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Patti Smith writes tribute essay about Television’s Tom Verlaine: "There was no one like Tom"

31 January 2023, 10:26 | Written by Cerys Kenneally

In a new piece for The New Yorker, Patti Smith reflects on the life and legacy of Television’s Tom Verlaine, revealing that there “was no one like Tom.”

Over the weekend it was revealed that Television’s Tom Verlaine had died aged 73. His death was announced by Patti Smith’s daughter Jesse Paris Smith, who said that he died “after a brief illness.”

Patti Smith first paid tribute to Verlaine - who she previously worked with and dated - on Instagram over the weekend, writing, “This is a time when all seemed possible. Farewell Tom, aloft the Omega.”

Yesterday (30 January) Smith penned a longer tribute essay for The New Yorker, where she wrote about how they first met, attending Television shows, and how he “possessed the child’s gift of transforming a drop of water into a poem that somehow begat music.”

After revealing that Verlaine only lived 28 minutes away from where Smith was raised, she wrote, “We might have met, two black sheep, on some rural stretch, each carrying books of the poetry of French Symbolists—but we didn’t. Not until 1973, on East Tenth Street, across from St. Mark’s Church, where he stopped me and said, “You’re Smith.” He had long hair, and we clocked each other, both echoing the future, both wearing clothes they didn’t wear anymore. I noticed the way his long arms hung, and his equally long and beautiful hands, and then we went our separate ways. That was, until Easter night, April 14, 1974. Lenny Kaye and I took a rare taxi ride from the Ziegfeld Theatre after seeing the première of “Ladies and Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones,” straight down to the Bowery to see a new band called Television.”

Later, she wrote, “There was no one like Tom. He possessed the child’s gift of transforming a drop of water into a poem that somehow begat music. In his last days, he had the selfless support of devoted friends. Having no children, he welcomed the love he received from my daughter, Jesse, and my son, Jackson.”

She concluded, “In his final hours, watching him sleep, I travelled backward in time. We were in the apartment, and he cut my hair, and some pieces stuck out this way and that, so he called me Winghead. In the years to follow, simply Wing. Even when we got older, always Wing. And he, the boy who never grew up, aloft the Omega, a golden filament in the vibrant violet light.”

Read Patti Smith’s full tribute to Tom Verlaine at

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