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The Last of the Original Ramones Is Gone: RIP Tommy Ramone

Joey was the first to go, finally succumbing to cancer after a long battle on April 15, 2001. Dee Dee was next, a heroin overdose on June 5, 2002.  Then came Johnny; prostate cancer took him on September 15, 2004. And now the last of the original Ramones, Tommy, has gone adios, amigos.

The cause was cancer of the bile duct.  He died at 12:15 pm yesterday at home after been discharged from hospice care.  There was nothing more to be done.  He was with his partner, Claudia Tienan, for 40 years.

Ramones - Tommy Ramone

Tommy (his real last name was Erdélyi Tamás  and was born in Hungary in either 1952 or 1949–we’re not entirely sure) was the classic line-up’s drummer, a gig that he really didn’t want at first. He was brought into the fold in 1974 to be the band’s manager.  Joey was the drummer.  But when everyone figured out that Joey would be a much better frontman, Tommy was pressed into service.  He held that position from 1974 until 1978, playing on (and c0-producing) the band’s first three albums.

Marky Ramone came in as his replacement in 1978, but Tommy would return to co-produce the Ramones’ fourth and eighth albums.  He also wrote several songs, including this one (although the title came from Dee Dee).

If you’re a Ramones scholar, you’ll know that Tommy was considered to be the most normal member of the band.  He didn’t have any drug addictions (like Dee Dee), OCD (like Joey) or hardcore hobbies (like Johnny’s baseball thing).  His togetherness was such that it inspired some resentment from some of the other guys in the group.

Tommy’s last musical gigs were with a bluegrass-folk band called Uncle Monk.  They sounded like this.

So that’s it.  They’re all gone.  For many of us who remember the original punk days, something just died inside of all of us, too.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38321 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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