Tommy Ramone, Last of the Original Ramones, Dies at 65

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
July 12 2014 2:00 PM

Tommy Ramone, Last of the Original Ramones, Dies at 65

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Tommy Ramone speaks during a press conference in 2005 to announce an effort to save legendary punk club CBGB, where the Ramones kicked off their career

Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images

The last surviving member of the seminal punk bank the Ramones has died. Tommy Ramone died of cancer at the age of 65 on Friday but the news was confirmed today in the band’s official Facebook page.

The Hungarian-born Ramone co-founded the Ramones with singer Joey Ramone, bassist Dee Dee Ramone and guitarist Johnny Ramone. He started out as the band’s manager but then became the drummer. The Ramones were the first band from New York’s underground punk scene to make an album, which, according to legend, took six days to record and cost $6,400, according to the Guardian. That first album was only certified gold last month—38 years after its release.

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The band never reached commercial success but it was huge on the underground scene and its music helped shape generations of musicians. "There are hundreds, there are thousands, there are millions of melodies happening in Ramones songs," Everett True, who wrote a book on the Ramones, told the BBC. "You hear their influence stretch across all of rock music from 1975 onwards ... you just hear it everywhere.” The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll hall of fame in 2002, six years after disbanding. The Ramones released their last studio album, Adios Amigos, in 1996, which was followed by a tour album, We’re Outta Here!, released in 1997, according to the Associated Press.

The Guardian’s Michael Hann notes that for a while the Ramones “were the most chaotic group in the world” but they eventually got better. He goes on:

They got so much better that for me (and for others, not lots of others, but enough of us) the Ramones were the best group rock'n'roll ever produced. Not the most inventive, or the most versatile, or the most skilful, or the most emotionally resonant, or the most lyrical—but the best, because every time I put on one of the Ramones' best records, I was reminded of how I felt the first time I heard it. And the first time I heard it, I felt: this is the sound I've been hearing in my head and here it is on 12 inches of black vinyl; this is what I have been waiting for since the first single I ever bought. The Ramones were the sound of juvenile excitement, expressed with such breathtaking singlemindedness that nothing could kill the excitement.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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