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Tommy Ramone

Co-founder of The Ramones.

Born: January 29, 1949; Died: July 11, 2014

Tommy Ramone, who has died of cancer aged 65, was the drummer and last surviving original member of the American punk band The Ramones, whose aggressive and fast-driving songs spearheaded the punk-rock movement.

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Ramone, whose real name was Thomas Erdelyi, was the co-founder of the band and its drummer from 1974 to 1978; he also wrote some of their most influential songs.

He was the last surviving member of its original quartet, who adopted pseudonyms ending with the surname Ramone.

The New York band, with their mops of long hair, black leather jackets, torn jeans and trainers, had limited chart success but they deeply influenced scores of musicians who would go on to form bands such as The Clash, The Sex Pistols, Nirvana and Green Day.

They were seen as masters of ­minimalist tunes that came in under two-and-a-half minutes and were played at blistering tempo, such as Blitzkrieg Bop, I Wanna be Sedated, Rockaway Beach, and Sheena is a Punk Rocker.

The band's style, anchored by Tommy Ramone's frenetic style of drumming, was partly a reaction to the bloated and heavily produced rock music of the mid-1970s.

Their eponymous first-album, which was released in 1976, revitalised the rock scene, and in 2002 they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, whose website says of the band: "The Ramones got back to basics: simple, speedy, stripped-down rock and roll songs. Voice, guitar, bass, drums. No make-up, no egos, no light shows, no nonsense."

Dave Frey, a director at Ramones Productions, the company that controls the band's copyright, said: "They are heard everywhere. At every sporting event you hear 'Hey, ho, let's go!'. They connected in a big way."

Frey said he had telephoned Ramone last month to tell him that their debut record had reached gold status and said the musician was thrilled.

"He couldn't believe it," Frey said.

The Ramones performed 2,263 concerts between their formation in 1974 and final show in 1996. They released 21 studio, live and compilation albums over a 20-year period.

Tommy Ramone was born in ­Budapest in Hungary into a family that had been devastated by the Holocaust.

With his parents, who were professional photographers, he emigrated to the US in 1957 and in high school, played guitar in a group called Tangerine Puppets that also included Ramones guitarist John Cummings, or Johnny Ramone, on bass. Tommy Ramone then trained as a recording engineer and worked at the Record Plant studio in Manhattan, assisting on various sessions, including with Jimi Hendrix in 1969.

His friendship with Cummings led to the formation of The Ramones with Joey Ramone, born Jeff Hyman, and Dee Dee Ramone, born Douglas Colvin. At first, Joey was the drummer but he quickly moved to lead vocals leaving the band to search for a new drummer.

"We started auditioning drummers, but they just couldn't grasp the concept of the band - the speed and simplicity," said Erdelyi.

"So I'd sit down and show them what we were looking for and the guys just finally said, 'Why don't you do it?' So I gave it a try and that's when the sound of the band sort of solidified."

Tommy Ramone also wrote for the band, including one of their biggest successes Blitzrieg Bop, which is still hugely popular at sporting events in the US, and according to Ed Stasium, who co-produced or engineered a number of early Ramones records, was the main architect of the band's prolific output.

"He put the records together. The other guys were the band - they would do the live thing - but Tommy put the records together," said Stasium. "He came up with songs, he rehearsed the band, he came up with the concept and he was there for every minute in the studio."

Guitarist Johnny Ramone died of prostate cancer in 2004. Singer Joey Ramone died of lymphoma in 2001. Bassist Dee Dee Ramone died the following year of a heroin overdose.

Tommy Ramone, who acted at various times also as a songwriter, producer, and engineer, died at his home in Queens, New York.

He had been in hospice care following treatment for cancer of the bile duct, and is survived by Claudia Tienan, his partner of 40 years, and other family members including nephews Eric and David.

In recent years, Tommy and Tienan performed and recorded as the indie-acoustic country and bluegrass duo Uncle Monk.

The band's biographer Everett True said the influence of The Ramones could still be seen in music now.

"There are hundreds, there are ­thousands, there are millions of melodies happening in Ramones songs," he said.

"You hear their influence stretch across all of rock music from 1975 onwards. You just hear it everywhere."

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