Tommy Ramone, the original drummer for groundbreaking punk group the Ramones and the band’s last surviving original member, died Friday at the age of 65. A spokesman for the musician’s family confirmed to Rolling Stone that he died at 12:15 p.m. at his home in Ridgewood, Queens.
“Tom died yesterday, July 11, at 12:15 p.m. at his home in Ridgewood, Queens,” said New York Rocker publisher Andy Schwartz, on behalf of Ramone’s family. “He was in hospice care following treatment for cancer of the bile duct.” Schwartz also confirmed the late drummer’s age as 65.
As a member of the Ramones, Tommy Ramone, real name Thomas Erdelyi, pioneered a propulsive, rapid-fire brand of minimalist rock and roll that owed as much to surf rock as to the proto-punk of bands like The Stooges, and formed the cornerstone of what would become punk rock.
Born in Budapest in 1949, Ramone emigrated to America in 1957, growing up in Forest Hills, NY. In high school, he began playing music with a young John Cummings, who would later rename himself Johnny Ramone after meeting Jeffrey Hyman (Joey) and Douglas Colvin (Dee Dee).
The Ramones established themselves as one of the premiere acts in a burgeoning scene centred around the New York rock club CBGB and released their eponymous debut album in 1976. “Our music is an answer to the early Seventies when artsy people with big egos would do vocal harmonies and play long guitar, solos and get called geniuses,” Tommy told Rolling Stone that year.
He left the Ramones in 1978 to concentrate on studio work after playing on their first three studio albums, all of which are now considered seminal releases in the genres of punk and garage rock. The Ramones disbanded in 1996 and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.
Tributes to Ramone have begun flooding in via social media, with many from the music industry, including Gerard Way, Billy Bragg, Carrie Brownstein, and Andrew WK, paying respects to the drummer, whose influence as a Ramones member was widely acknowledged and far-reaching.
Watch: Tommy Ramone – I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend
— Ramones (@RamonesOfficial) July 12, 2014
— Carrie Brownstein (@Carrie_Rachel) July 12, 2014
R.I.P. Tommy Ramone
— Gerard Way (@gerardway) July 12, 2014
RIP TOMMY RAMONE
— The Cribs (@thecribs) July 12, 2014
Just found out that Tommy Ramone died today. One of the most ground breaking drummers and producers ever. And always nice. #PunkPartyLegend
— ANDREW W.K. (@AndrewWK) July 12, 2014
Every band has a bit of The Ramones in them #RIPTommyRamone
— PulledApartByHorses (@PulledHorses) July 12, 2014
Another legend gone today Tommy Ramone the original Ramones drummer . A reunion in the sky is in order. . RIP Punk Rocker
— matt sorum (@mattsorum) July 12, 2014
1-2-3-4! Last surviving member of the original Ramones, Tommy, has left the building. http://t.co/jY16yPS4dx
— Billy Bragg (@billybragg) July 12, 2014
Oooooooh Tommy Ramone x
— noel fielding (@noelfielding11) July 12, 2014
RIP Tommy Ramone
— Duff McKagan (@DuffMcKagan) July 12, 2014
Chris Stein remembers Tommy Ramone: "He was a lovely gentle guy, super smart. The last of the original Ramones." RIP, Tommy.
— Debbie Harry/BLONDIE (@BlondieOfficial) July 12, 2014
We've lost one of the greats. R.I.P Tommy Ramone
— Chad Smith (@RHCPchad) July 12, 2014
— Social Distortion (@SocialD1) July 12, 2014