Behind the Death of Johnny Ramone

Co-founder of The Ramones, John Cummings, passed away on September 15, 2004. The guitarist was an original member of the classic punk rock outfit. After joining forces with the other band members, Cummings became Johnny Ramone.

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He was just 55 years old when he died of prostate cancer complications. Prior to his death, he helped create some of the most seminal punk songs of all time. Revisit his and his fellow band members’ road to fame, below.

[RELATED: Top 10 Ramones Songs]

John Cummings

Cummings was born in Queens, New York City on October 8, 1948. He first dabbled in music as part of a band called the Tangerine Puppets. Tamás Erdélyi (aka Tommy Ramone) was also a part of the band.

Prior to the Ramones earning fame, he worked as a plumber with his father and even attended a military academy–which likely informed his anti-establishment attitudes while in the band.

In the early ’70s, he connected with Douglas Colvin (who would later become Dee Dee Ramone) while delivering dry cleaning. After swapping influences, they decided to foray into music together. In the early days, they collaborated with Jeffrey Hyman (Joey Ramone) and Richie Stern. Stern quickly left the band and was replaced by Erdélyi (Tommy Ramone).

The Ramones

Each of the band members changed their surname to Ramone. The name comes from a pseudonym Paul McCartney used to use at the height of the Beatles’ fame, Paul Ramone.

The Ramones got off to a quick start. Their first few albums were critical successes, but Road to Ruin launched their career to new heights. Among the track list is “I Wanna Be Sedated.” The anthem remains one of the group’s biggest songs.

That track as well as their other name-making hits like “Blitzkrieg Bop,” “Beat on the Brat,” and “Baby, I Love You,” helped to establish the Ramones’ now iconic sound.

Their debut, self-titled record remains their most lauded. The 1976 album helped to catch the attention of rock fans, rock critics, and renowned producer Phil Spector, who would later work with the band.

Johnny Ramone

Johnny Ramone fought prostate cancer for five years.

A number of Ramone’s famous friends were at his bedside when he died, including his wife, Linda Cummings, Pearl Jam rocker Eddie Vedder, singer Rob Zombie, Lisa Marie Presley, Pete Yorn, Vincent Gallo, and Talia Shire.

Photo by Richard E. Aaron/Redferns

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