Tom Verlaine

Born Thomas Miller on December 13, 1949, in Denville, New Jersey, the singer, songwriter, and guitarist was better known by his stage name Tom Verlaine, leader of pioneering punk / new wave band Television. Growing up in Wilmington, Delaware, he began learning the piano and the saxophone as a teenager. Fascinated by avant-garde jazz, he began learning the guitar, and developed a style of his own made up of inverted harmonic developments. Also interested in poetry, he took the last name of French poet Paul Verlaine as his stage name. In 1972, he formed the Neon Boys with bassist Richard Hell and drummer Billy Ficca, although the group only lasted a few months before adding guitarist Richard Lloyd and changing their name to Television. The quartet became a popular thanks to their live performances and were eventually signed to Elektra Records. Television released their iconic debut album, Marquee Moon, in 1977 and followed it with Adventure the following year. However, Television broke up and Tom Verlaine pursued a solo career. He released his self-titled debut album in 1979, which featured the song “Kingdom Come,” later covered by David Bowie on his 1980 album Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps). Tom Verlaine released the album Dreamtime in 1981 and followed it with Words From the Front (1982), Cover (1984), Flash Light (1987), The Wonder (1990) and the instrumental Warm and Cool (1992). His albums featured musical assistance from his talented friends including Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith, Jay Dee Daugherty, Jimmy Rip, Bill Laswell and Lene Lovich. In 1992, the music world was surprised when Television reunited and released their self-titled album, which proved to be the group’s final studio outing. Although they never recorded another studio album, Television would continue to reunite and tour on occasion. In 1994, Tom Verlaine composed the soundtrack to the motion picture Love and a .45 (1999) and collaborated with a variety of artists including Luna and Patti Smith. He released the album Songs and Other Things and Around in 2006. He formed the supergroup The Million Dollar Bashers with Nels Cline, Tony Garnier, John Medeski, Smokey Hormel and Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo and Steve Shelley and recorded a song for the film I’m Not There (2007). After a short illness, Tom Verlaine died on January 28, 2023, at the age of 73.

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