The third in a death triad of musical icons after free-jazz pioneering bassist Charlie Haden and soul singer/songwriter Bobby Womack, Thomas Erdélyi, aka Tommy Ramone, original drummer of the Ramones, died yesterday of bile duct cancer. Although not the longest-serving of the Ramone’s drummers (the still-surviving Marky Ramone holds that honor), Thomas and his musical know-how (he had served as an assistant engineer on Jimi Hendrix’ Band of Gypsies album) was crucial in the band’s inception.
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Originally planning to serve as their manager and producer until Joey Ramone’s desire to concentrate on singing led to a drumming vacancy, ‘Tommy’ also took up the sticks from 1974-1978 including their first three albums The Ramones (co-writing ‘Blitzkreig Bop’ and ‘I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend’), Leave Home and Rocket To Russia, as well as their first live record, It’s Alive, recorded at the Rainbow Theatre in London on New Year’s Eve, 1977. Amiably giving up his drum seat to ‘Marky’ Ramone later in 1978, ‘Tommy’ continued to manage and produce the band (with Ed Stasium) for their Road To Ruin album, which featured perhaps the Ramones’ greatest recorded achievement, ‘I Wanna Be Sedated,’ and two tracks that got into the soundtrack for Rock and Roll High School (1979).
On FilmOn’s free VoD service we have the video for one of those tracks, remixed by Phil Spector, ‘I Want You Around’ — in which Tommy Ramone appears in a promo cut-out for Rocket To Russia in Riff Randell’s room (Randell is played by P.J. Soles — Carrie, Stripes, and VoD’s Boy In The Plastic Bubble).
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VoD section also has one other video by The Ramones, Pet Sematary (1989). Filmed and recorded during a time when Tommy was not involved with the band (Richie Ramone is the drummer), it is nevertheless a poignant reminder and elegy of the group’s unique irreverance and beautiful, chaotic power. Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy are now all gone, but the songs still ‘do something’.
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