Tommy Ramone, Co-Founder Of The Ramones, Dies At 65

Tommy Ramone, born Tom Erdelyi, has died at age 65. The drummer was the last living member of the legendary punk band he helped create.

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

And we end tonight's show with the sad thing - a look back at the life of one of the forefathers of punk.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ROCKAWAY BEACH")

THE RAMONES: (Singing) One, two, three, four.

MCEVERS: Tommy Ramone was a founding member of The Ramones. And he was the last surviving original member of the band. He died yesterday at the age of 65.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ROCKAWAY BEACH")

THE RAMONES: (Singing) Chewing at a rhythm on my bubblegum. The sun is out, I want some. It's not hard, not far to reach. We can hitch a ride to Rockaway Beach.

MCEVERS: Born Erdelyi Tamas in Budapest, Hungary to Holocaust survivors, Tommy Ramone moved to Queens, New York as a child. He'd originally intended to be The Ramones' manager. But Tommy agreed to take over the drum set from Joey Ramone, so he could move to the front of the stage and sing. Tommy wrote the bands first bio. Here's a section. (Reading) The Ramones all originate from Forest Hills and kids who grew up there either became musicians, degenerates or dentist. The Ramones are a little of each. Their sound is not unlike a fast thrill on a rear molar.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ROCKAWAY BEACH")

MCEVERS: Tommy Ramone played on the band's first three albums, which basically defined punk rock from then on - songs like "Rockaway Beach," "Beat On The Brat," "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker," "I Want To Be Sedated." He also wrote this one.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I WANT TO BE YOUR BOYFRIEND")

THE RAMONES: (Singing) Hey, little girl. I want to be your boyfriend.

MCEVERS: In a 1978 documentary named after The Ramones' song "Blitzkrieg Bop," Tommy Ramone talked about one of the band's first shows at the legendary club, CBGB, in downtown New York.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "BLITZKRIEG BOB")

TOMMY RAMONE: The audience - at that time, there wasn't much of an audience. It was in the Bowery and nobody wanted to go down to the Bowery. Some derelicts and some brave people sometimes came down and they liked it.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SHEENA IS A PUNK ROCKER")

THE RAMONES: (Singing) Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Sheena is a punk rocker. Sheena is a punk rocker. Sheena is a punk rocker now.

MCEVERS: Tommy Ramone left the band in 1978. He went on to produce other albums, including the classic "Tim" by The Replacements. He also tried his hand at performing again as part of the country music duo Uncle Monk. Here's him singing.

(SOUNDBITE OF UNCLE MONK SONG)

RAMONE: (Singing) You get mad and I'll get madder. You get bad and I'll get better - coming 'round the bend.

MCEVERS: Tommy Ramone talked to this program back in 2004. He told us about that first spark that ignited The Ramones.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

RAMONE: What The Ramones were looking for was the initial feel of rock and roll. The bands I listened to on my radio, when I was a kid when I came to the United States - that whomp-a-ma-loopa, that quick energy, the sexuality, the excitement. The - we wanted to bring that back. And we wanted to bring back short songs and we wanted to play them fast.

MCEVERS: The Ramone's drummer, Tommy Ramone, died yesterday at his home in Queens. He was 65.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HEY HO, LET'S GO")

THE RAMONES: (Singing) Hey, ho, let's go. Hey, ho, let's go. Hey, ho, let's go. Hey, ho, let's go.

MCEVERS: And for Saturday, that's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR West. I'm Kelly McEvers. Tomorrow, a chat with Karyn Parsons. You might remember her as the airhead princess, Hilary Banks, from "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE FRESH PRINCE OF BEL-AIR")

KARYN PARSONS: (As Hilary Banks) Dad, I need $300.

(LAUGHTER)

JAMES AVERY: (As Philip Banks) That's a lot of money, Hilary. What for?

PARSONS: (As Hilary Banks) I need a new hat.

MCEVERS: Today, Karyn Parsons runs an organization creating short, animated films about little-known, yet influential, African-Americans.

PARSONS: In schools, we learn about a hand-full of stories. Great stories. But still, we're missing out on so much.

MCEVERS: That's tomorrow. Until then, thanks for listening and have a good night.

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