R.I.P. Tom Snyder, Unlikely Punk Benefactor

Jul 30th, 2007 // 9 Comments

Tom Snyder died yesterday in San Francisco at the age of 71, after battling leukemia for several years. Inevitably, most of the obituaries that will cross the newswires today will mention his heavy smoking on Tomorrow, which followed Tonight on NBC from 1973 to 1982, and Dan Aykroyd’s Snyder impression from the early years of Saturday Night Live. But Snyder deserves to be heralded by music-nerd circles, too.

From a Plasmatics performance ending with an exploded television to the the first American television appearances of U2 and “Weird Al” Yankovic, you could count on Snyder to have someone interesting on nearly every night. What other network television show before or since would feature a roundtable discussion on the state of music with guests Robert Hilburn, Kim Fowley, Paul Weller and Joan Jett? Thanks for the images, Tom, as they flew through the air.

Legendary Newsman Tom Snyder Dead
[Fox 11 Los Angeles]

  1. umlaut75

    We should also remember that Tom Snyder’s post-Letterman show probably launched the talk show career (snarky-serious side) of Jon Stewart. Sure, Stewart had an MTV show earlier, but his guest hosting of Snyder’s show showed he had a earnest streak in his humor as well.

  2. aaron_green

    don’t forget his interview w/ public image ltd., which can be viewed here:


    and concluding here:


    what a riveting train wreck; pity you rarely, if ever, see tv like this anymore.

  3. rocknrollwife

    Milwaukee mourns one of her favorite sons. Tom was beloved here for his straightforward approach and endless cigarette.

  4. J DTZR

    Another great Snyder classic was his interview with KISS circa 1981 (?) in which an obviously drunk Ace Frehley steals the show as an obviously seething Gene Simmons pouts and sulks.

  5. TurdsAndWhey

    Sad, sad news.

    From a Plasmatics performance ending with an exploded television…

    W.O.W. and company ‘exploded’ a car for their performance. From my years as the dorm night monitor, the Tomorrow and Overnight shows, when I could catch them, kept me going. I eventually got the impression that the only ones who mocked him have no idea of his unusual cherubic curiosity, which drove his personality as much as his gift of gab.

  6. natepatrin

    @TurdsAndWhey: The best part of that Plasmatics performance was the aftermath, where Snyder stood next to the wreckage and delivered this smarmy used car salesman pitch. It was square and hip at the same time.

  7. romannose

    I remember watching him afer Letterman when i was little kid with his crazy eyebrows and his production crew always laughing. seemed like a good guy.

  8. mackro

    I was watching that New Wave/Punk 2-DVD the previous weekend. So nice. I kinda thought Tom (mostly) asked the bands great questions! They always centered on three things: “anger”, “money”, and “company”. The best part of the 2-DVD was that they had the FULL episodes there, including the OTHER people that were on.

    Seeing a 10-year-old Ricky Schroeder interviewed right before Iggy Pop was a trip. Even more of a trip was right before PiL was… Alan Carr! Producer of Can’t Stop The Music!

    I’m not going to debate whether Tom “got” it or not. The important part was that he was intrigued enough with it (or tolerant enough) to feature enough of the, then, music underground to persist on his show. I’d rather have seen Snyder contemplating “what are these ridiculous kids THINKING?” live on TV rather than have a more well known TV host just smile and let the bands off easy.

    Ironically, the best part was when Kelly Lang, subbing for Snyder, interviewed The Ramones. Classic classic classic.

    Very sad about this.

  9. Jupiter8

    He had the Plasmatics on at least twice…I think he had a crush on Wendy O…RIP Tom.

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