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Tom Verlaine

Television’s Tom Verlaine, Dead At 73

Tom Verlaine (Christian Bertrand /
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(CelebrityAccess) — Tom Verlaine, a musician and songwriter best known as the frontman for the New York City-based punk rock band Television has died. He was 73.

According to the New York Times, his death was announced by Jesse Paris Smith, the daughter Verlaine’s frequent collaborator Patti Smith, who said he died “after a brief illness.”

Born as Thomas Miller, Verlaine relocated to New York City where he launched the punk band, the Neon Boys with Richard Hell and Billy Ficca. However, the group quickly dissolved and with the addition of guitarist Richard Lloyd, reformed as Television and began performing in New York City’s early punk scene and quickly developed a local following.

In 1975, Verlaine kicked Hell out of the band for his erratic playing and behavior, replacing him with Fred Smith ahead of the release of their debut single, “Little Johnny Jewel” (Parts One and Two).

The following year, Television released their first studio album Marquee Moon, which cracked the Billboard 200. Television’s second album, Adventure, came two years later but the group disbanded following its release due to creative differences.

During the 1980s, Verlaine pursued a solo career, releasing a series of albums under his own name, starting in 1979 with his eponymously titled solo debut, up through 2007 when he released Around, via the Chicago-based indie label Thrill Jockey.

Verlaine joined the other members of  Television for a reunion in 1992 and the group performed live sporadically afterward, including at the All Tomorrow’s Parties in 2001 and the Beco 203 music festival in São Paulo in 2011.

As well, Verlaine was part of the Million Dollar Bashers, a supergroup that included Lee Ranaldo and Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth), Wilco guitarist Nels Cline, Bob Dylan bassist Tony Garnier, guitarist Smokey Hormel, and keyboardist John Medeski.

Despite his relatively modest commercial success as an artist, Verlaine was an influential guitarist, noted for his complex, layered sound and innovative use of guitar effects.

“Tom Verlaine has passed over to the beyond that his guitar playing always hinted at. He was the best rock and roll guitarist of all time, and like Hendrix could dance from the spheres of the cosmos to garage rock. That takes a special greatness,” Mike Scott of The Waterboys noted on Twitter after his passing.

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