Tom Verlaine, Television Singer and guitarist, Dies at 73

Tom Verlaine, the legendary punk singer and guitarist for Television, passed away at 73. According to Jesse Paris Smith, daughter of Patti Smith, Verlaine passed away peacefully in New York City after a brief illness. Patti Smith expressed her sadness in a tribute on Instagram, saying that Verlaine’s unique vision and imagination will be deeply missed. Verlaine’s impact on the punk music scene and his contributions to the genre will always be remembered and celebrated.

Verlaine’s Early Career and Punk Roots

Tom Verlaine, born Thomas Miller, was a visionary musician who co-founded the legendary punk rock band Television. He formed the band in 1973, with guitarist Richard Lloyd, after a brief stint in the short-lived act the Neon Boys alongside his high school classmate Richard Hell. Verlaine and Television made their mark at the seminal punk clubs of the time, like CBGB and Max’s Kansas City, where they wowed audiences with their unique sound that blended punk with jazz.

Image source- NPR

Patti Smith, who was in the audience at one of Television’s early shows, would later describe Verlaine’s guitar work as “imagination” personified. After Hell’s departure, Verlaine and Lloyd took the reins and went on to create their masterpiece “Marquee Moon”. This album, according to Rolling Stone, was “the most interesting and audacious of a series of 1977 releases from CBGB bands like Blondie and the Ramones, but also the most unsettling.”

Tom Verlaine was a true artist whose influence on the punk genre is still felt today. He will be remembered for his imaginative vision and his exceptional guitar work that pushed the boundaries of punk music. Verlaine’s legacy will continue to inspire generations of musicians and fans alike.

Verlaine’s Solo Career and Legacy

After releasing one more album, “Adventure”, in 1978, Verlaine embarked on his solo career. He released his self-titled solo album in 1979, which included the song “Kingdom Come,” recorded a year later by David Bowie. As a solo artist, Verlaine remained prolific, moving from post-punk to instrumental EPs, silent film scores, and collaborations with former CBGB denizens like Patti Smith. Verlaine’s angular lyricism, pointed lyrical asides, sly wit, and ability to shake each string to its truest emotion have made him an influential figure in the punk and post-punk music.

Tom Verlaine was a pioneer of the punk movement and a visionary musician. He played an incongruous, soaring amalgamation of genres that included the noirish howl of the Velvet Underground, brainy art rock, and the double-helix guitar sculpture of Quicksilver Messenger Service. His guitar sound, which Patti Smith once described as “a thousand bluebirds screaming,” was unique and influential. Verlaine’s death is a loss to the music world, but his vision and imagination will live on through his music.

Tom Verlaine was one of the premier acts at legendary punk clubs like CBGB and Max’s Kansas City. He honed his craft with Television, and after releasing one more album, he embarked on a successful solo career. His solo work showcased his angular lyricism, pointed lyrical asides, sly wit, and ability to shake each string to its truest emotion. Verlaine’s death marks the end of an era, but his legacy will live on through his music and influence on punk and post-punk music.

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