Punk guitarist Johnny Ramone dies at age 55

He had 5-year battle with prostate cancer

September 16, 2004|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

LOS ANGELES -- Johnny Ramone, the guitarist whose bursts of primitive punk energy helped the Ramones go from an obscure New York band to a reshaping force in rock 'n' roll, died yesterday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 55.

Ramone, born John Cummings but known by the surname adopted by each of the punk group's members, died in his sleep and surrounded by friends, according to his family. The guitarist had been battling prostate cancer for five years and took a turn for the worse in June when he was hospitalized with an infection.

The Ramones were a potent and beloved force in punk rock, although their influence and acclaim came late in the game. The band, known for songs that were simple, short and frenetic, formed in 1974 in Forest Hills, N.Y., and their influence was immediate in the late 1970s underground music revolution of punk, but the members watched as other acts garnered the largest spotlight.

Inducted last year into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and celebrated in a documentary film, End of the Century, now in theaters, the Ramones had to wait until most of their membership had died to be hailed by mainstream pop culture as a pioneering force.

With Johnny's death, only one member of the original quartet, drummer Tommy Ramone, is still alive.

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