Jari-Pekka Laitio-Ramone: Would you like to tell
of your first practises as a Ramones drummer?
Tommy Ramone (tells in Rock In
Peace: Dee Dee And Joey Ramone): It was strange, because as soon as
I started playing drums things seemed to click. It was as if it locked
into place. Right away we had what became the Ramones sound. I guess it
was the missing ingredient. Before I started playing the sound was
choppy and with me playing it became smooth and driving, Tommy told me
Tommy recounted to me many times a situation how he was the drummer,
spokesman and first manager of the Ramones. Tommy Ramone started as
manager and Joey Ramone as a drummer, but Tommy become a drummer and
let Joey sing.
Jari-Pekka: How it also felt when Joey
sang then first time?
Tommy Ramone (Rock In
Peace: Dee Dee And Joey Ramone): Joey was much more natural as a
singer than as a drummer. He had a great voice and, I felt, a unique and
strong presence as a vocalist. Things worked out perfect once he became
the lead singer.
Jari-Pekka: Can you explain again those reasons
why you decided to leave the Ramones?
Tommy Ramone (tells in Ramones:
Soundtrack Of Our Lives): What made the Ramones great was that they
were all unique and crazy personalities; which also made it hard to be
with them all the time, 24 hours a day. What made them so good, were
their crazy personalities. But what made them good also, made them
impossible to be with. It was like being in some kind of bizarre cult.
They had their own world view. I was kind of losing my sense of reality.
I was the coordinator and idea man. After four years, they were driving
me crazy and for the sake of my sanity and for the sake of the band, I
decided to bring Marky Ramone to the band. That was a bright idea, bring
in a drummer, then you kept writings songs with them and produced the
records. Someone else would go on the road with them. In the recording
studio I was free, I was creative and in control. On the road, I was a
confused and abused passenger. It felt as if I was on the verge of a
nervous breakdown...., Tommy Ramone told me.
Tommy was the producer on six Ramones albums: Ramones (1976), Leave
Home (1977), Rocket To Russia (1977), Road To Ruin (1978), It's Alive
(1979), and Too Tough To Die (1984). Related to recording and producing,
he worked mostly with Tony Bongiovi and Ed Stasium on early
Jari-Pekka: You helped to get the Ramones back
to their roots with the album, Too Tough To Die (1984) didn't you?
Tommy Ramone: (tells in Ramones:
Soundtrack Of Our Lives): They brought me back for Too Tough To Die.
That time, they wanted to do that and I was very happy when they called
me up and asked me to be the producer. Too Tough To Die was a great
opportunity for us to get together again. Too bad that record did not
sell a million copies, I might have had a chance to do more albums with
them, which I would have loved to have done.
Jari-Pekka: What are your feelings about being
inducted into the
Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame? What was it like to appear at the induction
Tommy Ramone: (tells in Rock In
Peace: Dee Dee And Joey Ramone) It was a great honor. It meant that
we were recognized as an innovative
and important band. This was very important to us. Usually the artists
that are inducted sell millions of records. For us to be chosen meant
that they recognized what an important contribution the Ramones made.
The ceremony was like being in a dream. Here we were being inducted with
some of our idols like Brenda Lee, Gene Pitney, Isaac Hayes - it seemed
unreal. It was an unusual and unique experience for us, Tommy Ramone
First time Tommy gave information about 2000's Uncle Monk
was in 2003-2004. In my second book Rock
In Peace: Dee Dee And Joey Ramone he does mention of it.
Soon later Uncle Monk became active and of course I promoted it and
their shows here on my site. When I look listing of their shows here
on my site, 2000's Uncle Monk had their premier performance at BD
Riley's, in Austin, TX, on Saturday, March 18, 2006, as part of the
South By Southwest Festival. Last one was this: July 5, 2012, The
Bowery Electric, New York, USA. CBGB festival.
The debut CD for Uncle Monk was available on March 16, 2006. The
CD has 14 songs. The musical style was a bit of
a surprising mix for some Ramones fans, and also for many others, a
refreshing acquaintance. Uncle Monk did an alt-country bluegrass.
Tommy said that there are a lot of similarities between punk and
old-time music. Both are home-brewed music as opposed to schooled,
and both have an earthy energy. Anybody can pick up an instrument
and start playing.
Tommy Ramone wrote to me in late November, 2012, that they are still
working with second Uncle Monk album.
Tommy wrote: "Yes, Claudia and I are finishing up the next record.
One of my latest interviews with Tommy I did in April, 2010, (read it
here) of one tour and on it Tommy also explains of second album:
- We keep coming up with new songs so we keep recording. Our new record
will have some unique songs on them mostly based on our lives and
philosophies. there will be indie songs, bluegrass songs, old-time
songs, romantic songs, and unclassifiable songs, Tommy
Jari-Pekka Laitio-Ramone: Besides the guitar,
you do play
mandolin, banjo, and dobro on the CD (Jari-Pekka's note: 80's Uncle Monk
was a bit different. Third member was drummer). How long have you been
playing these instruments?
Tommy Ramone: (tells in Ramones:
Soundtrack Of Our Lives): I have been playing these instruments
since 1994-1996. I have always liked that kind of music. I also have
always wanted to take this music and put it into a rock or a pop band;
but as I was doing that through
the years, I realized that it was more fun just playing it acoustic. I
enjoyed playing acoustic and it sounded better acoustic. So from the
beginning of new Uncle Monk, it was just the two of us, Claudia and me.
This is because I didn't want to get a drummer and things like that,
Tommy says in Ramones: Soundtrack Of Our Lives.
Jari-Pekka: What instrument was the most
challenging for you?
Tommy Ramone: All bluegrass instruments are
challenging. I have spent many years learning these instruments,
practising, and I enjoy them very much. The mandolin has no sustain so
one has to develop new techniques to compensate for that.
The banjo has a drone 5th string and is totally different from the
guitar. The Dobro, uses a slide and is in open tunings, the fiddle has
no frets; but they are all rewarding to play as they make wonderful
music, Tommy said to me.
Jari-Pekka: Claudia, can you please give readers
an idea about some of the songs you play?
Claudia Tienan: Some songs came from experience
while others came from the observation of environments. Others songs
came from reading the newspapers and watching the news on TV. It can be
disturbing to see what is going on now, Claudia says in Ramones:
Soundtrack Of Our Lives.
I do remember how happy I was in October 17, 2007, when Tommy and
Tommy Ramone: "We just did a show with the
legendary Earl Scruggs at
the BB King Blues Club. We cannot put into words the feelings that we
experienced having the honour of meeting him. We also got to meet his
sons Randy and Gary, what a wonderful night!"
Stanley is the survivor of the Stanley Brothers, one of the few
remaining figures of the first generation of bluegrass musicians.
Jari-Pekka: Tommy, so it meant a lot for you
and Claudia to play as the opening act for Ralph Stanley and Earl
Tommy Ramone: Right, Ralph Stanley and Earl
Scruggs are two pioneers of bluegrass and we were very lucky to have a
chance to open for those classic, great artists. It was wonderful
opportunity. Something that no-one could have imagined would have
happened. It was just incredible. They were really nice people and very
friendly to us and they were great shows. We had a great time, Tommy
I also asked Tommy to tell early memories of Stanley and Scruggs
and many, many other things. In all my interview of Uncle Monk with
Tommy and Claudia has two pages long in Ramones:
Soundtrack Of Our Lives.
I am happy that I had chance to inform readers on my books and now also
here on my page, what kind of happy and exciting experiences Tommy and
Claudia had with Uncle Monk. There were not too many of us who made long
interview with Tommy of Uncle Monk. I knew it meant a lot Tommy to tell
Rest In Peace with Joey, Dee Dee and Johnny my friend Tommy.
Danny Fields is early Ramones' manager.
Bob Gruen is one of most legendary punk and rock photographers since
Michael Alago is multitalent in music business since 70's, famous
man who found and signed Metallica and White Zombie, photographer etc.
Spencer Drate is most famous of his works as a album designer, he
designed albums to the Ramones, Talking Heads etc.
Band who played in this event was The Martinets. One member in The
Martinets is Daniel Rey who produced for example
Ramones' album Adios Amigos, he recorded material with Joey Ramone to
both of Joey's solo albums and who produced Dee Dee's Zonked album and
wrote many songs together with Dee Dee to some of the Ramones
So this event was also in honor of the Ramones playing at CBGB for the
first time 40 years. CBGB is one of most legendary clubs ever, founded
by Hilly Kristal. New York club was opened in 1973 and got closed in
2006. It was in Bowery, 150 meters away from Arturo Vega's
(Ramones' creative director) house where
Joey Ramone and Dee Dee Ramone also lived in early 70's. The Ramones
played really lot of their early gigs at CBGB's. CBGB was kind of
birthplace of punk. So this event now in August 16 is at The Bowery
Electric what is only 100 meters away from place where CBGB was. My
interview with Hilly Kristal you can find from my first book Heaven Needed A
Lead Singer: Fans Remember Joey Ramone.
TOMMY RAMONE' TRIBUTE TEXT BY RAMONES' ROAD MANAGER
MONTE A. MELNICK:
Tommy was my dearest and oldest friend. We grew up together in Forest
Hills, Queens, New York. I went to Stephen A Halsey Jr High and Forest
Hills High school with him. He got me to pick up the bass guitar and
enter into the crazy world of rock music. We played in several bands
together (Triad & Butch) here in NYC over the late 60's and early 70's.
We built and managed Performance Studios in NYC, a recording/rehearsal
studio the Ramones started in. I worked with him when he was in the
Ramones and well after he left. He had an advanced musical foresight,
well ahead of the times in forming and being part of the Ramones. He
was a great musician on the guitar, then the drums, later on the
mandolin, banjo, fiddle and many more instruments.
His musical expanse bridged from Punk to Indie Bluegrass.I mourn the
passing of the last of the original Ramones, my friend and a
true musical visionary.
Monte A. Melnick
TOMMY RAMONE TRIBUTE TEXT BY BLONDIE'S DEBBIE
HARRY AND CHRIS STEIN:
By Debbie Harry:
Tommy seemed to me so understated compared to the rest of The
Ramones. But I loved the way he played, and this light, very accessible
style made those early songs loved by everyone. He added so much to
their recording style and origination that I will mourn them
even more now that he's gone, too, said Debbie Harry to NME.
By Chris Stein:
I met Tommy early on. He had a band called Butch that played at Mercer
Arts Center, maybe in 1972. Later, after the Mercer literally collapsed
and I had started working with Debbie, I ran
into him and he told me he had a new band called The Ramones. I probably
was at their first show at CBGB's and remember how awesome they were in
spite of their rawness. Tommy was an amazing asset to the group, and I
was always taken by his light drumming technique that somehow drove
their very powerful, ferocious sound. He was a gentle and supersmart guy
and a mover and shaper of the New York underground music scene, and we
all will remember him fondly, said Chris Stein to NME.
TOMMY RAMONE TRIBUTE TEXT BY CHRIS
FRANTZ OF THE TALKING HEADS IN ROLLINGSTONE:
This text by Chris Frantz was published originally in
tour Talking Heads ever did was supporting the Ramones in
Europe in the spring of 1977. We shared a bus, and I talked
with Tommy a lot. His family had fled the Iron Curtain in
Hungary. He had a seriousness about him that was different from
most people in the business. The other Ramones deferred to him
because he had the experience and the leadership qualities the
others didn't quite have.
Tommy played the same part on every song, either a bit faster
or a bit slower - usually faster - and he boiled things down to
their essence. There were no fills, except maybe on the "Hey,
ho!" chant. It was sheer minimalist perfection. Tommy was a
songwriter, too - he wrote "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend," one of
the most direct love songs in rock history.
The Ramones were a great band, but as time wore on, it was not
fun for Tommy. This was the time of gobbing as a sign of
approval, and they'd have to wipe down his drum set after the
shows. He didn't like the spit part at all. So I wasn't
surprised when he decided to give up his post and let Marky
Ramone take over in 1978.
The Ramones didn't always like one another very much. But Tommy
was so important to the groove of that band. He was a small
guy, but you never got that, listening to him play. He sounded
like a big guy.
So this text by Chris Frantz was published originally in
TOMMY RAMONE TRIBUTE TEXT BY LAMB OF GOD'S RANDY
The last original Ramone, Tommy Ramone, has died, & with him the last
of one of the main roots of all modern punk/hc/and metal as we know it
today. The importance of the Ramones in the history of underground
music cannot be overstated - before the Sex Pistols, The Clash, Black
Flag and waaaaaaay before any speed/thrash metal band, the Ramones were
blowing minds with LOUD, FAST, AGGRESSIVE music.
Although to the calloused ears of modern youth who have grown up
listening to crust punk/grind core/speed & thrash metal/and even some
of the more aggressive music on commercial radio, the Ramones might
sound like fast pop, at the time they started playing out in NYC at
CBGB/ Max's Kansas City (1974) they were something that had never ever
been seen or heard before. The first time my band played CBGB, I was
completely emotionally overwhelmed - "Man, the FREAKING RAMONES started
out here!" I thought as I stood on stage - I almost started crying.
Without that band, the tempo of underground music would have never
reached the speed that it has today - there were a bunch of glam bands &
hippies at that time, & (yeeeech) disco was big - the Ramones came along
& blasted everyone straight out of the water.
No Ramones = no Lamb Of God, or any of the
other music most fans of my band listen to. Metal existed, but it was
not until punk rock kicked it right square in the ass with a combat boot
that things got FAST & AGGRESSIVE. Tommy passed away from cancer
yesterday in Queens, NYC, at the age of 62. Rest in peace, bro, & thank
you for helping to create the music that changed and saved my life,
wrote Randy Blythe on Instagram.
SHORT COMMENTS OF TOMMY RAMONE BY ARTISTS:
Text by Andrew W.K. Marky Ramone's Blitzkrieg did in 2013 and 2014 few
tours Andrew W.K. being singer.
- Just found out that Tommy Ramone died today. One of the most ground
breaking drummers and producers ever. And always nice, wrote Andrew
Text by Nikki Sixx of the Motley Crue.
- Sad to hear of the passing of Tommy Ramone from the Ramones. Thank you
for the inspiration, wrote Nikki Sixx.
Text by Garbage band who recorded I Just Want To Have Something To
Do to We're A Happy Family - A Tribute To The Ramones CD.
- RIP Tommy Ramone. The last of the unique neurotics. Thanks for the
dance. You were unforgettable, wrote Garbage.
Text by film composer Clint Mansell and and lead singer of Pop Will Eat
- Tommy Ramone is gone. The last of the (original) brudders. I'm deeply
saddened. Without the Ramones I'm not sure what my life would have
been. They changed everything for me when I heard Sheena Is A Punk
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. Sleep well, my brudders, wrote Clint Mansell.
Text by Jason Ringenberg, who is lead singer of Jason & the Scorchers.
He started playing in alternative rock, rock, and country-bands in 1980.
- Tommy Ramone passed away of cancer. I am saddened to hear
this. He played mandolin on my last Farmer Jason release Nature Jams,
and did a bang up job. I knew him and ran into him a lot when he was
doing his bluegrass gig. He was a legend and a gentleman, wrote Jason
Ringenberg created that children's music character (Farmer Jason) in
2002. Tommy Ramone and Hank Williams III plays on song titled Manatee in