Cold Fury

Harshing your mellow since 9/01

Gone but not forgotten

From MisHum’s ONT:

January 29, 1952, Born on this day, Thomas Erdelyi, (Tommy Ramone), Hungarian drummer with the Ramones who had the 1977 UK No.22 single ‘Sheena Is A Punk Rocker’. Erdelyi also worked as a record producer and was an assistant engineer for the production of the Jimi Hendrix album Band of Gypsys. He died on July 11, 2014 following unsuccessful treatment for bile duct cancer.via thisdayinmusic.com

He embeds a Ramones clip, of course, but my personal favorite video of theirs is from earlier in their storied history, with the added bonus of actually including Tommy thrown in:




The buzzing, distortion-soaked overdrive permeating every frame of this video, “Loudmouth” most especially, is something that doubtless horrified the sound engineers working on the Arturo’s Loft TV show when it aired in ’75, but it’s the very thing that makes it work. The raw, adrenaline-soaked energy revved up by that joyously-homicidal buzzsaw is pure Ramones, a HUGE part of what made them great.

That’s an almighty thick wall of bone-crusher sound those four skinny, awkward twerps from Queens are putting out—the birth of a true rock and roll revolution whose towering impact still reverberates to this day. Notice how Joey’s knees are trembling at around 20-25 seconds in; he’s wound up so tight by the sheer grinding power of the monster he and his bandmates are unleashing he’s damned near to shattering like cheap glass. He desperately clings onto the mic stand as if it were the only thing tethering him to life itself…then casually kicks it away and slings it around as if to express his disdain for life preservers of any kind, declaring his defiant willingness to sink or swim on his damned own, thanksverymuch.

Nobody who hasn’t personally experienced that dizzying rush can ever begin to imagine how good it feels. And there’s no way to explain it with mere words, either; they just aren’t adequate. It doesn’t happen every time you walk onstage, of course. But as Dave Edmonds once said, the times it does are what get you through the times it doesn’t, and are what keeps you coming back hoping for more of it. Truly, it’s the most powerful addiction there is. I’m out of the game now myself, and even though I never attained the level of success the Ramones did, I still miss it every minute of every day.

I’ve posted a good many times on the Ramones in this space: for example, here, here, here, and here. Hard to believe they’re all gone now except Marky—all the Founding Four, Johnny, Joey, Dee Dee, and Tommy. RIP, boys, and thanks for the music. Ya done good.

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2 thoughts on “Gone but not forgotten

  1. It really hit me hard when I read your words, “I’m out of the game now myself”. I was there when you got IN the game. I remember sitting on your front stoop in Mt Holly, stripping the paint off that old Strat. I remember bringing over a VINYL ALBUM, “Yesterday and Today”, by Yesterday and Today. Listening to it once or twice, then watching you strap on that Strat and playing along with the album. You were, and are, the best guitar player I have ever personally seen perform. From the punk days, to the Powerglides, to the World Famous Belmont Playboys, you have kept a lot of people entertained. I am damn proud to have you call me a friend, and I’m truly saddened that I may have seen my last Belmont Playboys show. Getting old ain’t much fun.

  2. My heart cracked audibly reading those kind words, Rusty. I hate like hell the idea of not being able to pick up a guitar again, I die a little every passing day from it. But with Viking Disease, diabetes, and the general frailness and feebleness of age, any Playboys show I attempted wouldn’t be anything more than a pale, inadequate shadow of what it ought to be, and once was; I won’t cheat the audience, the band’s rep, or the band themselves by doing such a thing. If I thought I could get out there and pound it into the ground like we used to do, I’d love to. As things stand now, though, it just ain’t possible.

    It’s tough for sure. All those years I was “Mike from the Belmont Playboys,” and I liked the role, it was wonderful. Now it’s gone, and I barely even know who I am anymore. We had ourselves one hell of a good run, and now the stories–good as they are, enjoyable as they are to reminisce about–are all that’s left. It’s truly, truly painful, to be lucky enough to have had so much…and then to see it all stripped away. But that’s life, I guess. Getting old ain’t for pussies. Honestly, I can’t think of a single damned thing to recommend it. Some days I ain’t entirely sure it even beats the alternative. Thanks again for your too-kind words, and God bless you and your family. Yes, even that wild-ass brother of yours. 😉

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