NEW YORK: Drummer Tommy Ramone (pictured), the last surviving founding member of the pioneering US punk band The Ramones that revitalised rock and roll with its raw energy and unbridled brashness, has died in New York at the age of 65.
Born Erdelyi Tamas in Budapest, Hungary, Tommy Ramone passed away on Friday at his New York home following treatment for cancer, the entertainment magazine Variety reported.
His death was confirmed to the Los Angeles Times by the band’s manager with Silent Partner Management, as well as on the group’s Twitter and Facebook pages.
“We are saddened to announce the passing of Ramones founding drummer Tommy (Erdelyi) Ramone,” the band said on its Twitter feed.
The four original members, who all took on the last name Ramone, formed the band in the mid-1970s and came to be a fixture of the New York punk underground.
The Ramones made it big with their first three albums: “Ramones” (1976) — which included their first single hit, “Blitzkrieg Bop” — as well as “Leave Home” and “Rocket to Russia,” both from 1977.
“The Ramones revitalised rock and roll at one of its lowest ebbs, infusing it with punk energy, brash attitude and a loud, fast new sound,” reads the band’s biography on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s website.
When their first album appeared, it said, “the rock scene in general had become somewhat bloated and narcissistic. The Ramones got back to basics: simple, speedy, stripped-down rock and roll songs.”
The band’s biggest hits — “Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue,” “Sheena is a Punk Rocker” and “I Wanna be Sedated” — never dominated the Top 50 but influenced several generations of rockers, including U2.
The Ramones had a particularly powerful impact on the British rock scene.
In the introduction of his book Punk: The Brutal Truth, British rock critic Paul du Noyer described The Ramones as “a New York act that inspired the British scene into being and whose stripped-down muscial minimalism remains the essence of the genre.”
“Like Motörhead, a band from the neighboring territory of hard rock, The Ramones endure as an iconic name, whose logo alone can sell a million T-shirts because it represents an attitude to life.”
Tommy Ramone, who “anchored the frantic beat with superhuman energy,” surrendered his drumsticks to a new drummer, Marky Ramone, in 1978, but remained as the band’s co-producer and advisor through 1984, according to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame..
The Ramones disbanded in 1996, and the band was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.
Lead vocalist Joey Ramone died in 2001, followed by bassist and songwriter Dee Dee Ramone the following year and guitarist Johnny Ramone in 2004.