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The Rock Music Scene Mourns the Passing of Tom Verlaine—the Influential Guitarist who Fronted Punk Band Television—at Age 73

Cam Speck



The Rock Music Scene Mourns the Passing of Tom Verlaine—the Influential Guitarist who Fronted Punk Band Television—at Age 73

Verlaine’s exceptional songwriting and memorable guitar playing elevated Television to the vanguard of the burgeoning punk movement.

Tom Verlaine, the co-founder of the pioneering punk band Television and a celebrated cult solo artist, sadly passed away last Sunday at 73. Verlaine’s life and career were full of creative achievements and inspiring works, both as part of Television and as a solo artist.

Verlaine’s first foray into the music world began in school when he met Richard Meyers, who would later become famous by his stage name Richard Hell. The two ran away from school together and ended up in New York, where they formed the Neon Boys with drummer Billy Ficca. They soon renamed themselves Television after adding a second guitarist Richard Lloyd. Verlaine and Lloyd’s collaboration would become legendary amongst rock music fans; they were renowned for their tight riffs and perfect guitar harmonies. Television was one of the first bands to play regular appearances at the CBGB club in New York City, helping to establish it as an iconic venue for punk music in America.

In 1977, the band made its debut on the music scene with the release of Marquee Moon via Elektra Records, now regarded as one of the most influential records in punk/post-punk history. Its success was largely due to Verlaine’s songwriting and unique guitar style; his clear, undistorted sound was unlike anything else being played at that time. The album also features some psychedelic elements, which helped to make it stand out from other punk albums during this era. Marquee Moon is still hailed by critics today; Rolling Stone listed it 128th on their “Greatest Albums Of All Time” list back in 2003. A follow-up album, Adventure, also managed to receive critical acclaim but only managed limited commercial success despite its quality.

Tensions between members caused a split within Television in 1978. However, they reunited again in 1992 to release a self-titled album (with Verlaine remaining a member until his death); it wasn’t until much later that they started performing shows again regularly – demonstrating how strong the impact their initial breakup had been on them all personally and musically. During this period, Verlaine also collaborated extensively with another legend, Patti Smith – work which continued well into the 2000s despite any romantic ties between them having dissolved long before.

Verlaine went on to have an incredibly successful solo career with his first effort, Tom Verlaines, released in 1979 (which featured a cover by David Bowie). He also collaborated with numerous other artists over those decades, such as Roxy Music’s Phil Manzanera and Nils Lofgren from Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. Throughout his time as a solo artist, he refined his guitar style even further – developing an understanding of sound unmatched by many other musicians at that time or since – something which can be heard through many instrumentals found on records like Around (his final album).

Verlaine will no doubt remain entrenched in music history due to his influence on both Punk Rock & Post Punk music but also because of how he managed to stay true to himself throughout his entire career despite commercial pressures every single step along the way – something that has come easy for very few musicians ever since rock n’ roll burst onto our airwaves all those years ago.

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