Music

Velvet Underground

Formed when Welshman John Cale moved to New York to study classical music and met budding writer and music fanatic Lou Reed, the Velvet Underground became the ultimate avant-garde cult band creating a legacy of scuzzy, pounding, narcotic rock'n'roll. Reed's fascination with the city's seedy underbelly and Cale's love of experimental composer La Monte Young's minimal drone sound caught the attention of Andy Warhol, who sponsored the band and helped them sign to Verve Records. They teamed up with German singer Nico and became part of the artist's live multi-media road show named Andy Warhol and the Exploding Plastic Inevitable; playing while films were projected over them and Edie Sedgwick and friends danced. Classic debut album The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967) has been cited as one of the most groundbreaking and influential of all time, though it's often said "only 50 people bought it, but of those 50, 40 went on to form bands." Driven by the distorted feedback of tracks Sister Ray and The Gift, its follow-up White Light/White Heat (1968) received a similar reaction, paving the way for punk rock and new wave, yet selling poorly. Cale left the Velvets shortly after to pursue a solo career and become an esteemed producer working with The Stooges, Patti Smith and Squeeze and the band took a more conventional turn on The Velvet Underground (1969) and Loaded (1970). A fraught, disillusioned Lou Reed left in 1970, but the band limped on with Doug Yule on vocals, producing the underwhelming Squeeze (1973) shortly before their eventual demise.

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07-07-2011