Tom Verlaine of the NY band Television died last week at the age of 73. I had not seen Tom for many years but remember well when I organized the band’s May 1977 tour of the UK. It was my idea to add Blondie as the opening act even though no one in the UK knew who the band was. I figured Debbie would get press as most beautiful girls do. I was right. Tom was not keen on the idea as I remember. Too pop I think was the sentiment. I saw various testimonials of the band but the reality was that they were very successful in the UK where the Marquee Moon album was hailed as one of the greats of all time Sounds Magazine named it Album of the Year – but never really got going in the USA. Electra Records did not know what they had and apparently did not care about the success in the UK. Meanwhile, I was surprised that Television did not come back to the UK to follow up on the first tour and its success. Thinking about it, I realize that in some ways the Television/Blondie tour helped me start to rebuild my own credibility in the music business. I had really blown it with the disaster of my Startruckin 75 tour and was written of by most of the music business as a looser. The one guy who would take my phone call was John Curd, the promoter who called himself Straight Music. John was a street guy and must have figured you never know in this business. Anyway John was the guy I called to promote the tour. I did not forget that either and I called him again when I managed the POLICE. The other person in the mix, someone who will probably never get the recognition she deserves was Jane Friedman. She was publicist for Patti Smith, John Cale’s girlfriend, manager of Television. She is the one who pushed me over the edge to take the whole punk thing seriously. She did the same for my brother Ian encouraging him to launch his own booking agency for the new punk movement, FBI (Fronter Booking Intl.) Anyway, it was through Jane that I got involved with Television and organized the UK tour. Tom was a real musical spark who should have had more public recognition then he ever got. He was more influential than well known. And that Marquee Moon is still one of the great albums of all time.
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