punk rock

Tom Verlaine performs with Television at the Bottom Line in New York City on June 11, 1978.

Photo by Ebet Roberts

The fiery, incandescent, and visionary guitarist who died on January 28, 2023, helped spark a punk revolution—and then transcended the form entirely.

Musicians feel and experience influence in many ways. And to be certain, Tom Verlaine’s guitar playing—his deconstructed melodies, pointed attack, and capacity for flight—inspired many to attempt imitation. But for a lot of us, Verlaine’s guitar and voice, and the music he created with Television and as a solo artist, were much more than another set of musical tricks to nick. They symbolized liberation and freedom from musical constraints, the rush, promise, and exhilaration of bohemian city life, the world of poets, and the notion that outsider musical voices could find audience and reverence. In the end, Verlaine’s playing may have been impossible to duplicate. But the electricity in his expression suggested an enormity of potential to those looking for a ray of light in weird times.

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Even though he heard it years before picking up the guitar, Mark Knopfler's influence still creeps into this rocker's repertoire.

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