Friday, October 30, 2009


Television is an American rock band, formed in New York City in 1973. Although Television have never had more than a cult audience in their American homeland, they have achieved significant commercial success in Europe. Today, they are widely regarded as one of the key founders of, and seminal influences on punk rock.

Television was a part of the early New York punk rock scene, contemporary with bands like the Patti Smith Group and the Ramones. In contrast to the Ramones' focus on rock 'n' roll minimalism, Television's music was much more technically proficient, defined by the dueling guitars of Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd.

Television's roots can be traced to the teenage friendship between Richard Hell and Tom Verlaine. The duo met at Sanford School in Hockessin, Delaware, from which they ran away. Later the two would move separately to New York in the early 1970s aspiring to be poets. Their first group together was the Neon Boys, consisting of Verlaine on guitar and vocals, Hell on bass and vocals, and Billy Ficca on drums. The group lasted from late 1972 to early 1973. A posthumous 7-inch record featuring "That's All I Know (Right Now)" and "Love Comes in Spurts" was released in 1980.

In late 1973 the trio reformed, calling themselves Television and soon recruiting Richard Lloyd as a second guitarist. They persuaded CBGB's owner Hilly Kristal to give the band a regular gig at his club which had just opened on the Bowery in New York. Television was the first rock group to perform at the club, which was to become, along with Max's Kansas City, the center of the burgeoning punk scene. The members of Television reportedly constructed the first stage at CBGB's, where they quickly established a significant cult following.

Initially, songwriting was split almost evenly between Hell and Verlaine. However, friction began to develop as Verlaine, Lloyd and Ficca became increasingly confident and adept with both instruments and composition, while Hell remained defiantly untrained in his approach. Verlaine, feeling that Hell's frantic onstage demeanor was upstaging his songs, reportedly told him to "stop jumping around" and ultimately refused to play Hell's songs (such as "Blank Generation") in concert. This led Hell to leave the group and take his songs with him, forming The Heartbreakers in 1975 with former members of the New York Dolls, and later forming Richard Hell and the Voidoids. Fred Smith, briefly of Blondie, replaced Hell as Television's bassist.

Television's first album Marquee Moon was received positively by music critics and audiences, despite failing to go near the Billboard Top 200 - though it sold well in Europe and reached the Top 30 in many countries there.

Television's second album, Adventure, was issued in 1978 to less fanfare. The distinctive dual guitars of Lloyd and Verlaine are still evident on Adventure, notably on the tracks "Glory," "Days," and "Foxhole." The band members' very independent and strongly held artistic visions, along with Richard Lloyd's alleged drug abuse, led to the band's break-up in 1978. Both Lloyd and Verlaine pursued solo careers.

Television reformed in 1992, recording an eponymous third album, and have performed live sporadically thereafter. Since being wooed back on stage together for the 2001 All Tomorrow's Parties at Camber Sands, England, they have played a number of dates around the world, and continue to perform occasionally in New York while touring on an irregular basis.

In 2007, Richard Lloyd announced he would be amicably leaving the band after a midsummer show in New York City's Central Park.[9] Owing to an extended stay in hospital recovering from pneumonia, he was unable to take his place with the band for this concert. His place that day was taken by Jimmy Ripp. Ripp has since been asked to stay on as a band member replacing Lloyd, and, as of December 2007, the group has been busy recording a new record.

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