By Andy Malt | Published on Monday 30 January 2023
Television guitarist and vocalist Tom Verlaine has died, aged 73. His death was announced by Jesse Paris Smith, daughter of Verlaine’s long-time friend and collaborator Patti Smith, who said that he had passed away “after a brief illness”.
Born Thomas Miller in 1949, he took the stage name Verlaine in reference to French poet Paul Verlaine. As a child he learned piano and then saxophone, primarily playing jazz. He was inspired to take up the guitar after hearing The Rolling Stones’ ‘Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown’ as a teenager.
In 1972, Verlaine and school friend Richard Meyers – who took the name Richard Hell – formed their first band, The Neon Boys. The following year they became Television and began regularly playing shows at the legendary New York venue CBGB. Tensions between Verlaine and Hell led to the latter leaving the group in 1975, with Verlaine becoming the band’s main songwriter.
The band released their debut album, ‘Marquee Moon’, in 1977. Critically acclaimed at the time, it sold moderated well, but has gone on to become widely revered and influential. Their second LP, ‘Adventure’, followed a year later, but the band split shortly after its release.
Verlaine released his eponymous debut solo album in 1979, the first of several released through the 80s and early 90s. He then reformed Television in 1992, with the band releasing a third album that year. He and the band continued to perform together sporadically up to the present day.