Tom Verlaine, Television frontman and guitarist, dies aged 73

Tom Verlaine of Television
Tom Verlaine on stage at the Hammersmith Odeon, London in 1977 (Image credit: Darren Eagles / Getty)

Tom Verlaine, guitarist and frontman of hugely influential New York punk band Television has died aged 73. 

The news was confirmed by Patti Smith's daughter Jesse Paris Smith, who revealed that Verlaine died "after a brief illness".

Speaking to Rolling Stone, Smith said, "He died peacefully in New York City, surrounded by close friends. His vision and his imagination will be missed."

Verlaine formed Television with school friend Richard Hell in 1973, and though they rose to prominence alongside the punk movement, their music was always more nuanced than most of their peers' output, including such resolutely non-punk elements as intricate solos and audible jazz influences. 

They remain best known for their 1977 debut album Marquee Moon, a hugely influential release, pointing the way for new-wave and post-punk movements.

The band would release only one more album, Adventure, before splitting in 1977, though a third, self-titled, LP was the result of their reformation in 1992.

In between, Verlaine enjoyed a productive solo career, releasing 10 albums between 1979's Tom Verlaine and 2006's around.

Tom Verlaine of Television

Tom Verlaine performing with Television in 2019 (Image credit: Gus Stewart / Getty)

As the news broke, many of the great and good of the alternative music world paid tribute.

REM's Michael Stipe wrote "I've lost a hero. Bless you Tom Verlaine and thank you for the songs, the lyrics, the voice! And later the laughs, the inspiration, the stories, and the rigorous belief that music and art can alter and change matter, lives, experience. 

"You introduced me to a world that flipped my life upside down. I am forever grateful."

Alt-rock production giant and Garbage man Steve Albini tweeted, "Beautifully lyrical guitarist, underrated vocalist.

"Television made a new kind of music and inspired new kinds of music. Marquee Moon is a perfect record. 


Flea, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist, posted: "Tom Verlaine, one of my all-time favorites. Interstellar guitarist, singer, composer, cool as hell, I’m gonna put on Marquee Moon right now and sit still, drink coffee and appreciate the fuk out of him. 

"Rest In Peace with the cosmos Tom, fly on."

Will Groves

I'm lucky enough to be MusicRadar's Editor-in-chief while being, by some considerable distance, the least proficient musician on the editorial team. An undeniably ropey but occasionally enthusiastic drummer, I've worked on the world's greatest music making website in one capacity or another since its launch in 2007. I hope you enjoy the site - we do.