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Tom Verlaine, legendary American guitarist and founder of punk rock band Television dead at 73


Tom Verlaine is dead at 73. The famous American guitarist and songwriter rose to prominence in the 1970s as the founder of the punk rock band Television. Verlaine’s death was confirmed by Jesse Paris Smith – daughter of his peer, and former partner Patti Smith to The New York Times. Although no specific reason was cited, Jesse shared that the musician passed away after a ‘brief illness’.

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More about Tom Verlaine

Tom Verlaine was born Thomas Miller in Denville, New Jersey, on 13 December, 1949. As reported by The Guardian, Verlaine was inclined toward music from a pretty young age. He played the piano early on in his childhood but later switched to the saxophone after he heard a record by Stan Getz. Miller adopted the stage name Tom Verlaine as a tribute to the famous French symbolist poet Paul Verlaine. The musician started learning the guitar after listening to the 19th Nervous Breakdown by the Rolling Stones in 1966. He was one of the most skilled guitarists to have emerged from the now-defunct CBGB’s club New York’s Bowery,  with contemporaries like Blondie, The Ramones, and Talking Heads.

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More about Tom Verlaine’s New York City band Television

Founded in 1973, Television consisted of Tom Verlaine on guitar and vocals, with Richard Hell on bass and vocals, Billy Ficca on drums, and Richard Llyod as a second guitarist. In 1975, Fred Smith joined on bass after the departure of Hell. During their musical high point, Television chalked up three UK Top 40 hit singles. Some of their most acclaimed albums include the likes of Marquee Moon (1977) – which was acknowledged by critics as one of the most original debuts in years. Their second album was called Adventure (1978), after which the band broke up and Verlaine and Llyod focused on their solo careers. In 2002, they reunited for a self-titled third album.

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Remembering Tom Verlaine, Mike Scott of The Waterboys wrote on his Twitter handle, “Tom Verlaine has passed over to the beyond that his guitar playing always hinted at. He was the best rock and roll guitarist of all time, and like Hendrix could dance from the spheres of the cosmos to garage rock. That takes a special greatness.” Adding further, he wrote, “Tom Verlaine … first heard on Patti Smith’s Hey Joe and Break It Up, and Television’s Little Johnny Jewel, the most incredible, otherworldly guitar playing. Jazzblown, fantastic, inspired. Never surpassed, never equalled except by himself.”

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