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Tom Verlaine, guitarist and founder of Punk TV, dies at 73

CBS News has learned that Tom Verlaine, guitarist and co-founder of the proto-punk band TV, has passed away at the age of 73 after a short illness.

Verlaine’s death was confirmed in a statement Saturday to CBS News from Jesse Paris Smith, daughter of musician Patti Smith, a frequent collaborator of Verlaine’s.

“He passed away peacefully in New York City, surrounded by close friends,” the statement read.

Kara Hutchison of Lede, a public relations firm, also confirmed Verlaine’s death to the Associated Press. The exact cause of death was not mentioned.

Verlaine has influenced many bands while playing at downtown New York music venue CBGB along with the Ramones, Patti Smith and the Talking Heads.

Tom Verlaine
Tom Verlaine performs with his televised band at the Phoenix Concert Theater on May 6, 2019, in Toronto, Canada.

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Tom Verlaine had gone way beyond what he always hinted at playing his guitar. He was the best rock and roll guitarist of all time, and like Hendrix he could dance from regions of the universe to garage rock. That takes special greatness. Mike Scott from The Waterboys chirp.

Although TV did not find much commercial success, Verlaine’s sporadically innovative playing as part of the band’s two-guitar attack influenced many musicians. Television released its groundbreaking debut album “Marquee Moon” in 1977—including the nearly 11-minute title track and “Elevation”—and the sequel to “Adventure” a year later.

“Marquee Moon has become the holy grail of indie rock in the years since,” Billboard magazine wrote in 2003. “He has been a definite influence on artists like Pavement, Sonic Youth, the Strokes, and Jeff Buckley.”

Growing tension between Verlaine and fellow guitarist Richard Lloyd led to TV breaking up after their second album, Adventure. The group would reunite for the 1992 Capitol Records self-titled album and sporadic live appearances.

Television co-founder Richard Hill writes in his autobiography, “We wanted to strip everything away from the theatricality of flashy bands’ theatrical performances, and away from blues and boogie.” “We wanted to be tough and tough and ripped, as the world was.”

Verlaine has released eight solo albums, the most commercially successful being his 1981 solo album “Dreamtime”, which peaked at No. 177 on the Billboard album chart. He frequently worked as an escort for his ex-girlfriend, Patti Smith.

Born Tom Miller—he took the last name of 19th-century French poet Paul Marie Verlaine after Hale, born Richard Myers, met him at prep school in Delaware. They were two tall, skinny, sarcastic kids who had dropped out and made their way to the East Village, where they worked in bookstores and wrote poetry together.

A statement from his publicist said, “He is known for his angular lyricism and pointed lyric sides, his sly wit, and his ability to rock every chord to his truest feelings.” “His vision and imagination will miss.”

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