Exclusive Interview With Tommy Ramone By
Thomas Erdelyi may not be a recognizable inductee name to those familiar with the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame, but his more familiar alias of Tommy Ramone gives the former drummer and successful producer a rare distinction, the only Hungarian to ever enter the hallowed Hall.
Erdelyi may not be a recognizable inductee name to those familiar
with the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame, but his more familiar alias
of Tommy Ramone gives the former drummer and successful producer
a rare distinction, the only Hungarian to ever enter the hallowed
Erdelyi was recently in Los Angeles as the keynote speaker for a
DVD convention and to promote the Ramones recent DVD documentary,
release, End of the Century. The film features extensive
interview footage from each of the many Ramones throughout the years,
but deals primarily with the groups original lineup: Joey,
Johnny, Dee Dee, and Tommy.
While the biography traces the undeniable historical impact of punk
rocks creators and proudly includes amazing live footage and
praiseworthy testimonials from countless artists and fans, End
of the Century also unflinchingly chronicles aspects that only
the Ramones would have the candor and honesty to reveal: dysfunction,
drug addiction, infighting, disappointment, and much more. With
a laugh, Erdelyi freely admits, The group was such a multi-layered
conglomeration of four very different individuals who brought unique
things into the band. When you get four talented people who are
high strung and volatile and stuff like that, you get a lot of fireworks,
a lot of drama, and its in the film. So, it captures a certain
aspect of the band.
The story maintains many important elements and covers such a broad
topic with facility because it portrays the sheer character of individuals
within the band, but also expresses the groups enormous musical,
cultural, and social influence. While many of New Yorks underground
bands such as Blondie or Talking Heads had more impressive record
sales, few could deny that the Ramones will most likely be the most
significant act to ever graduate from CBGBs legendary stage.
One fascinating piece of information revealed in the movie is the
fact that the concept of the band and early leadership were actually
Erdelyis ideas. He initially planned on managing the band,
but moved to drums when it became apparent that Joey was more suited
to singing than sitting behind the kit. From that point, the articulate
drummer was generally the spokesman for the group because he felt
it would help give them credibility.
After the Erdelyi left his drum stool behind, he continued to maintain
an active role in the bands career. He went on to produce
the Ramones albums Road to Ruin and Too Tough to Die.
Unfortunately, the schism between Joey and Johnny seemed to grow
infinitely wider after the amiable drummers calming presence
vanished. In an interview shortly before his death, Johnny Ramone
notes that he felt Tommy was a great producer for the band and much
better than production legend, Phil Spector, who worked with the
band on the End of the Century LP.
The bittersweet story concludes with the premature deaths of Joey,
Dee Dee, and Johnny, who died of lymphatic cancer, a heroin overdose,
and prostate cancer respectively within three years of one another.
However, they can be posthumously proud that their iconic image
and sound will live on for countless generations.