Interview: Television’s Richard Lloyd to Bring “Marquee Moon” to The Hangar October 2nd

Richard Lloyd pretty much laughed in my face when I credited his band Television with being sophisticated. “I don’t know about sophisticated, but we were the band that created the scene built up around us (at CBGB’s in 1977), and then there were other bands that found out there was a place to play original music. There really was no place in New York that a band could play original music except CBGB’s and maybe Kansas City upstairs. Aside from that, we had to rent our own hallways and our own rooms, and put on shows ourselves.” 

CBGB was the East Village club that would become the launching pad for The Ramones, Blondie, and the Talking Heads. More than 40 years later, the club is mostly remembered for being the American home of punk rock, but Television was to punk rock what The Beatles were to Frankie Avalon.  

The byplay of Richard Lloyd and Tom Verlaine on guitar on their first album Marquee Moon broke a cardinal rule of rock and roll. That rule said that in any rock band with two guitars, one guitarist plays lead and the other rhythm. Lloyd and Verlaine were partners who danced close on “Marquee Moon,” the first single off that debut album. Their guitar interplay was almost symphonic – hardcore, but symphonic. AllMusic rates the song as “revolutionary.” England’s Uncut Magazine ranks the album number 3 of the 100 Greatest Debut Records. 

I asked Lloyd if he consciously collaborated with Tom Verlaine to create a sound that ignored the standard lead guitar vs. rhythm guitar that most rock bands were doing at the time?“I guess so. I saw something in him that was good and something that was drastically missing, and I had what he was missing. I knew that if you just put the two of us together, you would have something.”

Photo by Stacie Huckeba

Lloyd left Television after their second album Adventure in 1978. Incredibly bad timing for a band equally as talented as the Talking Heads and Patti Smith.  The momentum was lost. Lloyd has been back and forth with Television several times but plays the Hangar on The Hudson in Troy as a solo act with several albums out under his own name. At this show, he promises to do “a lot of my stuff, and I do some Television stuff. I do about half of Marquee Moon, the record.” 

David Leonard assumes Verlaine’s role on the second guitar. “He’s been my guitarist for a very long time. He played with me since 1986 or something. So, we get along. I’ve used other people in the meantime. He was one of the first, and it kept going. He’s good on the pickup. And I’ve got Kevin – what’s your last name, Kevin? Kevin Tooley on drums. Fan-fucking-tastic. You can take the swear word out of it if you want. He’s really coming into his own. It’s like a drum workshop. Ha, ha. A polyrhythmic beat story. Tom Durrier is on bass. Tom played with The Kinks for a little while not that long ago.” 

Lloyd is an interesting character. He recalls the first time he ever played in front of an audience at Boston’s Jazz Workshop in 1970. “I went to John Lee Hooker’s dressing room and he says, ‘What’s your name, sonny?’ Richard. ‘Well, Richard, watcha do?’ And I said, ‘Uh.’ He says, ‘Yeah, you’re a good man. You’re gonna come on stage and play with us tonight later, and if you don’t show up, I’m gonna have them turn on the lights and have them chase you down.’  

“It was a great show, and then three-fourths of the way through the show, he introduced me. He said, ‘I have this fine young man, a new guitar player Richard Louis (sic). Come up here, Richard.’ So, I went up, and he forced me to make a sound, but he took me around three times before he passed the solo on. So, that was my initiation to being on stage to paying customers.”  

Lloyd also had made the first Television recording with Brian Eno. It was canned and never released. He describes Eno as impossible. “He was like, ‘Let’s throw the deck of cards in the air and whatever card lands first, that’s what we’ll do, like let’s nail this amplifier to the ceiling.’ He was really wanting to experiment. We knew what we wanted, and that was a recording of our stuff, but we didn’t want to experiment. He was great with the Talking Heads and U2 and all that, but he wasn’t any good with us.”  

Lloyd claims the demo tracks that Brian Eno did with Television still exist “somewhere in the bowels of YouTube.” (We found it, check it out below.)

He remembers talking to Jimi Hendrix at a mob-run basement club called Salvation in 1969. “I sat down in an empty seat, and the guy next to Jimi got up, and everybody pushed me over so that I was on Jimi’s left. He was talking to somebody on his right. I think it was Billy Cox from what I can remember. He wasn’t playing with Noel (Redding) anymore. So, anyway, he started talking to me, and he was all bemoaning his fate, and how everyone wanted him to play the clown, and he couldn’t do it.” 

I asked Lloyd if he was surprised that Marquee Moon didn’t mark the beginning of his becoming a rock star? 

“Yes! That was my wish when I was young, and so it came true.” 

Does he consider himself a rock star? 

“No, but other people do. So, I (take them) at their word.” 

Two acts, Haunted Cat and The Lawn Sausages open the show. Tickets are $12 in advance, $16 at the door. Doors open at 6 p.m. Hangar on the Hudson is located at 675 River St. in Troy across the street from The Ale House. 

1 Comment
  1. Rudy Lu says

    See what Richard was doing a few years back @ the Falcon back in January 2019.

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