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Elektra/Asylum is of course famously associated with the earth-toned California sound of the ‘70s. Meanwhile, on the New York City underground, something both weird and wonderful was happening. Led by guitarists Tom Verlaine (née Thomas Miller) and Richard Lloyd, Television formed in 1973 from the ashes of the legendary Neon Boys, which featured Verlaine, drummer Billy Ficca, and a gifted poet/bassist by the name of Richard Hell. With Lloyd as second guitarist, Television persuaded CBGB’s owner Hilly Kristal to give the fledgling band a gig at his recently opened Bowery bar, making them the first rock band to officially play at the soon-to-be-celebrated venue.
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A demo recorded with producer Brian Eno failed to get the band signed and by 1975, friction between Verlaine and Hell saw the latter leaving Television to co-found The Heartbreakers with Johnny Thunders and later, his own hugely significant Richard Hell & The Voidoids. Now counting original Blondie bassist Fred Smith among their ranks, Television began turning heads with their geometric dual guitar interplay, psych-garage energy, and Verlaine’s cryptic lyricism. The band soon signed to Elektra, whose long history of releasing brave new artists continued with 1977’s milestone debut, Marquee Moon. Epic and eloquent, the album remains an all-time masterwork of forward-thinking rock‘n’roll. Television’s sophomore effort, entitled Adventure, followed in 1978, bearing a more textured sound than its esteemed predecessor. Television broke up shortly after their second album’s release, with Lloyd and Verlaine each opting to pursue their own singular creative visions. In Verlaine’s case, that included a brilliant self-titled solo debut, released on Elektra in 1979. By the 1990s, Television was appreciated as both pre-punk pioneers and one of rock’s all-time most important bands. As such, they reunited in 1992 for an eponymous third album and then continued performing live on a semi-regular basis. In 2007, Lloyd was forced to leave Television following an extended hospital stay that prevented him from performing at the band’s sold-out concert in New York’s Central Park. Though Lloyd was replaced on that evening by guitarist Jimmy Ripp, the gig now officially stands as Television’s last.

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