Entertainment & Arts

Tommy Ramone: Blondie and Chili Peppers lead tributes

The Ramones Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption All four of the original Ramones have now died. L-R: Johnny, Tommy, Joey and Dee Dee Ramone

Blondie, Guns N' Roses and the Red Hot Chili Peppers have paid tribute to Tommy Ramone of seminal US punk band The Ramones, who died on Friday.

"He was a lovely, gentle guy," said Chris Stein, guitarist in Blondie, who played alongside The Ramones in seminal 1970s New York punk venue CBGBs.

"So, so sad to hear about Tommy," added the band's drummer, who occasionally played with The Ramones in the 1980s.

"We lost one of the greats," tweeted Chili Peppers' drummer Chad Smith.

Former Guns N' Roses' stars Slash and Duff McCagan simply tweeted "RIP".

Other tributes came from Motorhead, Billy Bragg and Garbage.

Image copyright BBC / Twitter

Punk rock template

Ramone died on 11 July in Ridgewood, New York, while in hospice care suffering from cancer of the bile duct.

He is survived by his longtime partner Claudia Tienan, brother Peter, sister-in-law Andrea Tienan and nephews Eric and David.

The musician had been the last surviving founding member of The Ramones, whose bare bones, breakneck rock songs inspired legions of other musicians.

Born Erdelyi Tamas in Budapest, Hungary, in 1949, he set up The Ramones with singer Jeffrey Hyman (Joey Ramone) and bassist Douglas Colvin (Dee Dee Ramone).

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The musician was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002

He was initially supposed to be the group's manager - but took up drums after Joey Ramone became the frontman.

"What happened was, they just kept playing faster and faster, and I couldn't keep up on the drums," Joey remembered in punk chronicle Please Kill Me.

"Tommy Ramone, who was managing us, finally had to sit down behind the drums, because nobody else wanted to."

His contribution to the band was vital, however, writing their debut single, Blitzkrieg Bop, in 1976.

The band's songs - with blistering guitars, simplistic chord progressions and track lengths under two minutes - set a template for the punk scene, but they never cracked the US singles chart.

"This is art," Tommy wrote in the liner notes for a Ramones compilation. "Sometimes it doesn't sell at first. Sometimes it takes a while for the world to catch on."

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Media captionRussell Trott looks back at Tommy Ramone's life in music

The UK was more sympathetic to the band's sound - with singles Sheena Is A Punk Rocker, Swallow My Pride and Don't Come Close.

Their cover version of Baby, I Love You - an atypical. string-drenched ballad produced by Phil Spector - reached number eight in 1980.


Tommy Ramone left the band in 1979 but continued to work with them as a producer, notching up credits on the 1984 album Too Tough To Die, and the double live album It's Alive.

His other production credits included The Replacements' 1985 record Tim and Redd Kross's Neurotica.

In 2002, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with his former bandmates, in recognition of songs like I Wanna Be Sedated, Rockaway Beach and Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue.

His influence on a generation of musicians was evident in the number of tributes on Twitter over the weekend.

Motley Crue's Nikki Sixx and Bruce Springsteen's E Streen Band guitarist Nils Lofgren both paid their respects, while rock musician Andrew WK called Ramone "one of the most ground-breaking drummers ever".

Image copyright BBC Twitter

Film composer Clint Mansell - whose soundtracks include Black Swan and The Wrestler - talked about the band's impact on his Facebook page.

"Without the Ramones I'm not sure what my life would have been," wrote the former Pop Will Eat Itself musician.

"They changed everything for me when I heard Sheena Is A Punk a Rocker in 1977.

"There's a through line from that moment to this, right now. Everything I've done was born in that moment. I'm gutted that they're all gone."

BBC 6 Music DJ Lauren Laverne also paid tribute, remembering the time her band, Kenickie, had met The Ramones in London.

"Incredibly sad to hear of the death of Tommy Ramone," she wrote on Twitter. "My band were lucky enough to support the Ramones at their last London gig when we were 16.

"The fact that they would give a Brixton support slot to a bunch of kids who couldn't play, but whose music they liked says all you need to know about what kind of people they are/were.

"RIP Tommy, thanks for the music."

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