A ’70s American punk rock musician died Saturday at 73 after a brief illness, according to a New York Times report.
Tom Verlaine’s death in Manhattan was announced by the daughter of musician Patti Smith, who has been romantically linked to Verlaine since the early ’70s. Jesse Paris Smith said in her death announcement that Verlaine died “after a brief illness” without specifying a cause of death.
Verlaine formed the newly named band “Television” with high school friend Richard Hell in the ’70s after their earlier attempt at becoming a successful band fizzled in 1973, according to a Fox News report.
Television was one of the most influential bands on the New York punk rock scene headlining at the nightclub CBGB. Verlaine’s music was labeled punk, but his guitar improvisations and poetic songwriting were not a neat fit for the punk genre.
Patti Smith was in the audience for one of Television’s early 1974 performances at CBGB, according to an Opoyi report. Television split billing with her Patti Smith Group when her band made their CBGB debut in 1975.
Smith reportedly once compared Verlaine’s guitar sound to “a thousand bluebirds screaming.” Although they were rumored to have had a brief relationship in the mid ’70s, Smith and Verlaine collaborated musically frequently, the report added.
Verlaine did not enjoy much commercial success from his music but obviously influenced many other musicians if the tributes to him are any measure of his impact.
“Peace and love, Tom Verlaine,” remarked Susanna Hoffs, a founding member of the band The Bangles.
“I’ve lost a hero,” said R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe in a Twitter post. “You introduced me to a world that flipped my life upside down. I am forever grateful.”
British musician Billy Idol also paid his respects to the Television founder.
“Sad 2 hear of @TELE_VISION_TV #tomverlaine passing today,” Idol stated on Twitter. “He made incredible music that greatly influenced the US & UK punk rock scene in the ‘70’s RIP.”
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