Yesterday Tommy Ramone, born as Erdelyi Tamas in Budapest, died at the age of 62. He was the last surviving member of the original line-up of the Ramones. To me he was more important than the other members for an important reason. I absolutely loved the Ramones' first album. And their second. And their third. When I heard their fourth album, "Road to Ruin", I was disappointed. It was good, but it wasn't great. The magic had gone. When I checked to see what had gone wrong I saw immediately that Tommy had left the band. Even though he was only the drummer, his departure negatively affected the band. So for me, Tommy was always the person who made the Ramones great. Sure, their later albums had a few good songs on them, but they were never masterpieces like the first three.
I still remember where I was when I first heard the Ramones. I walked into a record shop in Berlin-Charlottenburg and heard "Blitzkrieg Bop" being played. It was like nothing I'd ever heard before, so I went up to the counter and asked what it was. This was the beginning of a passion I've had for the Ramones that's lasted over 30 years. A passion for the Ramones with Tommy on drums, that is. That was the real Ramones.
January 29, 1949 – July 11, 2014
I've been busy today, but tomorrow I'll sit and listen all three of the Ramones' studio albums that feature Tommy. I'll also listen to "It's Alive", a live album released a few years later featuring the band's original line-up. This is, in my opinion, the best live album made by any band ever. Rest in peace, Tommy.