Johnny Ramone, whose fast, loud and primitive guitar work helped lead the punk revolution, died in his sleep on Wednesday afternoon in Los Angeles, The Associated Press reports. He was 55.
Ramone (real name John Cummings), who had suffered from prostate cancer for five years (see "Johnny Ramone Is Not Dying, His Doctor Says"), is the third founding member of the seminal punk band to pass away. Singer Joey Ramone died in 2001 of lymphatic cancer (see "Punk Pioneer Joey Ramone Dead At 49"), and bassist Dee Dee Ramone died of a drug overdose the following year (see "Dee Dee Ramone Found Dead In Los Angeles").
The Ramones, whose original lineup also included drummer Tommy Ramone, formed in 1974 in New York, making a name for themselves with rapid-fire rock and roll that was as catchy as it was loud. Though remembered for such widely known songs as "Blitzkrieg Bop" and "I Wanna Be Sedated," the Ramones never found mainstream success. The group, which called it quits in 1996, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002 (see "Vedder Rambles, Green Day Scramble As Ramones Enter Hall ").
On Sunday the Ramones' legacy was saluted again at an all-star Hollywood concert that included performances by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pete Yorn and members of Pearl Jam, the Sex Pistols and Bad Religion (see "Chili Peppers, Vedder, Rollins Rock Ramones Tribute Show"). A documentary on the band, "End of the Century," is currently in limited release (see " 'End Of The Century': The Ramones' Long, Sad Trip, By Kurt Loder").
Cummings, who grew up in Queens and worked in construction before joining the Ramones, had retired to Los Angeles with his wife, Linda, where he was reportedly working on his memoirs. Family members and friends — including Eddie Vedder, Rob Zombie, Lisa Marie Presley and Vincent Gallo — were at his home when he passed, according to the AP report.