2 Seminal Musicians Are Gone From the World

Tom Verlaine, Barrett Strong have passed away
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 30, 2023 12:43 AM CST
Music World Mourns 2 Seminal Musicians
FILE - Motown's Barrett Strong arrives at the induction ceremony for 35th annual National Academy of Popular Music/Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York on June 10, 2004.   (AP Photos/Louis Lanzano, File)

The music world is mourning two influential musicians. Tom Verlaine, guitarist and co-founder of the proto-punk band Television who influenced many bands while playing at ultra-cool downtown New York music venue CBGB alongside the Ramones, Patti Smith, and Talking Heads, died Saturday at 73, the AP reports. And Barrett Strong, one of Motown’s founding artists and most gifted songwriters who sang lead on the company’s breakthrough single “Money (That’s What I Want)” and later collaborated with Norman Whitfield on such classics as “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” “War,” and “Papa Was a Rollin' Stone,” has died at 81, per the AP.

  • Verlaine died in New York City, surrounded by close friends after a brief illness, said Cara Hutchison from the Lede Company, a public relations firm. Though Television never found much commercial success, Verlaine’s jaggedly inventive playing as part of the band's two-guitar assault influenced many musicians. Television issued its groundbreaking debut album Marquee Moon in 1977—including the nearly 11-minute title track and “Elevation"—and the sophomore effort Adventure a year later. Verlaine released eight solo albums, and frequently served as accompanist to former paramour Patti Smith. More on his life and career here.

  • Strong's death was announced Sunday on social media by the Motown Museum, which did not immediately provide further details. Strong had yet to turn 20 when he agreed to let his friend, Motown founder Berry Gordy, in the early days of building a recording empire in Detroit, manage him and release his music. Within a year, he was a part of history as the piano player and vocalist for “Money,” a million-seller released early in 1960 and Motown’s first major hit. Later, with Whitfield, he formed a productive and eclectic songwriting team that turned out hard-hitting and topical works, along with such timeless ballads as “I Wish It Would Rain” and “Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)." As Motown became more politically conscious late in the decade, Barrett-Whitfield turned out “Cloud Nine” and “Psychedelic Shack” for the Temptations and for Edwin Starr the protest anthem “War” and its widely quoted refrain, “War! What is it good for? Absolutely ... nothing!” More on his life and career here.
(More obituary stories.)

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