Death at 73 of guitarist and singer Tom Verlaine, leader of the rock group Television


Tom Verlaine at Carnegie Hall in New York on February 13, 2008.

Tom Verlaine, guitarist, singer and co-founder of Television, a New York rock formation from the 1970s which influenced many groups, died on Saturday January 28 at the age of 73.

It was his daughter Jesse Paris Smith, born of his relationship with Patti Smith, another major figure on the music scene at the time, who made the announcement at the New York Timeswithout specifying the cause of death, except that it resulted from a “a short illness”.

“Tom Verlaine has passed into the beyond that his guitar playing always foreshadowed”, tweeted Mike Scott of the Waterboys. ” He was the greatest rock and roll guitarist of all time, and like Hendrix, he could twirl from the spheres of the cosmos to garage rock. It requires a particular greatness”adds the Scottish musician.

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Tribute to the French poet Paul Verlaine

Born Thomas Miller, the American decided to make himself known under the name of Tom Verlaine, in homage to Paul, the French poet whose lyricism he will try to breathe into his texts.

Although Television never had great commercial success, the inventive and aggressive playing of Tom Verlaine, who was part of these two-guitar groups, influenced many musicians, especially during his performances at the legendary concert hall CBGB. from central New York, alongside the Ramones, Patti Smith and the Talking Heads.

Television released their first album Marquee Moon in 1977 − including the eponymous track of almost 11 minutes, as well as Elevation.

“‘Marquee Moon’ has become something of a holy grail of indie rock in the years since.wrote Billboard magazine in 2003. He clearly influenced artists such as Pavement, Sonic Youth, The Strokes and Jeff Buckley. »

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Growing tensions between Tom Verlaine and fellow guitarist Richard Lloyd led Television to disband after his second album Adventurereleased a year later Marquee Moon. The group reformed for a self-titled album in 1992 and a few sporadic live appearances.


“We wanted to strip everything down, get away from the theatrics of glittery bands, blues and boogie”wrote Television co-founder Richard Hell in his autobiography I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp. “We wanted to be austere, hard and torn, like the world was”he explains.

Dark month of January for rock

Tom Verlaine then released a dozen solo albums, while collaborating with many artists, such as David Bowie and Patti Smith. The latter shared a farewell message on Instagram, posting a photo of them, accompanied by the sentence: “It was a time when everything seemed possible”

Many online tributes have also been paid, from Thurston Moore, ex-leader of Sonic Youth, to Stuart Braithwaite that of Mogwai, two groups who owe him a lot. Susanna Hoffs and Billy Idol have said that Verlaine’s music influenced the American and British punk scene. And The Edge says he was inspired by his guitar playing to shape the sound of U2.

The death of Tom Verlaine adds to the deadly character of the month of January for the rock world, after those of Jeff Beck and David Crosby recently.

Le Monde with AP and AFP

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