Tom Verlaine was a singer, songwriter, and musician best known as the frontman for the New York-based 1970s punk band, Television.
Born Thomas Miller, Verlaine began his musical journey studying the saxophone and piano, in particular being draw to the work of jazz giant Miles Davis. As a teenager, he formed a musical partnership with friend and fellow musician Richard Hell. Together they would form the pioneering band Television. Hell would depart prior to the band’s debut release, Marquee Moon, leaving Verlaine and guitarist Richard Lloyd as the band’s primary creative forces. Verlaine brought freeform jazz and psychedelic influences into the then nascent punk genre. Their airy, winding, and often lengthy compositions were a stark contrast to peers such as The Ramones and Blondie. The band would record just two albums before breaking up in 1978. (They would periodically reform in later years.) Verlaine would go on to have a solo career that spanned ten albums and numerous collaborations.
Influence on Other Artists
Television drew influences from jazz, experimental bands like The Velvet Underground, and surf rock musicians like Dick Dale. In turn, Verlaine’s fearless approach to song structure and his exploratory approach to the guitar became an influence on bands that followed, including luminaries like R.E.M., U2, Sonic Youth, Matthew Sweet, and The Strokes. “His role in our culture and straight up awesomeness on the electric guitar was completely legendary. Name 10 minutes of music as good as Marquee Moon. You can’t. It’s perfect. Rest in peace Tom x.” — Stuart Braithwaite, Mogwai
Tributes to Tom Verlaine