The Velvet Underground biography
The Velvet Underground was an American rock band formed in New York City. First active from 1964 to 1973, its best-known members were Lou Reed and John Cale, who both went on to find success as solo artists. Although experiencing little commercial success while together, the band is often cited by many critics as one of the most important and influential groups of the 1960s. In a 1982 interview Brian Eno made the often repeated statement that while the first Velvet Underground album may have sold only 30,000 copies in its early years, "everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band."
Andy Warhol managed the Velvet Underground and it was the house band at his studio, the Factory, and his Exploding Plastic Inevitable events. The provocative lyrics of some of the band's songs gave a nihilistic outlook to some of their music.
Their 1967 debut album, The Velvet Underground & Nico (which featured German singer Nico, with whom the band collaborated), was named the 13th Greatest Album of All Time, and the "most prophetic rock album ever made" by Rolling Stone in 2003. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked the band No. 19 on its list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time". The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, by Patti Smith.
Pre-career (1964-1965)The foundations for what would become the Velvet Underground were laid in late 1964. Singer/guitarist Lou Reed had performed with a few short-lived garage bands and had worked as a songwriter for Pickwick Records (Reed described his tenure there as being "a poor man's Carole King"). Reed met John Cale, a Welshman who had moved to the United States to study classical music upon securing a scholarship. Cale had worked with experimental composers Cornelius Cardew and La Monte Young but was also interested in rock music. Young's use of extended drones would be a profound influence on the band's early sound. Cale was pleasantly surprised to discover that Reed's experimentalist tendencies were similar to his own: Reed sometimes used alternative guitar tunings to create a droning sound. The pair rehearsed and performed together; their partnership and shared interests built the path towards what would later become the Velvet Underground.
Reed's first group with Cale was The Primitives, a short-lived group assembled to issue budget-priced recordings and support an anti-dance single penned by Reed, "The Ostrich", to which Cale added a viola passage. Reed and Cale recruited Sterling Morrison-a college classmate of Reed's at Syracuse University-as a replacement for Walter De Maria, who had been a third member of The Primitives. Morrison played the guitar, and Angus MacLise joined on percussion to complete the four-member unit. This quartet was first called The Warlocks, then The Falling Spikes.
The Velvet Underground by Michael Leigh was a contemporary pulp paperback about the secret sexual subculture of the early 1960s that Cale's friend Tony Conrad showed the group. MacLise made a suggestion to adopt the title as the band's name, and according to Reed and Morrison the group liked the name, considering it evocative of "underground cinema", and fitting, as Reed had already written "Venus in Furs", a song inspired by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's book of the same name, dealing with masochism. The band immediately and unanimously adopted the Velvet Underground as its new name in November 1965.
Biography from , the free encyclopedia.
It may not have been reviewed by a professional editor, and recent changes may not show up straight away. See the latest version of this article. Used under licence. Subject to disclaimers.