Tom Verlaine, guitarist and co-founder of the original protopunk band TV, who influenced many bands, died while playing at CBGB, a downtown New York venue along with the Ramones, Patti Smith, and the Talking Heads. He was 73 years old. Kara Hutchison of the public relations firm Lady said Verlaine died on Saturday in New York City surrounded by close friends after a short illness.
“Tom Verlaine has gone beyond what his guitar always hinted at. He was the greatest rock ‘n’ roll guitarist of all time, and like Hendrix, he could dance from cosmic ambience to garage rock. That takes special greatness,” tweeted Mike Scott of The waterboys.
Although it never enjoyed much commercial success on television, Verlaine’s inventive playing as part of the band’s two-guitar attack was influential to many musicians. Television released their groundbreaking debut album Marquee Moon in 1977—including the nearly eleven-minute title track and Elevation—and second album Adventure a year later.
“Marquee Moon has become something of the holy grail of indie rock ever since,” the magazine wrote, “Marquee Moon has been a clear influence on artists like Pavement, Sonic Youth, The Strokes, and Jeff Buckley.” painting in 2003.
Growing tension between Verlaine and fellow guitarist Richard Lloyd led to TV breaking up after their second album Adventures. The band reunited for an album in 1992 for Capitol Records and sporadic live appearances.
“We wanted to strip everything away from the theatrics of flashy bands, blues and dance shows,” TV co-founder Richard Hill wrote in his autobiography I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp. “We wanted to be tough and broken, as the world was.”
Verlaine has released eight solo albums, the most commercially successful being his second, 1981’s Dreamtime, which peaked at No. 177 on the Billboard album chart. He often acted as a sidekick to former teammate Patti Smith.
Online tributes included Susanna Hoffs and Billy Idol, who said Verlaine made music that influenced the punk scene in the US and UK. Smith shared a tribute on Instagram, posting a photo of the two of them together.
Born Tom Miller – he later adopted the surname of the 19th century French poet Paul Marie Verlaine after he met Hell, born Richard Myers, at prep school in Delaware. They were two tall, skinny kids who gave up and went to the East Village, where they worked in bookstores and wrote poetry together.
“He was known for his angular lyricism and pointed lyrics, witty wit and ability to pluck every chord with his truest feelings,” said a statement from his publicist. “Your vision and imagination will pass away.”
“Prone to fits of apathy. Problem solver. Twitter buff. Wannabe music advocate.”
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