Tom Verlaine, one of the pioneers of American punk rock and a prominent figure in the 1970s New York music scene, passed away on Saturday due to a short illness. He was 73 years old. The death was confirmed by NPR through a press release from Jesse Paris Smith, the daughter of Verlaine’s collaborator Patti Smith and a former partner of Verlaine.
“I met Tom when I was a child, not long after my dad passed away,” Jesse Paris Smith wrote in a statement to NPR. “In him, I felt the energy of a father, a man to hug, to laugh with, to share in mischievous jokes and wild imagination.”
Tom Verlaine is best known as the frontman and lead guitarist of the influential rock band Television. The band’s first two albums, “Marquee Moon” and “Adventure,” were highly praised by critics, but did not achieve high commercial success. These albums were considered as the foundation of alternative rock.
Tom Verlaine was known for his distinctive guitar playing style that featured heavy vibrato and distortion. He was also known for his off-kilter lyrics, such as the line “Life in the hive puckered up my night / A kiss of death, the embrace of life” from the chorus of the song “Marquee Moon.” He was considered as a guitar virtuoso and his style of playing has been influential on many other musicians.
Tom Verlaine was known for his jagged guitar playing style that involved heavy vibrato and distortion, as well as off-kilter lyrics. His style of playing was considered as a guitar virtuoso and his style of playing has been influential on many other musicians. His work with Television, particularly their first two albums, “Marquee Moon” and “Adventure,” were highly praised by critics and considered as the foundation of alternative rock. He will be remembered for his unique and innovative contributions to the music industry.
Tom Verlaine, born Thomas Miller, was from Denville, New Jersey and grew up in Wilmington, Delaware. He had an early interest in music and poetry. He moved to New York City in the late 1960s, and adopted the stage name Tom Verlaine in honor of the French 19th century Symbolist poet Paul Verlaine. Throughout his career, Verlaine developed a cult following but never quite achieved mainstream success and avoided fame. A 2006 New York Times article reported that when asked how his life should be portrayed in a biography, Verlaine replied, “Struggling not to have a professional career.” Tom Verlaine’s longtime engineer and collaborator Patrick Derivaz said in a statement to NPR that “playing, recording and simply being Tom’s friend for over 30 years and until the end has been a wonderful journey and a privilege.”
Tom Verlaine’s bandmate and guitarist of Television, Jimmy Rip, said in a statement to NPR, “Tom and I had an hysterically funny conversation that lasted the last 42 years. He was blindingly smart, incredibly well read as well as surreally silly! Standing 10 feet away on stage night after night year after year and STILL trying to figure how he did what he did was the great honor [and] pleasure of my life.” He praised Verlaine’s intelligence and wit, and also mentioned his amazement of Verlaine’s guitar skills even after playing alongside him for many years.