Tom Verlaine, guitarist and vocalist of punk rock band Television, dies at 73
By Michelle Watson and Zoe Sottile, CNN
Tom Verlaine, founding member of seminal New York punk band Television, died Saturday at age 73 “after a brief illness,” according to a news release from Jesse Paris Smith, the daughter of Verlaine’s former partner Patti Smith.
Verlaine died “peacefully” in New York City, “surrounded by close friends,” according to the release. The guitarist, raised in Wilmington, Delaware, was “noted for his angular lyricism and pointed lyrical asides, a sly wit, and an ability to shake each string to its truest emotion,” the release added.
In a comment emailed to CNN on Sunday, Smith told CNN she met Verlaine not long after her own father had passed away.
“In him, I felt the energy of a father – a man to hug, to laugh with, to share in mischievous jokes and wild imagination,” Smith said. “He was the perfect friend and support for me as a little girl.”
“I think every person who was lucky enough to be close to Tom had their own version of this experience – whether through friendship or work, with Tom you had your own shared language, understanding, and universe, something so precious and rare, a one of a kind relationship with a true rarity of a soul,” she added.
His Television bandmate, Jimmy Rip, called Verlaine “blindingly smart, incredibly well-read as well as surreally silly.”
In a tribute on her verified Instagram, Smith said she’d love the late musician “forever.”
“There has never been another like you and there never will be,” she wrote.
Smith’s mother, the legendary musician writer Patti Smith, also posted her own tributes to her former partner on Instagram. The two were a couple in the 1970s and remained lifelong friends. She posted a picture of herself with Verlaine as well another of a vase of flowers with the caption, “This is morning thinking about Tom. Grief is not an affliction, but a privilege.”
Blondie’s Debbie Harry and Billy Idol similarly honored the guitarist and songwriter on social media. “He made incredible music that greatly influenced the US & UK punk rock scene in the ’70’s,” wrote Idol.
Television emerged from New York’s 70s punk scene and was a mainstay at the legendary CBGB club, alongside the likes of Talking Heads and Blondie. Their album “Marquee Moon” is considered a classic from that era.
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CNN’s Rebekah Riess contributed to this report.