The music world reacts to the death of Television's Tom Verlaine: "You introduced me to a world that flipped my life upside down. I am forever grateful"

Tom Verlaine, onstage in London, 1978
(Image credit: Gus Stewart/Redferns)

Friends, peers and famous fans are paying their respects to late Television frontman Tom Verlaine, who died on Saturday (January 28), in New York, aged 73.

Television were one of the most acclaimed and influential bands from the New York punk scene of the 1970s, and the esteem in which Verlaine was held is evident in the outpouring of tributes to the man and his music.

"I've lost a hero," says former R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe. "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."

Steve Albini, frontman of Shellac and Nirvana/Pixies/PJ Harvey/Page & Plant producer tweeted, "Beautifully lyrical guitarist, underrated vocalist. Television made a new kind of music and inspired new kinds of music. Marquee Moon is a perfect record. Requiescat."

Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea posted: "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 effected the way John and I play immeasurably. Fly on Tom."

Alice In Chains frontman William DuVall wrote, "RIP to the great Tom Verlaine, one of my primary influences along w/ Hendrix, Eddie Hazel, & Greg Ginn. The live version of “Little Johnny Jewel” from “The Blow-Up” ROIR cassette by Television is THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH. Monumental guitar playing."

Echo and the Bunnymen guitarist Will Sergeant paid his respects, writing, "Tom Verlaine’s playing meant the world to me. If I ever played anything that sounded like him I was happy. He set me on my path as a guitarist, thank you Tom."

Billy Idol tweeted, "Sad 2 hear of Television's tomverlaine passing today. He made incredible music that greatly influenced the US & UK punk rock scene in the ‘70’s RIP"

Fellow New York guitarist Vernon Reid from Living Colour posted, "More 2023 fretted heartbreak. One of the GREAT Punk lead stylists. Tom Verlaine was a True Downtown HERO. Saddened & bummed to hear it."

He later singled out Television's Little Johnny Jewel for praise, writing "Tom Verlaine was a guitarist of bravado, nuance, weirdness & formality. I’ve heard hints of the influence of both Fripp & Howe in bits of his playing, running counter to Punk orthodoxy. In a way? The MOST Punk"

Simon Raymonde from Cocteau Twins, now the owner of Bella Union records, tweets, "A true original. No one played guitar like Tom Verlaine before or since. Sat crossed legged on the floor on his side of the stage in Roskilde as he played in Patti Smith’s band and that was as close to perfection as you can get. A sad sad day. Rest in Peace Tom."

Glasgow band The Delgados posted the sleeve of Marquee Moon and wrote, "RIP Tom Verlaine. An icon. An inspiration. A fucking incredible guitarist. We're going to be blasting this brilliance long into the night."

Drive-By Truckers tweeted, "Never got to see him (Damnit!). I will say that our band has extremely diverse taste and only a few artists are 100% unanimous amongst us (especially when you include our former members), but Television is definitely among them. RIP Tom Verlaine. And Thanks!"

Garbage posted a 'broken heart' and wrote "No. Not Tom Verlaine."

The Bangles' Susanna Hoffs posted the same emoji, alongside the words "Peace and love, Tom Verlaine."

Simply Red's Mick Hucknall also paid tribute, posting "RIP Tom Verlaine. Along with Patti Smith’s Horses, Marquee Moon ranks as one of if not THE best New Wave album of the 70’s punk era. I bought it when it came out and saw them on their first tour with Blondie opening! It was a great gig. I still play the album to this day"

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.