TOMMY RAMONE AND SHOW AT THE HUNGARIAN EMBASSY

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This did happen in November, 2004. There was Ramones tribute concert by Hungarian ambassador to the USA in Washington, and Tommy Ramone was a special guest. Tamas Kovacs translated this article/ interview by Mesterhazy Lili for me.

Here's site of Index where is also photos of the event and an interview in Hungarian, click here. Also picture is from the site, so copyright is theirs.

Gabba Gabba Hey at the Hungarian embassy
Exclusive interview with Tommy Ramone

The punkrock party of the last original Ramones-member with Hungarian ambassador Simonyi, with an american ambassador and with a Ramones-geek Rolling Stone journalist. Tommy Ramone member of Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame gave an interview to Index.hu because of Blitzkrieg Bop, Judy Is A Punk, Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue....

It is said that they had saved rock. Their music is now called punkrock, they began it all in the early 70's in one of the clubs in Lower East Side. The members, Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy, started to use the surname Ramone, this way the The Ramones was formed.

Their quick, simple, back-to-the-basics music ruined the cult of songs with guitar solo of 20 minutes. One of their concerts in 1976 in London boosted british musical scene resulting in bands like Clash or Sex Pistols.

Out of four original members of the Ramones only the drummer Tommy with hungarian origin lives. He is the only hungarian who is entered Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

On Thursday evening Tommy Ramone aka Thomas Erdélyi was the guest of Hungarian embassy in Washington, but before that event he gave an exclusive phone-interview to Index.hu. His sound is low. We are speaking in English, but the name of the street "Bajcsy-Zsilinszky" is pronounced perfectly in Hungarian.

Index: You were born in Budapest, you were a little boy when your family moved to New York. What can you remember?
Tommy Ramone: Not much, I have got some childhood memories. I was seven, when in 1956, during the revolution, my parents came to USA. I remember living in Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Street. I have not been to Hungary since then, although my brother goes home sometimes. Nowadays it often comes to my mind to go to Budapest, I left almost 50 years ago.

Index: How did New York look like in the 70's?
Tommy Ramone: Those were special times. There was a club in Lower East Side in the Bowery called CBGB. It was full of bands that hated progressive rock of those times, you know those long songs with 8 minutes guitar solo. We wanted something new, which is honest and simple, which can be said in two minutes. Back to the basics. You could see extremely ingenious and amazing bands in CBGB like Televison or Talking Heads. These were the alternative bands then. They differed very much from each other, but they had one thing in common: they wanted something that differs from stylish things.

Index: How did you meet first with the other members of the Ramones?
Tommy Ramone: Originally I controlled the studio-recording. There were three of them: Joey, Johnny and Dee Dee. I remember I was totally amazed when I heard them playing first. It was just amazing how original, how intensive, impulsive they were. Later on they accepted me as a member. I was the drummer instead of Joey, he started singing. I felt highly honoured.

Index: Do you still use the name "Ramone"? What name can be found - let's say - on your credit card?
Tommy Ramone: (laughs, and speaks Hungarian for a moment) My name is Thomas Erdélyi (he said it in Hungarian). No, no, Tommy Ramone is a stage-name, I use Tom Erdelyi for everything else. Altough nowadays I am Tommy Ramone more and more often. We have made a musical, the first punkrock musical of the world. Its title is Gabba Gabba Hey. We played it in Australia first this summer (2004). It contains 18 Ramones-songs, it is about a young guy leaving home and going to New York to Lower East Side. It takes place in the 80's with real, romantic happy end. It was succesful I work on touring with it.

Index: Johnny Ramone died almost two months ago (in September, 2004). From CNN to Rolling Stone it was mentioned everywhere that Tommy Ramone is the last man standing from the original line-up.
TR: It is very hard. But the most important thing is that this way my responsibility has become even higher. It is very sad and tragic, yes. But I have decided to get over it from an other point of view: for me it is the most important to speak about the Ramones as much as possible, to tell the people what this band was like. I am the last - it is my task.

Ambassador András Simonyi's attention to Tommy Ramone was called by his Ramones-fan daughter:
I didn't know punk rock bands well, but when my daughter told me about it I found it out that Tommy Ramone is the only Hungarian entered Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in Cleveland. I contacted Tommy Ramone through Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. This evening's meeting is a talk with two Hungarians growing up at the two sides of the Iron Curtain and both of them like rock music. When I was young I played music, I was a guitarist on the first record of LGT (it is a famous hungarian progressive rock group of the 70's and the 80's, Tamás). I have become an ambassador, but I think rock music is important in foreign politics - people ruling the world now have grown up on rock music. The talk will be hosted by Chuck D. Young from Rolling Stone, he is the biggest Ramones-expert of America.

Surprise
More than 250 people were invited: diplomats, younger colleagues from White House etc., and the correspondent of Russian Press Agency was interested in Tommy Ramone and András Simonyi's talk. The guests then listened to three Ramones classics Blitzkrieg Bop, Beat On The Brat and Let's Dance performed by Chuck D. Young, András Simonyi and Alexander Vershbow who is the american ambassador in Moscow.
Although Tommy Ramone earlier refused to play on the drums due to emotional reason, but at the end he went on the stage and - in front of the portrait of Bartók, Kodály and Liszt - sang Let's Dance together with Simonyi. He didn't play on drums. As he said: I haven't used drumstick for 27 years. HeyHo, Let's Go.

Thanks Tamas Kovacs and Mesterhazy Lili.