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Tom Verlaine, Founding Member of Rock Band Television, Dies at Age 73

Band’s album ‘Marquee Moon’ is widely considered one of the best records of the 1970s

Tom Verlaine, an innovative guitarist and founding member of the rock band Television, one of the most influential acts of New York’s CBGB punk scene in the late 1970s, has died at the age of 73.

Mr. Verlaine died in New York City after a brief illness, according to a spokeswoman, Cara Hutchison. No cause was specified. Mr. Verlaine’s last studio album, as a solo artist, came out in 2006.

An era-shaping guitarist with an experimental, adventurous flair and a spiky, angular sound, Mr. Verlaine was best known for his work as the frontman of the short-lived Television, which broke up after two albums that met with meager commercial success.

The band’s 1977 album “Marquee Moon” is widely considered one of the best records of the 1970s. Mr. Verlaine, who became a solo singer-songwriter after Television, also collaborated with musicians including David Bowie and Patti Smith.

Led by Mr. Verlaine on vocals, Television helped define the guitar sound of the punk era by embracing a rawer style of improvisation that departed from traditional blues. Despite its modest sales, Television laid a sonic foundation for decades of punk, alternative and post-punk bands.

Born Thomas Miller in 1949 and raised in Wilmington, Del., Mr. Verlaine had training as a classical pianist. He moved to New York City’s Lower East Side in 1968, influenced by jazz artists such as John Coltrane and rock bands such as the Rolling Stones. Television took shape over the course of the 1970s, becoming a creative force in New York’s punk underground along with Ms. Smith (Mr. Verlaine appears on her 1975 album “Horses”), Talking Heads, the Ramones and Blondie. Television, whose intricate songwriting and lyrical guitar lines set it apart on the scene, signed with Elektra Records and released two albums, before disbanding.

Mr. Verlaine continued as a solo artist in the late 1970s and 1980s, impressing the British press in particular and releasing albums including the well-received 1981 record “Dreamtime” and 1984’s “Cover.” Television briefly re-formed and toured, producing a self-titled album in 1992. In recent decades, Mr. Verlaine collaborated often with Ms. Smith and made more solo albums, including instrumental records.

On Saturday, musical figures including Debbie Harry, Steve Albini and the Bangles’ Susanna Hoffs honored Mr. Verlaine’s legacy on social media. Ms. Harry posted a photograph of Mr. Verlaine with a red heart. Stuart Braithwaite of the experimental post-rock band Mogwai said he was devastated.

“His role in our culture and straight up awesomeness on the electric guitar was completely legendary,” Mr. Braithwaite wrote on Twitter. “Name 10 minutes of music as good as Marquee Moon. You can’t. It’s perfect. Rest in peace Tom.”