Television were one of the most innovative bands to emerge from New York’s underground scene of the mid-70s, creating an influential new guitar vocabulary.
In the early ’70s, Television began as the Neon Boys, a group featuring guitarist and vocalist Tom Verlaine, drummer Billy Ficca, and bassist Richard Hell. At the end of 1973, in New York City, they became Television, adding guitarist Richard Lloyd, and soon found a bar on the Bowery where they were featured on Sunday nights for several months to a tiny audience of mostly Hell’s Angels and a few afficionados. The club would become an important venue for new bands. In 1974, Verlaine played guitar on Patti Smith’s first single, Hey Joe, as well as writing a book of poetry with the singer.
Televison recorded seven songs for Island Records with Brian Eno in 1975, but the band were unhappy with the sound so it was not released. Hell left the band, and was replaced by ex-Blondie bassist Fred Smith. Television then recorded Little Johnny Jewel, releasing it on their own Ork record label. The record drew good international press, and attracted the attention of major record labels. They signed in 1976 with Elektra Records and began recording their debut album.
‘Marquee Moon’, the group’s first album, was released in early 1977 to critical acclaim, and while failing to attract a wide audience at home it did well in the UK. In May of ‘77 Television supported by Blondie did their first tour of the UK selling out much to their own surprise.
There’s been much water under the bridge since then and the band split but reformed in late 1991, recording a new album for Capitol Records. The reunited band began its comeback with a performance at Glastonbury in 1992, releasing Television a couple of months later. The album received good reviews, as did the tour that followed. In 2007 Lloyd left the band and they were joined by Jimmy Rip who had played with Tom since 1981 on all his tours and recordings.
This new line-up has since performed in the USA, throughout Europe including the UK and Eire, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand and China. They have recorded a new album which is said to be ‘half-finished’.
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