He was born in Budapest, Hungary, as Erdélyi Tamás, but his name was changed to Thomas Erdelyi when his parents brought him to the United States. He grew up in Forrest Hills, Queens, where he played in a band with John Cummings, the guitarist who would later become Johnny Ramone. In the mid-‘70s, the pair joined up with Jeffrey Hyman and Douglas Colvin—also known as Joey and Dee Dee Ramone—to form The Ramones, and Thomas Erdelyi officially became their drummer, Tommy Ramone.
The Ramones released their debut album, Ramones, in 1976, and, of course, later went on to become one of the most legendary punk bands of all time. Tommy was around for the band’s first four albums, playing drums on Ramones, Leave Home, and Rocket To Russia, but he dialed back his role for 1978’s Road To Ruin, which he co-produced but didn’t play on. Tommy also helped write a number of the band’s early hits, including “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” and the iconic “Blitzkrieg Bop.” In 1984, Tommy returned to The Ramones—who had recorded three albums without him—to produce Too Tough To Die, which was positioned as the band’s “back to basics” record.
The Ramones are often credited with “saving” rock and roll music from disco and overly theatrical arena rock. The band, having influenced countless other acts in its wake, was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2002, finally achieving the mainstream recognition that it had never really tried to get in the first place.