Tommy Ramone was born Thomas Erdelyi In Budapest, Hungary but grew up in Queens one of the boroughs of New York City. Like his friend Johnny he was a student at Forest Hills High, and together they played in a band called The Tangerine Puppets, Tommy played lead guitar.
It was not too much later that the enterprising young Euroboy entered the music biz working at the Dick Charles recording studio, a place that gave birth to most of the staff for the original and prestigious Record Plant, where he was assistant engineer on the Jimmy Hendrix staff, this was the days of The Band of Gypsies.
By the time The Ramones started practicing Tommy and a partner (Monte Melnick) had a studio called Performance Studios where he allowed the young Ramones to come and rehearse. In those days Joey played the drums and Dee Dee sang lead but as Tommy's involvement with the band increased he soon realized Joey's potential as a front man, and when they could not find anybody to replace Joey on the drums Tommy became the Ramones drummer.
"Before that I'd never been behind a drum set in my life," said Tommy, who now was managing the band and was also a member.
As their career got on the fast track Tommy put on another hat and started to produce their recordings and was the associate producer for their first album Ramones and shared the producer's title with Tony Bongiovi on the followers Leave Home and Rocket to Russia.
This is how during his stay with the Ramones Tommy was a force on both management and creative aspects of the band's all-important Classic Period From 1974 to 1977 that includes the first three albums containing some of the best and most often performed songs on the band's live concerts.
When Tommy decided to return to "civilian life" his choice of course was music production. The artists he has worked with include The Replacements, Redd Kross, The Rattlers and The Talking Heads. In 1984 he produced one more album for the Ramones Too Tough To Die a fitting title to a reunion of old friends.
Check his latest stuff on Richie's homepage!
Ramone joined the band around the time of the release of Subterranean Jungle in late 1982 and appears in two music videos from that album, although he did not play on the record itself. He played on the Ramones' albums, Too Tough to Die, Animal Boy and Halfway To Sanity and appears on Ramones compilation albums, Greatest Hits, Loud, Fast Ramones: Their Toughest Hits, Weird Tales of the Ramones, and the Ramones live DVD It's Alive 1974-1996. He penned the Ramones' hit song "Somebody Put Something in My Drink" which is included on the album Ramones Mania, the only Ramones album to go gold, as well as "Smash You", "Humankind", " I'm Not Jesus", "I Know Better Now" and "(You) Can't Say Anything Nice". Richie's songs "I'm Not Jesus" and "Somebody Put Something on my Drink" have been covered by new generations of bands worldwide, particularly metal bands like Children of Bodom and Behemoth.
Richie was the only drummer to sing lead vocals on Ramones songs, including "Can’t Say Anything Nice" and the unreleased "Elevator Operator", as well a multitude of Ramones demos. Richie's singing ability was greatly appreciated by the Ramones quintessential frontman and punk rock icon Joey Ramone: "Richie's very talented and he's very diverse . . . He really strengthened the band a hundred percent because he sings backing tracks, he sings lead, and he sings with Dee Dee's stuff. In the past, it was always just me singing for the most part." Richie performed over 500 shows with the Ramones all over the world, including South America, where rabid Richie fans held up signs proclaiming "Richie" and "Drink" in homage to their idol Richie Ramone.
Ramones guitarist John Cummings, a.k.a. Johnny Ramone, died in his sleep on a Wednesday afternoon (09/15/2004) in Los Angeles. Punk rock heaven is getting a bit too crowded... We'll miss those down strokes!
Johnny is the super guitarist who wears cartoon t-shirts and a mean pout on his face while he’s playing. Johnny always looks as though he’s gonna kill his guitar but he never fails to kill the audience instead. Johnny was too young to remember where he was born but he knows the date- October 8th, 1951. His all time favorite group is the Beatles but he loves Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, Gene Pitney, Dion, and Peter Lemonjello (?!!*?)
too. Johnny loves reading T.V. Guides and watching creature features. He is a big fan of Boris Karloff’s andThe Bride of Frankenstein is one of his favorite movies. (Mine too-wasn’t she gorgeous? What a coiffure!) Along with that enchanting favorite of everyone’s the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Johnny’s favorite colors are Black and White, and he’d like to have either a Rolls Royce or a Chevy Vega. He loves tacos and his dream date is a night out at Jack-in-the-Box. Johnny likes girls with nice bodies (one look at his sweetie and you’ll know just what he means), and strangely enough he gets high on John Denver. I guess it’s the thin mountain air he sings about. Johnny hates bugs and tuning up is one thing that bugs him. He wants most of all for the RAMONES to become a top group so that he can retire and do nothing in the future.
Punk Magazine, Issue #3, April, 1976
Check out Marky's new stuff at his homepage!
In 1972 my first band DUST broke up. It was a 3 piece heavy rock band. We did 2 LPs. I started playing at the age of 12. I liked Ringo Starr, Keith Moon, Mitch Mitchell, Ginger Baker and of course Hal Blaine from Phil Spector's studio band who had more hit records than any other drummer. So after DUST broke up I was already technically advanced and could do and Keith Moon drum fill or any Mitch Mitchell drum roll etc.
In 1971 I started hanging out at a club called NOBODY'S on Bleeker Street. This is where I met Johnny Thunders & Jerry Nolan of the New York Dolls. The New York Scene was just beginning. Then unfortunately Billy Murcia, their drummer, died in London of a drug overdose. At the time Jerry, Peter, Chris and myself were the only drummers on the scene. Jerry and I were both asked to come down and audition. I played Pills, Personality Crisis, and Trash. I overplayed—triplets, quadruples, accents and totally blew it. Jerry took the opposite tactic and just played straight ahead-just the backbeat and passed the audition.
Then the scene moved to Max's Kansas City—we would hang out get drunk and have a party every night. In the back room would be the Dolls, Mott the Hopple, David Bowie, Kiss (who my guitarist from DUST proceeded their first 2 albums) and bands who were popular at the time like The Harlots of 42nd Street, Teenage Lust etc. But the one person who was more outrageous than all the Glam rockers was Wayne County. He was a transsexual from Georgia who wore fishnet stockings, baby doll negligees and a ton of make-up. But he wrote great songs like— Toilet Love, Man Enough To Be A Woman, Midnight Pal and the classic Max's Kansas City. He was looking to form a new band and I joined. At the time he was on David Bowie's label called Main Man. They had and expense account at Max's so we could eat and drink for free—which we did every night!! We played around the city and I was there on the infamous night Wayne kicked Dick (the Dictators) Manitoba's ass during a show at CBGB's. But the band was too extreme for the times and we couldn't play outside NYC our asses would have been kicked or worse.
One night I was sitting at the bar upstairs at Max's with Jerry Noland and Lee Black Childers (he was a photographer, Wayne's roommate and the future manager of The Heartbreakers) when a guy named Richard Hell approached me. He had just quit the Heartbreakers. Riff's between he and Johnny Thunders had been brewing for awhile and Richard he wanted to front his own band. He came off like a beatnik poet but with spiked hair, ripped clothes held together with safety pins. He asked me to come down and play some songs with him. It was March 1976 when I officially became a Voidoid. Blank Generation was the first song I learned. We were signed to Sire Records, the premier punk label and recorded the LP Blank Generation in two weeks at Electric Lady Studio (the studio created by Jimi Hendrix) on 8th St. in the Village. I really respected Richard's song writing and he was a competent bass player. Bob Quine was and still is a great guitar player as is Ivan Julian. We went to Europe in the fall of '77 when the record was released. Punk was really starting to happen and we toured with the Clash. But Richard didn't like touring and didn't like sitting around so eventually I left the band. DeeDee Ramone and I would see each other at C.B.G.B's alot. One night he approached me and said Tommy Ramone was quitting the band to just produce records and do I want to join the band ?
I wanna get off the track here a minute—One night during the spring of 76 Wayne County was deejaying at Max's when he played the first RAMONES album–I sort of hated it–there we no leads, no drum fills. But after I kept listening I knew it was going to change the course of music. It wasn't just music it was a wall–a tidal wave–with nothing letting up. A force of astonishing power. Joey became my favorite singer and Johnny's guitar wasn't really an instrument but a power tool.
Back to the track—It was the spring of 78 Johnny Ramone arranged to meet me at Max's to discuss my joining the band. I didn't know him personally but when we met he told he had seen me play as far back as DUST. The audition was the next day at a studio on West 27th Street. I played SHEENA, ROCKAWAY BEACH and I DON'T CARE. I got the position -changed my name from MARC BELL to MARKY RAMONE and like they say the rest history....
Lately Marky has been playing with several bands: The Misfits, The Buckweeds, Marky Ramone & The Speedkings, Tarkany, Antiproduct, ... keeping the legacy alive!
...I was still hoping for a last gig or some kind of reunion. A very last show, a lot of fun, steaming music, great band, great fans ... . Joey has played his last show. The lights went out, the music faded, his show had to come to an end. Nevertheless, I know that he will keep on rocking in our hearts. Adios amigo, I will miss you!
Joey's last record:
Like many seminal musicians who died too soon, Joey Ramone has left a trail of tunes to remember him by.
Before the former Ramones frontman's life was taken at age 49 by lymphatic cancer on Sunday 15/04/01, he finished a solo album that was nearly three years in the making.
"It is all recorded. We will wait awhile, but we will release it this year," said longtime Ramones producer Daniel Rey, who collaborated with the singer on the album. "Joey wanted it to come out. He was proud of it."
Ramone wrote nearly 20 new tunes that he recorded with a band consisting of Andy (a.k.a. Adny) Shernoff of punk group the Dictators, Cracker drummer Frank Funaro and Rey on guitar.
"He was loved by everyone who knew him or heard him," Rey said. "There was never anyone like him, nor will there ever be again. He encapsulated everything about rock 'n' roll music and did it with passion. He took everything that was good — doo-wop, girl groups, the British invasion — and summed it up in his vocal style."
The songs on the posthumous album reflect Ramone's ongoing quirky obsessions.
"I watch this show 'Squawk Box' every morning, and they have this host named Maria [Bartiromo] who is really hot and feisty," Ramone said. "When I stopped drinking, I started getting into the stock market because it's sort of like a mosh pit down there."
A demo of the song mixed the British Invasion sound of the Who's early material with a touch of the Ramones' career-long fascination with Motown girl groups. "I watch her every day/ I watch her every night/ She's really out of sight/ Maria Bartiromo," Ramone sang.
Other songs Ramone recorded include "I Feel Like I'm on a Drug I've Never Done Before," "Mr. Punchy," "Don't Worry About Me," "What Did I Do to Deserve You" and "There's a Spirit in My House and I Know It Ain't No Mouse."
A Ramone alone:
Bonded by their love of the music of the '60s, they called themselves the Ramones, and they saved rock & roll. Amazon.com editor Kevin Cole talks with punk visionary, pizza lover, and lead vocalist Joey Ramone about punk rock, purity and art.
Joey ("I don't care about history") Ramone claims his place in the annals of rock & roll In the mid-1970s, four outcasts emerged from Queens, New York, wearing ripped jeans, T-shirts, and black leather jackets, singing songs about teenage lobotomies and "chewing out a rhythm on my bubblegum."
Amazon.com: Entertainment Weekly picked the Ramones' first gig at CBGB's as one of the hundred most important moments in rock & roll history. How does that make you feel?
Joey Ramone: Coming in at No. 11 wasn't bad. That made me feel pretty good. People always embraced the Ramones, but it's nice, what's happening. Seems like since the band disbanded there's been a major increase in all kinds of things dealing with the Ramones and with rock & roll. Because the Ramones weren't just a band; we inspired generations of kids. We were really the blueprint for the kind of music that we created--that was called punk rock—but it was so much more than that. I mean, like, you hear from all these young kids, like Offspring and Green Day and Rancid--all these younger bands today. It's cool hearing from them.
Amazon.com: Did you guys have a sense of history when you started out?
Ramone: We were all friends living in the same neighborhood, basically; we were all kind of outcasts. And we shared a lot of the same musical tastes. And the music that we loved was kind of dying out, so we played for ourselves, more or less. The real good stuff was all kind of disappearing. I guess in the early '70s there was some good stuffthe Stooges, MC5, Alice Cooper, and then like [David] Bowie and T-Rex and Slade. There was a lot of good stuff, and then that was it.
Amazon.com: Is there a single most important element to the Ramones' sound?
Ramone: Johnny conceived a new guitar sound and everyone brought something special to the stew. The things that we sang about were dealing with ourselves—our own frustrations and things that we found amusing and things dealing with TV or radio or life.
Amazon.com: How, over the course of 20 years, did you guys avoid getting fat?
Ramone: We always knew who we were as individuals. We knew what we wanted and we never strayed. We knew what excited us and what our fans liked. We're purists and we always stayed true to that.
Amazon.com: Was it ever frustrating creating perfect pop radio songs like Rockaway Beach and not getting radio play?
Ramone: Well, it was a very frustrating career. It was just constant obstacles being thrown in your path. It wasn't in the music or anything. It was usually the industry—radio or whatever. A lot of people were afraid of us.
Amazon.com: What's your first musical recollection?
Ramone: I remember it being like Del Shannon. That might have been the first record I bought Runaway. My early life, I went through a lot of crap with divorce and my mom remarrying and getting a new family and all this crap. I kind of found my salvation in AM radio. I remember being turned on to the Beach Boys, hearing Surfing USA, I guess, in 1960. But the Beatles really did it to me. Later on, the Stooges were a band that really helped me in those dark periods—just get out the aggression. Nobody picked up guns in those days. You put on music and it made you feel great.
Amazon.com: In looking back at the legacy of the Ramones, what makes you feel the proudest?
Ramone: I guess just the entire accomplishment. We never sold out; we always retained our self-respect and our integrity. And I guess just being respected by other artists, like Stephen King and Matt Groening and Phil Spector. And just the fans in general. We get diehard fans.
Amazon.com: What's a record that people would be surprised that you love?
Ramone: I love that Lucinda Williams record, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. It's just totally genuine. And she's very unique.
Amazon.com: When people are being really real and honest and passionate, it transcends genre.
Ramone: I love that—when I'm affected by somebody else. It doesn't happen very often. There's a real art to making music. It's not a commodity, even though today it is a commodity. Today it's just record business. It has nothing to do with music or art.
Interview by Kevin Cole for Amazon.Com © 1999