Tom Verlaine, Television Frontman and Punk Godfather, Dead at 73 'Following a Brief Illness'
Tom Verlaine, the Television founding member and frontman, has died. He was 73.
The New York Times reported that the pioneering fixture of the 1970s New York City punk scene died Saturday in Manhattan "following a brief illness," according to Jesse Paris Smith, daughter of Verlaine's ex and frequent collaborator Patti Smith.
Many paid tribute to Verlaine on social media, following the news of his death. Smith, 76, shared an old black-and-white photo of the two of them on Instagram. "This is a time when all seemed possible. Farewell Tom, aloft the Omega," she wrote in the caption.
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Fellow punk icon Billy Idol penned in a tribute: "Sad 2 hear of @TELE_VISION_TV #tomverlaine passing today. He made incredible music that greatly influenced the US & UK punk rock scene in the '70's RIP."
The Bangles founding member Susanna Hoffs wrote: "Peace and love, Tom Verlaine."
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Blondie guitarist Chris Stein reminisced about his first time meeting the late singer, songwriter and fellow guitarist. "I met Tom Verlaine when he just arrived in NYC I guess '72," he started.
"No. Not Tom Verlaine," wrote '90s band Garbage.
"Aww man… rest well, Tom Verlaine," wrote Elijah Wood on Twitter.
"He had long hair and came to my apartment with an acoustic guitar and played some songs he'd written," Stein, 73 continued. "Both Tom and Richard Hell have told me that I auditioned for the Neon Boys, but I don't remember."
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Born Thomas Miller on Dec. 13, 1949 in Denville, New Jersey, Verlaine took up piano and saxophone at an early age, before discovering his joy for guitar upon hearing the Rolling Stones' 1966 track "19th Nervous Breakdown," according to Far Out Magazine.
Sad 2 hear of @TELE_VISION_TV #tomverlaine passing today. He made incredible music that greatly influenced the US & UK punk rock scene in the ‘70’s RIP pic.twitter.com/hbntmsLqMm
— Billy Idol (@BillyIdol) January 28, 2023
After meeting Richard Hell (né Meyers) at Sanford School, a boarding school in Delaware, the pair moved to New York City, where they took on their stage names (Verlaine's being inspired by French poet Paul Verlaine) and formed the proto-punk trio Neon Boys with drummer Billy Ficca.
The group quickly disbanded before reforming months later as Television and adding guitarist Richard Lloyd. They became big in the punk scene with performances at CBGB and Max's Kansas City, before Verlaine kicked Hell out of the band in 1975 and replaced him with Fred Smith.
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Television recorded two albums, Marquee Moon (1977) and Adventure (1978), which were critical successes but commercial flops, before breaking up in July 1978.
Before reforming the band on several occasions and releasing their third self-titled album in 1992, Verlaine enjoyed a solo career in England, where he had a loyal following. Over the years, he collaborated with several big names in rock music.