TV On The Radio's Gerard Smith dies at 36
Gerard Smith, back center, performs with TV On the Radio as part of the 2007 Virgin Festival in Baltimore, Maryland.
April 20th, 2011
06:59 PM ET

TV On The Radio's Gerard Smith dies at 36

TV On The Radio has confirmed via the band’s website that bassist Gerard Smith has passed away at the age of 36.

“We are very sad to announce the death of our beloved friend and bandmate, Gerard Smith, following a courageous fight against lung cancer,” the group’s message says. “Gerard passed away the morning of April 20th, 2011. We will miss him terribly.”

The band has also canceled upcoming tour stops in Detroit, Chicago, Minneapolis and Denver. "There will be more information as it becomes available," the group adds.

TV On The Radio released its latest album, "Nine Types of Light," last week, and according to the New York Times, Smith was diagnosed with lung cancer shortly after they finished recording the disc.

Filed under: Music

soundoff (103 Responses)
  1. mike

    Talk is cheap u idiots.

    RIP Gerard.

    April 24, 2011 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
  2. pinkie

    I suppose GrannyCat represents the people who, at some point, simply live with their memories and don't feel inclined to listen to new music.
    John Peel, a DJ who influenced many of us in the U.K. and around the world with the ground breaking music he played on his shows throughout the 60s, 70's, 80's, 90's and up until his death in 2004, would, I'm sure, have had TV On The Radio in for numerous sessions, just as he had bands such as Joy Division on in the late 70s, a band who didn't have "mainstream" success at the time, but went on to influence millions of musicians and bands, and sell albums by the truckload every year. Yes, we live in different musical climate today, where the influence and popularity of a band spreads in a different way than "way back when" – TVOTR are one of those bands.
    Saying that, however, the person earlier listed their accolades (Rolling Stone Best Album, etc) and they were hardly obscure; hopefully the death of Gerard Smith will have a silver lining in that they'll be more well known still.

    I'm 45 years old and, like John Peel, I will continue looking for new music until the day I die. When someone in an earlier comment said no one can "ever" come up with another "Eleanor Rigby", I say why not!! Of course they can, and regularly do – it's this kind of canonisation of artists that does more harm than good to music today. Have a good day all, and rest in peace, Gerard.

    April 22, 2011 at 5:24 am | Report abuse |
  3. pathayesd

    First, I wish the best for Mr. Smith & his family & friends... of which I'm sure includes the members of this GREAT band. Godspeed, my friend. Second... wanna say that TVOTR (as a collective) has given me HOPE that the future of musical creativity has promise! They're FAN'Fn'TASTIC LIVE! Life DOES go on, and so will their undeniable energy as a whole. RIP, Mr. Smith, and THANK YOU 😉

    April 21, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Larry

    This is sad news. I loved their first two albums. RIP Gerard.

    April 21, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Michael t

    rip dog

    April 21, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. bezerkur

    why all the slamming of lady gaga? what u dont think shes talented? maybe u need to do some research on her bfore she bcame lady gaga. and so what she takes a idea of madonna and spins it into one of the most played songs on the radio. i dont really support her political views but i know a artist when i see one. how bout slamming all these non talented millionaire rappers who've made their millions by stealing beats and snippets from the real artists. but hey this isnt about lady gaga its about another great artist who passed away bfore his time. R.I.P bro we'll play a hell of a gig somday.

    April 21, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mary

    All you young kids out there making fun of old people. Wait, your turn is coming. What do you think you'll be like in 30 or 40 years????????? Huh???????? Remember what you say.

    April 21, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. crookedtunes

    Should find a better picture of him! It's kind of disgraceful that he isn't even the focus of this one.

    April 21, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  9. harry

    Sometimes you win and lose all at the same time. Bummer.

    April 21, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  10. sylvan finkelstein

    to to young to past away...condolences to his family

    April 21, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Granny Kat

    Now that I got some people riled up I got my laughs for the day. Ahh, nothin' like the 60s..I'll have to take a TRIP down memory lane.

    April 21, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris R

      How terribly sad for you. Someone of your age only able to feel better about yourself by tearing others down. I hope by that point in my life I'll have the insight not to do such things.

      April 21, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  12. freetime1

    I am sure he picked the day. 420

    April 21, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Great Band!

    Sad! First song I ever heard from them was Wolf Like Me and became an instant fan!

    April 21, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Flooby

    Could they get a crappier picture of him? Maybe have him another 50 feet away from the camera? It's a great shame. He was a great talent.

    April 21, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  15. K

    I was turned on to them by my sister in NYC. Great band; very, very progressive. RIP Mr. Smith; I found this news quite sad and shocking.

    April 21, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  16. tenderitis

    Lol.... you people are soooo butt hurt about Stef's little comment....
    With just a few words she got all 12 of TVOTR's fans completely riled up....
    They can just get The Roots drummer to step in – he looks just like this guy, nobody would notice any difference.

    April 21, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jo

      Sadly, you're as much of a child as Stephanie. This is a serious subject. Go to the funnies if you want to play or be obnoxious.

      April 21, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Mike

    The best picture of the guy is of him, blurry, in the background? That's the real tragedy here.

    April 21, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  18. dwalu

    If you want an iconic song by them, try listening to "Wolf Like Me!" from "Return to Cookie Mountain." As for the peeps who don't think they are famous enough to mentioned on the news cycle, well then you just don't get it. Just respect the fact that a young, vital man lost his life way to soon and that there are people who are saddened by his loss, instead of spewing spiteful, ignorant invectives under the guise of anonymity. RIP Gerard, you will be missed.

    April 21, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  19. B's Brew

    To Steph and Granny: Ignorance is like money, its ok to have it but you needn't flaunt it. Stay thirsty my friends.

    April 21, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Lesley

    It doesn't matter if you've never heard of them, if this is your favorite band, you will be devastated. I'm not in this age group, but I remember how it is when you have a favorite band, it can be everything to you and your friends. 36 is WAY to young to die.

    April 21, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Russell

    Stefanie....You're dumb. As for TVOTR – GREAT band! Sad to hear this story. I also like JJ's comment. He doesn't listen to "commercial" music. Well, good sir, if that were would have heard of TV on the Radio. RIP GR

    April 21, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  22. alexwinter666

    Lung cancer at 36! Terrible. Rest in peace.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Flossmore

    While they'll never write a song like Eleanor Rigby (no one ever will) still better than all of that Gaga/Bieber crap out there today!! Sorry Stefanie......go to YouTube and check out some of the latest bands......

    April 21, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Native American

    I had only heard of this band a little bit... they're not really high profile... but they're good. This is very sad. Only 36... yikes. May he rest in peace.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Granny Kat

    @Dave-today's music sucks! Don't know of any great artists today with any memorable songs. Where's the next Hendrix, etc. Listen to the old stuff and you'll get my point...maybe.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      I listen to a TON of "old stuff", and most doesn't beat it, you're correct...but, it doesn't need to. The bar was set very high, we should NEVER expect another Hendrix, etc. There's tons of GREAT stuff out there, the difference today is it doesn't find YOU, you have to find IT. If you want to seek it out, you likely won't be disappointed, if not that's cool too (hey, good music is not worth everyone's time, I get that) but you'll be left with the Nickelbacks, Black Eyed Peas and Americal Idols of the world. Read a blog, subscribe to a music magazine, get XM/Sirius and you'll get my point...maybe.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mikey

      @Dave She'll never get your point.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      @Granny Kat...I don't think you can make a blanket statement about "today's music". I, too, love the old stuff, and have never heard of this band. However, from all the positive remarks, I'm going to check them out. I just might really like them. It's to bad it took the death of one of their (way to young!) band members for me to hear about them. are right when you say you have to look for the music. I don't spend that much time doing it, but when I hear people singing (pun intended) the praises of a band, I like to check them out for myself. sound cranky.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bubba

      I kinda agree with you, but not with your tone. There IS too much bad music, or even worse, uninspired music, today. Too many bands fighting for space, maybe, but there should have been more Hendrixes and Led Zeps by now. Another reason to call today's youth lazy? Get to work, kids, we want more genius music and some great novels and we want them now! Haven't heard these guys, but I'll check them out.

      April 21, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Granny Kat, that is a ridiculous statement to make. There are tonnes of musicians out there today that are as influential and talented as Hendrix. It doesn't mean you personally have to like them, but you shouldn't discredit them just because you either don't know about them or they aren't your thing. Listen to Radiohead, The Arcade Fire, Sufjan Stevens, and fittingly enough, TV on the Radio as a start. All of these bands, and many more are pushing music forward into new and exciting places. Old music is great and should be appreciated. But new music is too.

      April 21, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  26. JJ

    The guy is the red t-shirt has a nice rack.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Cynthia-494

    Thank you for leaving the legacy of your music. RIP

    April 21, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  28. Riff

    What music genre are they? I don't watch much TV.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mikey

      It takes far less time to Google that answer than it does to log in and ask the question. Let alone wait for an answer. Me thinks you are a troll... or an old person.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rock

      So instead of just answering the question, you had to yammer on about the person needing to do their own research.
      And to answer the actual question:
      TV on the Radio is an American art rock band formed in 2001 in Brooklyn, New York, whose music spans numerous diverse genres, from post-punk to electro and free jazz to soul music. The group has released several EPs including their debut Young Liars (2003), and four critically acclaimed studio albums: Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes (2004), Return to Cookie Mountain (2006), Dear Science (2008), and Nine Types of Light (2011).

      April 21, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe Maer

      So, the bassist that is pictured in the background died? Nice pic CNN!

      April 21, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Dave

    Still trying to figure out what is gained by eagerly going out of your way to look like a moron. If you've never heard of them...what are your music credentials? Do you only follow top 40 radio, VH1, etc? If so, isn't it widely assumed that a ton of great music is going to pass you by? Instead of saying "never heard of them", now that they're (unfortunately) made their way to cnn...CHECK THEM OUT!!! Then you can say "not my thing but sorry for their loss" instead of pretending like you know anything about today's music.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      What the hell is your point? That you're a self proclaimed musical genious?

      April 21, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  30. Fred L. Fraud

    Jaco Pastorius – loser

    April 21, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jaco Pastorious

      Oh, the icy words of the little turdgoblin have mortally wounded me! However will I go on?!

      April 21, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  31. Granny Kat

    Hey guys don't pick on poor Stefanie, I'm sure alot of people never heard of this band-myself included. Mabey if I listened to the radio or watched Letterman I would be on top of all the most important stuff in the world. Right dimwits?

    April 21, 2011 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
    • adam

      She stated "why is this news?". She is a self-centered as* and deserves every bit of the flaming she is getting.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mikey

      @Granny Kat...You couldn't spell to save your life. But I'm glad, because I know that you will die in the new television show "Spell Or Die". I like turtles.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Granny must be too tired from yelling at those damn kids to get off her lawn to realize that Stephanie (and now her) are not the intended audience for this article, and no one cares if THEY haven't heard of this band – this article is simply not relevant to them. This place is for respect for the subject of this article and for those who knew and cared (which is a lot of people, Steffie & Gran, believe it or not) to offer condolences and good words for the band, friends, and family. Congrats on being a couple of stupid trolls, even if you're too dim to realize what you are.

      Also, RIP Gerard, and condolences to all who cared for you – you've left a lasting mark in this world, for all who were lucky enough to hear & enjoy your music.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeebus

      Granny, you make me so mad. I hope all your beloved cats kill you in your sleep. I friggin hate turtles!

      April 21, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  32. Nicky Cee

    I like their previous name "Magazine Advertisement on the Billboard." Much more edgy! What is little know is that shortly before he passed, Smith was actually lobbying hard for another name change – is that wild? Yeah, he either wanted "Water-Based Pastel on the 8-Track Player" or "Cave Drawings on the 120-Volt CRT Monitor." Can you believe it!?

    April 21, 2011 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  33. Dachele

    @ Jaco Pastorius, great comment!!!

    April 21, 2011 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  34. pat

    I'm available, I play the bass.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  35. Shedevil

    36 is a very young age to die of lung cancer. Does anyone know if he had bad habits (i.e. smoking) that contributed to this or was this mostly genetic? Very interesting.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  36. Superhiro

    You are all racist.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  37. longislandicedshe

    its sad when you can sit around and talk crap about a band you don't know anything about – so what are you saying really? you don't know. i knew gerard and he was a very talented, sweet and down to earth guy. too good for this world, i now know, after reading all these crude comments. get a life people, and live it before its over b/c it goes by too fast.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  38. Evel Knievel

    All the Lady Gaga apologists who readily gobble up the tr1pe she puts out would do themselves a favor by listening to this band.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
  39. Drew

    This band is not for the unintelligent, American Idol is. RIP Gerard Smith.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  40. Carter

    Great band. Great musician. Big loss. Stefanie, it's the entertainment section of the site. Seeing how music is considered entertainment/art, I'd say that this belongs right where it is. Also, the headline obviously struck your attention enough for you to peak in and read it so why even bother with a stupid comment?

    April 21, 2011 at 12:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Thomas

      Because stupid people are prone to making stupid comments. Accept it.

      April 21, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  41. Brandon

    Sweet, someone's death results in not only "Who cares?", but "How is this news!". Disgusting.

    Even though they've been critically acclaimed for half a decade. Even though they've put brilliance to tape album after album. The 5 album (or most likely 10 single downloads) a year crowd demands to know why you've posted this. His death has wasted their 30 seconds, that most likely would have been spent gleefully cheering violence against women by Charlie Sheen or Mel Gibson.

    This is like a dark awful mirror image of the "Who is Arcade Fire?" tumblr.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Thomas

      It's a sad testimonial to the attention spans and musical tastes of modern audiences.

      April 21, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • fred

      TV on the Radio, Arcade Fire, etc. OK. But how many fans of these bands/acts ever heard of and listen to The Beatles, Stones, Who, Clash, Ramones, Skynyrd, Squeeze, Blondie, etc.?

      April 21, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Fred, I'm a fan of TV on the Radio, Arcade Fire, Radiohead, and many many other modern and well reviewed bands. So are many of my friends. And every single one of us is intimately familiar with the Beatles, the Stones, Paul Simon, The Who, Pink Floyd, and many others. I strongly (and respectfully, I am Canadian after all) disagree with your point. These bands are a continuation of the ground breaking music that bands of the 60's 70's and 80's started.

      April 21, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jo

      Sadly, truer word were never spoken. Today, it's mostly a "Me" mentality world, and those people really aren't worth discussing, let alone reading their feeble opinions.

      April 21, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brandon


      There's an overwhelming chance that anyone moderately versed in the exciting things happening in music in the last decade (I.E. the bands you cite plus hundreds if not thousands more) have pretty detailed knowledge of the musical landscape dating back to the 60's at the very least. The same breed of folks that have followed TV on the Radio are those that bought the Ramones or Clash records 35 years ago. You're living in an age when a kid can download 20,000 songs and you're wondering how many of them are knowledgeable about The Who? Seriously? We not only heard these acts but our hard drives have been full of them for a decade.

      This "music was done after my generation grew up" garbage is a little worn out. Things have never stopped being exciting in music. What isn't exciting now, wasn't exciting then either. Abuses of payola to promote fewer than five new acts a year by conglomerates who control recording, promotion, venues, distribution, and reviews. Your lack of finding anything new of similar quality of art to that in your age is your failing, not the artists. Turn off the radio and start downloading some mix-tapes at one of the thousands of MP3 blogs.

      April 21, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
  42. football fan

    Do they have a hit

    April 20, 2011 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nik

      Many! Depending on who you ask. They are very popular within a niche music fan base. They happen to be my favorite band.

      April 21, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      What's a hit in 2011? And what does it matter?

      April 21, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Geez

      Wolf Like Me was probably the biggest hit they had.

      April 21, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • fred

      A "hit" today means a "viral " video or live clip on YouTube/Faceboook, etc. and selling 50,000 downloads. Gee, I loved the 'good old days' of the 1970s and 1980s where acts actually sold those big black plastic round things with cardboard sleeves to put them in, with pictures and writings about the music and the band. The internet/downloads are easy but so disconnected from the rest of any band's music and personality and overall "message". All most bands can hope for now is to constantly tour small clubs forever to make a living. Out of the thousands of active and signed/unsigned acts, only a handful are rich and household names. And most of them suck! Britney/Aguilera/Lady Gaga et al.

      April 21, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Butterbean

      "Providence" got regular radio play a couple of years ago.

      April 21, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
  43. staring @ the sun

    Agreed... great band. Though probably not for the "Top 40" set. Sorry to hear that they lost a member.

    But, I guess since Stephanie has never heard of them, CNN should strike this story immediately...

    April 20, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
  44. wolf like me

    They are a great band. Not for everyone, not for the same old chord progression loving bandwagon riders who are afraid to listen to something different. Sorry to hear about the loss.

    April 20, 2011 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nicole

      I've never heard of the band, but searched them on youtube after I heard the news and i have to agree, great band, a gifted group of musicians. 36 is so young, RIP Mr. Smith.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thomas

      It's a tragedy that he passed so young, but couldn't CNN have found a picture of him where he wasn't lurking in the background and slightly out of focus? Seems like a bit of a slap in the face.

      April 21, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • fred

      I am not a fan, but I know the band. What a sad day for them. I thought they were all in their early 20's. Only 36 to die from lung cancer is almost unheard of. Awful. RIP

      April 21, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • mypitts2

      @Fred: Yes, they could have. I wish they had. Sometimes it's best to go with no photo until you get a decent one. A lot of the young journalists don't grasp that.

      April 21, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • truthinrock

      Great way to backhand bash anyone who doesn't agree with your personal opinion of what good music is. LOL

      April 21, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |

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