Originally intended to be the band's manager, Tommy, born Erdélyi Tamás, was one of the founding members of The Ramones, joining Johnny, Dee Dee and Joey Ramone to form one of the gnarliest rock quartets the Eastern Seaboard had ever encountered in 1974. Coming up in the CBGB and Max's Kansas City scene of New York in the '70s, The Ramones shouldered up alongside The New York Dolls, The Velvet Underground, Blondie, Patti Smith and other musical icons in the making, plowing into rock history with with their black leather jackets, blunt bangs and body-shaking sound that would go on to inspire countless other acts.
Everyone from The Clash to Green Day to Metallica have cited Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy as the guys who made them realize just how powerful a wall of sound can be. Their straightforward approach earned "I Wanna Be Sedated," "Blitzkrieg Bop," "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" (penned by Tommy) and other tracks from their ear-splitting arsenal an eternal place in the American rock canon.
"We play rock & roll," Tommy told Rolling Stone in 1976. "We don't do solos. Our only harmonics are in the overtones from the guitar chords."
The Ramones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Hame in 2002. Tommy was in hospice care at home at the time of his passing, following treatment for bile duct cancer.