Tom Verlaine, whose Television band was one of the more influential groups on the New York Punk scene in the 1980s, died today at 73 in Manhattan.
Jesse Paris Smith, the daughter of Patti Smith, announced the death, attributing it to “after a brief illness” in her statement. .
Television was not a huge commercial success, but Verlaine was a vast influence on guitarists of the era, and continued on as a solo artist after the group broke up after two albums.
Verlaine was the band’s lead singer and did most of the songwriting. His deep lyrics and the group’s somewhat ethereal sound made them a favorite of those who wanted some art with their rock. The former Thomas Miller adopted the name of poet Paul Verlaine as an added touch.
Signed to Elektra Records, Television’s first major label album, Marquee Moon, arrived in 1977. Increasing tensions between Verlaine and cofounder Richard Hell saw Television call it quits after its second album, Adventure, in 1978. They came back together for a 1992 album for Capitol Records and occasional live gigs after that.
Verlaine’s solo career saw him release eight solo albums from 1979 to 1992. He then went silent for 14 years, returning in 2006 with Songs and Other Things and the instrumental set Around, both released simultaneously on the Chicago independent label Thrill Jockey.
He also spent time supporting Patti Smith on her albums Gone Again, Gung Ho, Twelve, and Banga.
No information on survivors or memorial plans have been announced.