Patti Smith, Blondie’s Chris Stein, Michael Stipe Pay Tribute to Tom Verlaine: ‘I Have Lost a Hero’
Patti Smith, Michael Stipe, Chris Stein, and many more artists have paid tribute to Tom Verlaine, the influential singer and guitarist for punk legends Television, who died following a “brief illness” at the age of 73.
Smith — Verlaine’s former partner and regular collaborator — posted a photograph of them together on Instagram. “This is a time when all seemed possible,” she captioned the Instagram post. “Farewell Tom, aloft the Omega.”
“I have lost a hero,” Michael Stipe wrote, which was also shared via R.E.M.’s Instagram. “Bless you Tom Verlaine 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.”
Blondie’s Chris Stein — who shared a poster featuring Blondie opening for Television — also recalled the first time they met around 1972: “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 the Neon Boys but I don’t remember.”
Sleater-Kinney noted how the guitarist informed their playing and writing. “It was not only his 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,” the group wrote. “While Marquee Moon was seminal, Adventure burrowed deeper. I can’t think of a song that informed the entirety of our guitar playing on The Hot Rock than ‘Days.’ Thank you, Tom Verlaine, for guiding us. May you rest in peace. ‘Days, be more than all we have.’”
See more tributes below.