Musicians are mourning the loss of Television frontman Tom Verlaine, who has died following a brief illness.
Artists like Patti Smith, Michael Stipe, Red Hot Chili Peppers‘ Flea, Blondie‘s Chris Stein and many others took to social media to honor the innovative guitarist, who died peacefully in New York City, a Television representative confirmed to Billboard on (Saturday) Jan. 28. He was 73.
“This is a time when all seemed possible. Farewell Tom, aloft the Omega,” Smith, Verlaine’s former partner and collaborator, captioned a black-and-white photo on Instagram.
Stipe also shared a heartfelt remembrance through R.E.M.’s official Instagram account.
“I have lost a hero. Bless you Tom Verlaine for the songs, the lyrics, the voice!” Stipe wrote. “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.”
Blondie co-founder and guitarist Stein tweeted a vintage concert poster featuring Television and Blondie on the same bill, and he recalled first meeting Verlaine in 1972.
“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,” Stein wrote. “Both Tom and Richard Hell have told me that I auditioned for the Neon Boys but I don’t remember.”
Flea also took to social media to share his memories of Television’s groundbreaking debut 1977 debut album, Marquee Moon.
“Listened to Marquee Moon 1000 times. And I mean LISTENED, sitting still, lights down low taking it all in,” the RHCP bassist tweeted. “Awe and wonder every time. Will listen 1000 more. Tom Verlaine is one of the greatest rock musicians ever. He effected the way John and I play immeasurably. Fly on Tom.”
Verlaine formed Television, which became an influential fixture of NYC’s punk rock scene at CBGB in the ’70s, establishing an early residency at the legendary Lower East Side club with bandmates Richard Hell, Billy Ficca and Richard Lloyd. With Television he brought his signature guitar work and songwriting to two albums, 1977’s landmark Marquee Moon and 1978’s Adventure, before the group parted ways in 1978.
See the tributes to Verlaine below.