Tom Verlaine, who helped start the punk rock band Television and played guitar for them, has died. He was 73. After a short illness, the musician died in New York City with his friends by his side.
“He was noted for his angular lyricism and pointed lyrical asides, a sly wit, and an ability to shake each string to its truest emotion”
– said his publicist.
“His vision and his imagination will be missed.”
Tom took the name “Verlaine” to honor the French symbolist poet Paul Verlaine. He was born Thomas Miller in New Jersey. Verlaine and his friend and classmate Richard Hell dropped out of high school and started the proto-punk band Neon Boys in the early 1970s. The band broke up in 1973. After a few months, the group got back together under the name Television.
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Even though the rocker didn’t have much commercial success, his guitar playing was important to the rock community and helped inspire other musicians, as the many tributes to the rocker show. Susanna Hoffs, one of the founders of The Bangles, wrote, “Peace and love, Tom Verlaine,” and added a broken-hearted emoji.
“I’ve lost a hero”
– R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe wrote on Twitter.
Tom Verlaine 1949-2023
“I’ve lost a hero…. You introduced me to a world that flipped my life upside down. I am forever grateful.” – Michael Stipe pic.twitter.com/csmxXhKPht
— R.E.M. HQ (@remhq) January 29, 2023
“You introduced me to a world that flipped my life upside down. I am forever grateful.”
Billy Idol also shared his appreciation for Verlaine, writing on Twitter –
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
Verlaine and Television were at the top of their game when they played at CBGB in New York City with Patti Smith, The Ramones, and a lot of other rock stars.
Smith shared a black-and-white photo of the duo to her Instagram writing –
“This is a time when all seemed possible. Farewell Tom, aloft the Omega.”
Television broke up in 1978. Their first album, “Marquee Moon,” is what most people know them for. Hell had already left the group in 1975 when Verlaine kicked him out. In 1992, the band got back together. A few times over the years, they have played in other countries.