Rockers React to Tom Verlaine’s Death
The breadth of influence exerted by Television’s Tom Verlaine was illustrated by the volume of tributes from artists across rock genres following his death at the age of 73 on Jan. 28.
Real name Thomas Miller, the guitarist, singer and songwriter was hailed for his work after he passed due to ununspecified brief illness.
“I’ve lost a hero,” former R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe wrote. “Bless you Tom Verlaine and thank you for the songs, the lyrics, the voice! And later the laughs, the inspiration, the stories, and the rigorous belief that music and art can alter and change matter, lives, experience. You introduced me to a world that flipped my life upside down. I am forever grateful.”
Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea said: “[I] listened to Marquee Moon 1000 times. And I mean LISTENED, sitting still, lights down low taking it all in. awe and wonder every time. Will listen 1000 more. Tom Verlaine is one of the greatest rock musicians ever. He [a]ffected the way John and I play immeasurably. Fly on Tom.”
Verlaine’s former partner and frequent collaborator Patti Smith posted a picture of them together and wrote:
Blondie’s Chris Stein recalled: “I met Tom Verlaine when he just arrived in NYC I guess '72. He had long hair and came to my apartment with an acoustic guitar and played some songs he'd written. Both Tom and Richard Hell have told me that I auditioned for [pre-Television band] the Neon Boys but I don't remember.”
Sleater-Kinney reflected that it “was not only [Verlaine’s] serpentine style – jagged yet shimmering, capable of story-like melodies – but also how he played in conversation with his bandmate and fellow guitarist, Richard Lloyd. The intertwining of notes, completing each other’s sentences, toying with consonance and dissonance, beautifully colliding then breaking away; telling us so much without a single word. … Thank you, Tom Verlaine, for guiding us. May you rest in peace. ‘Days, be more than all we have.’”
Further tributes came from Billy Idol, Vernon Reid, Garbage, Steve Albini and others.