the drummer. However, he didn't leave the band and stayed as its record producer.
His final show as the drummer was at CBGB's Johnny Blitz benefit event in New York on May 4, 1978.
Tommy Ramone produced a number of albums for his band Ramones, such as “Road to Ruin”, “It's Alive”, “Too Tough to Die” and “NYC 1978”. “It's Alive,” the first live album by the band, earned gold certification in Argentina in 1993.
Family & Personal Life
Tommy Ramone suffered from bile duct cancer. He received hospice care after unsuccessful treatment for the disease. On July 11, 2014, he breathed his last at his home in Queens, New York. He was 65.