Tom Verlaine
Tom Verlaine | Image: Gus Stewart/Redferns

Tom Verlaine, Guitarist And Vocalist Of Television, Dies At 73

Tom Verlaine, the co-founder, guitarist and vocalist of influential New York City rock band Television, has died at the age of 73. Verlaine’s passing was confirmed to The New York Times by Jesse Paris Smith (the daughter of Patti Smith), who noted he died following “a brief illness”.

Verlaine was born Thomas Miller in Denville, New Jersey in 1949 and raised in Wilmington, Delaware. He got his stage name from French poet Paul Verlaine.

Television – ‘Marquee Moon’

Verlaine developed a fondness for rock music after hearing The Rolling Stones’ ’19th Nervous Breakdown’ at a young age. He befriended future bandmate, Richard Meyers (later known as Richard Hell), while attending the private boarding school, the Sanford School, and the pair moved to New York City in the early ’70s.

Their first band, The Neon Boys, lasted only a short time before splitting and subsequently reforming as Television in 1973. Hell left the band in 1975, but Television continued to perform frequently in downtown Manhattan, gaining a cult following at venues such as CBGB’s.

They released their acclaimed debut album, Marquee Moon, in 1977, which revolved around Verlaine’s erudite songwriting and the sparring guitars of Verlaine and Richard Lloyd. A second album, Adventure, followed in 1978, but Television split up in 1979, after which Verlaine embarked on a solo career.

He released a number of solo albums over the next decade, while also working with the likes of Patti Smith, David Bowie, Jeff Buckley and James Iha of the Smashing Pumpkins.

Verlaine co-founded the NYC supergroup the Million Dollar Bashers in the 2000s, alongside Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo and Steve Shelley, Wilco’s Nels Cline and Bob Dylan bassist Tony Garnier. The band featured prominently on the soundtrack to Todd Haynes’ 2007 Bob Dylan film I’m Not There.

Television reunited in 1991 and released a self-titled album the following year, before again splitting in 1993. They reformed again in 2001 and continued to tour sporadically until 2019.

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