Legendary Television frontman Tom Verlaine has died


“You introduced me to a world that flipped my life upside down,” says Michael Stipe who is one of the many admirers paying tribute

The sad rock ‘n’ roll news shows no signs of abating with Television’s Tom Verlaine passing away on Sunday aged just 73.

Born Thomas Miller in New Jersey but renaming himself in honour of French symbolist poet Paul Verlaine, Tom was one of the more musically literate members of the CBGBs gang who gave American rock ‘n’ roll a much-needed kick up the arse in the mid-70s with Patti Smith, The Ramones, Talking Heads and Blondie among Television’s contemporaries.

Their Marquee Moon debut was not only a call to arms for a new generation of guitar bands, but also reenergised the likes of David Bowie who later covered Verlaine’s solo track, ‘Kingdom Come’, on his Scary Monsters album.

More recently, Television’s DNA is woven deep into the likes of The Strokes, Sonic Youth, LCD Soundsystem, R.E.M., Radiohead, U2 – Edge is a massive Verlaine fan – and Mogwai whose Stuart Braithwaite observes of its title-track: “Name 10 minutes of music as good as ‘Marquee Moon’? You can’t. It’s perfect.”

Those sentiments are echoed by our man Pat Carty who opines of Marquee Moon the album: “Name a better side 1. I don’t know if you can. I bought this in the late 80s because The Edge kept mentioning it in interviews. I hadn’t heard any of it so I was taking a chance with whatever little money I had. The cover looked cool and when I put it on the turntable, it took my teenaged head off. Good man Tom Verlaine.”

Hot Press remembers the roar its choppy intro riff elicited in April 2001 when Television played a beyond sensational gig in Dublin’s Vicar St. Peter Murphy wrote this atmospheric account: https://www.hotpress.com/music/once-in-a-marquee-moon-523987

Five years after that, Marquee Moon placed at no. 66 in our Greatest Albums Ever list.

Markedly more successful sales-wise in Europe than they were at home, Television released a second album, Adventure, before splitting and then reforming in 1992 and issuing a self-titled record, which confirmed that the old magic was still there in spades.

“Listened to Marquee Moon 1,000 times,” says Flea from the Chilli Peppers. “And I mean LISTENED, sitting still, lights down low taking it all in. Awe and wonder every time. Will listen 1,000 more. Tom Verlaine is one of the greatest rock musicians ever. He effected the way John and I play immeasurably. Fly on Tom.”

The word from Michael Stipe is: “I’ve lost a hero. You introduced me to a world that flipped my life upside down. I am forever grateful.”

“I’ve spent so many hours from the 1970’s to the present day listening to, marvelling at and learning from this album – ecstatic amazing and life changing music,” adds Lightning Seeds leader Ian Broudie. “To me guitars have never sounded so beautiful again. Thank you Tom Verlaine.”

Here are some of the other heartfelt tributes that have been pouring in from the likes of Cait O’Riordan, Tim Burgess, Robert Forster, Dave Fanning, Billy Idol, Chris Stein and Waterboy Mike Scott.

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