Drummer - Punk, hard rock
Erdélyi was Jewish, and was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1952, to Jewish parents who had survived the Holocaust by being hidden by neighbors, though many of his relatives were victims of the Nazis. He grew up in Forest Hills, New York. Tommy and guitarist John Cummings (later to be dubbed "Johnny Ramone") performed together in a mid-60's four-piece garage band called the Tangerine Puppets while in high school. In 1970, Erdelyi was an assistant engineer for the production of the Jimi Hendrix album Band of Gypsys. Producer and drummer for the Ramones
When the Ramones first came together, with Johnny Ramone on guitar, Dee Dee Ramone on bass and Joey Ramone on drums, Erdelyi was supposed to be the manager, but was drafted as the band's drummer when Joey became the lead singer and found that he couldn't keep up with the Ramones' increasingly fast tempos. "Tommy Ramone, who was managing us, finally had to sit down behind the drums, because nobody else wanted to," Dee Dee later recalled.
He remained as drummer from 1974 to 1978, playing on and co-producing their first three albums, Ramones, Leave Home, and Rocket to Russia, as well as the live album It's Alive.
Behind the scenes with the Ramones
He was replaced on drums in 1978 by Marky Ramone, but handled band management and co-production for their fourth album, Road to Ruin; he later returned as producer for the eighth album, 1984's Too Tough to Die.
Dee Dee, in his books, expressed resentment towards Tommy for having it "together" more than anyone else in the band, being able to cook himself dinner and organize his life in a much more functional manner, without the psychosis or addiction problems that Dee Dee himself suffered from. In contrast to everyone else in the band, Tommy was seemingly "normal," though there are accounts of him partying with the band and driving them around in his car in the early days.
Tommy Ramone wrote "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" and the majority of "Blitzkrieg Bop" while bassist Dee Dee suggested the title. He and Ed Stasium played all the guitar solos on the albums he produced, as Johnny Ramone largely preferred playing rhythm guitar.
In the 1980s he produced the highly regarded Replacements album Tim, as well as Redd Kross's Neurotica.
On October 8, 2004, he played as a Ramone once again, when he joined C.J. Ramone, Daniel Rey, and Clem Burke (also known as Elvis Ramone) in the "Ramones Beat Down On Cancer" concert. In October 2007 in an interview to promote It's Alive 1974-1996 a double DVD of the band's greatest televised live performances he paid tribute to his deceased bandmates:
"They gave everything they could in every show. They weren't the type to phone it in, if you see what I mean."
Ramone and Claudia Tienan (formerly of underground band the Simplistics) performed as a bluegrass-based folk duo called Uncle Monk. Ramone stated: "There are a lot of similarities between punk and old-time music. Both are home-brewed music as opposed to schooled, and both have an earthy energy. And anybody can pick up an instrument and start playing." He joined songwriter Chris Castle, Garth Hudson, Larry Campbell and the Womack Family Band in July 2011 at Levon Helm Studios for Castle's album Last Bird Home.
Illness and death
Tommy Ramone died at his home in Queens, New York City on July 11, 2014, aged 62. He had been receiving hospice care following unsuccessful treatment for cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer).