Last weekend, we lost the great “Tommy Ramone” the last original of “The Ramones”.

Tommy had been SUCH an integral part of my music collection VERY early on, but I just didn’t know it.

I’d always been a Ramones fan, as far back as I can remember, I think around the time I got MTV (which for me I was a teenager, I just never had cable, people make early Nickelodeon jokes and I just smile and stare at them blankly) so MTV had a show called “120 Minutes” and I watched it obsessively (to be fair, I watched “Headbangers Ball” and “YO MTV RAPS” obsessively too) but the second I saw that Ramones video “I WANNA BE SEDATED” I was hooked. These guys, they made this wonderful catchy tune, and I immediately had run out to get a few of their records…my first haul of Ramones records was “LOCO LIVE”, “HALFWAY TO SANITY” and “BRAIN DRAIN”…eventually to take it easier on my thin-pathetic- almost empty- teenage wallet, I bought “RAMONES MANIA”, and “ALL THE STUFF AND MORE” VOLUMES 1 AND 2, each one had 30+ songs, so it was easier as I was making 4 bucks an hour at “Pats Cards and News Shop”, where I started working at 14 years old, pretty much to fund all the music I wanted to buy. Should I have maybe saved for a car or some cooler clothes than the ones I was wearing? YEAH PROBABLY, but I didn’t. I bought tons of music instead. The Ramones, WOW. These were amazing sugary pop songs, thrown into a blender and turned to “frappe”, I was hooked, and I mean REALLY hooked. No girls liked me, and at 14-15 years old, I certainly didn’t have many cool things to do anyway, so I specifically remember on Saturday nights, playing those records over and over, and even putting it on “shuffle” so I can hear them in a different order. Then I would make a compilation mix of songs I liked, as I had to be at work the next morning at 6am or whenever to start assembling the Sunday newspapers at “Pats Cards and News Shop” (Sunday papers all arrive in sections, so you have to assemble them and get your hands filthy and black from all the ink) I brought a boom box with me and I played these Ramones compilations, which mostly, no one wanted to hear. I mean it’s 6am and you have some fast talking 14 year old in your ear babbling about Ramones deep cuts, I don’t blame my co workers in that era. It started then, pretty much coinciding with when I discovered “THE REPLACEMENTS” (which I equally played to the point where no one let me control the music selections any longer) my first Replacements record was called “TIM” and I played it in my headphones over and over and over. Something about it. I read the liner notes, saw it was produced by TOMMY ERDELYI, who was also thanked on a SMITHEREENS record I was also playing non stop. So here we are, my life’s soundtrack (well at 14-15) was The Ramones, The Smithereens, and The Replacements, and somehow it ended up all being connected, this Tommy Erdelyi WAS Tommy Ramone, Tommy Ramone WAS Tommy Erdelyi! If he wasn’t drumming or producing the Ramones, he was getting thanked by the Smithereens or producing that amazing Replacements record (he actually produced a couple of them) so for a lot of years in my young life, it was tough to find something I wasn’t obsessing over in which this guy WASN’T somehow connected.

With art though, that’s the great thing, it’ll last forever. We lost Tommy Ramone, but his music will last forever, and any memory of my teen years til now (I’m currently 406 years old) will always have that feeling, that excited “new” feeling of hearing that music, I’ll never ever forget that feeling, and I’m so thankful this guy was around. He’ll be missed.

UPDATED: I just remembered this Ramones story. I was maybe a little older, still teenaged, and they were playing this dive venue in NEWARK DELAWARE called “THE STONE BALLOON” (Springsteen and Metallica played there) and I asked the bouncer if I could come in. He said no. I promised I wouldn’t drink and that I’d just see the gig, hands in my pockets, I’d even stand next to him to he could see I was behaving. Then I said “I’ll be so quiet!” and they kicked me out. It was worth a try. The Ramones are now all gone, and the Stone Balloon was plowed over and rebuilt as “the Stone Balloon Wine Bar” I’m actually unhappy at all of how that turned out.

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