Tom Verlaine, whose band Television was one of the most influential to emerge from the New York punk rock scene centered on the CBGB nightclub – but whose exploratory guitar improvisations and poetic songwriting did not never been easily categorized as punk, or for that matter as any other genre – died Saturday in Manhattan. He was 73 years old.
His death was announced by Jesse Paris Smith, the daughter of Mr. Verlaine’s fellow musician, Patti Smith. She did not specify a cause, saying he died “after a brief illness”.
Although Television achieved only minor commercial success and broke up after recording two albums, Mr. Verlaine – who went on to record several solo albums and reunite periodically with the band – was a lasting influence, especially on his fellow guitarists.
“Tom Verlaine is the guitarist to mention these days if you’re a young rocker with a claim to intelligence and originality,” Robert Palmer of The New York Times wrote in 1987.
The layered, often ethereal sound that Mr. Verlaine and the other members of Television developed was a far cry from the stripped down approach of the Ramones and other leaders of the punk scene. But this scene – which also included bands as disparate as Blondie and Talking Heads – was never as one-dimensional as it has often been portrayed.
Mr. Verlaine, who was also the band’s lead singer and composed most of the songs, studied piano and saxophone as a child, and his music had roots in everything from John Coltrane’s free jazz to the tough ’19th ” from the Rolling Stones. Nervous breakdown.” His often impressionistic lyrics reflect the influence of poets like Paul Verlaine, from whom the man born Thomas Miller takes his stage name.
A full obituary will follow.