The Velvet Underground – An Influential Rock Music and Avant-Punk Band

This rock band also known as the Falling Spikes or Warlocks originated from New York City and was active from 1964 to 1996. During their existence, they didn’t achieve much of commercial success but they still went down history as one of the most influential bands which successfully integrated proto-punk, art rock, Avant-punk, and experimental rock.

In 1967, the group released their debut album entitled The Velvet Underground & Nico. Nico was a German collaborator and singer. According to Rolling Stone, this album was the most prophetic rock album ever produced. Later in 2004, Rolling Stone listed the band at number 19 position on its 100 greatest artists of all time. Earlier in 1996, the band was inducted by Patti Smith into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The Band Members

The singer, songwriter, and guitarist Lou Reed is among the founders of the Velvet Ground whose foundation was laid late in 1964. Through his efforts, the following members came on board.

  • John Cale – A multi-instrumentalist
  • Sterling Morrison – A guitarist
  • Angus Maclise – A drummer
  • Maureen Tucker
  • Doug Yule
  • Walter Powers
  • Willie Alexander

From 1966 to 1967, the group was under the management of Andy Warhol and served at the Factory as a house band.

The unique aspect with The Velvet Underground and Nico album is that it sold just 30,000 copies, but almost everyone who bought a copy went ahead to start a band. This is how influential the band became.

Fall Outs

Later on, Andy Warhol severed his relationship with the band leaving them with no option but to look for a replacement in Steve Sesnick. However, Sesnick did not blend well with Cale because the latter felt that Sesnick was pushing Reed too much at the expense of the band’s harmony.

The Velvet Underground then produced their second album entitled White Light/White Heat under the producer Tom Wilson. As the band continued performing, they attracted a number of endorsements one of which came from Vox. Cale thereafter left the band after playing his last show at the Boston Tea Party.

As a replacement to Cale, Doug Yule came into the picture. Coincidentally while performing at the Boston Tea Party, the band stayed in Yule’s house which many believe gave a catalyst to him joining the band. The role of Yule in the band was varied from handling bass and organ duties to contributing vocals. After a few months, the band recorded their third album at TTG Studios in California.

In August 1970, Reed quit the band because he felt there wasn’t tangible progress the band was making and the pressure from the manager was intense.

The Reunion

Reed and Cale came together in 1990 and released a single entitled Songs for Drella, a nickname for Warhol. The song was a tribute to him because he was no more. After this song, they were rumors of a reunion and finally in 1992, Reed, Cale, Morris, and Tucker came together as The Velvet Underground and started a European tour on June 1, 1993. To date the band exists, but as a New York based partnership.

I remember how much I loved this band back when I lived in NYC. I did move away thanks to the help of TDY Moving but had some good times there.

 

 

 

 

Simon & Garfunkel – The Popular American Folk Rock Duo of the 1960s

From their humble beginnings in Forest Hills, New York City, Paul Simon, a singer-songwriter, and Art Garfunkel, a singer, rose to be one of the greatest counterculture icons of the 1960s. Together with prominent artists such as Bob Dylan, the Beach Boys, and the Beetles, the duo became a significant contributor in social revolution.

The two artists grew up in Forest Hills which was then a predominantly Jewish neighborhood. They went to the same school and from a tender age, they developed an attraction to music and particularly rock and roll. As early as 1953, Simon and Garfunkel started performing in street corners and school dances.

They wrote their first song entitled the Girl for Me in 1956, a year after they joined Forest Hill High School. They went ahead to create another song that they self-recorded at Sanders Recording studio based in Manhattan. It was at this point that they chanced upon Sid Prosen who signed them to Big Records after speaking to their parents.

Simon and Garfunkel Albums

Their single, Hey School Girl, attracted a massive audience after it was played on Alan Freed’s radio show. It sold over 100,000 copies and landed at number 49 on Billboard’s charts. Before graduating from High School, they had released other three singles; That’s My Story, Our Song, and Don’t Say Goodbye. Unfortunately, none of them made it big.

Their first album entitled Wednesday Morning 3 A.M. was recorded in March 1964 and then released in October the same year. However, it only sold 3,000 copies which by all standards was a failure.

Between 1964 and 1965, the duo had alternating periods of success and dry spells. For instance, at one time, the song Carols Dominguez, a single by Simon was picked up by Lorna Music which was a small publishing company. To their surprise, the song sold very well and Simon signed a recording contract with the company.

The Break Ups and Reunions

The song Sound of Silence had sold over a million copies by January 1966 and this was a turning point for the duo. After releasing the Sound of Silence album, the two went ahead to record their fourth album known as Bookends. This is when signs of a break up started becoming noticeable.

The two went into film and this sort of endangered their relationship and collaboration. After the filming season which lasted about 8 months, the group got back together and did a few tours. In 1971, the duo split and then later on had episodes of reunions in 1975, 1977, and 1978.

One of their notable reunions was on September 19, 1981 at the concert in Central Park which attracted over 500,000 people. This prompted Warner Bros. Records to release a live album of their show which did very well in the United States.

Their recent reunion was in 2009 where they did three songs at the Beacon Theatre in Ney York.

 

No Doubt – The Formation, Hiatus and Reunion

No Doubt is a rock band that was formed in 1986 and hails from Anaheim, California. It’s one of the few American rock bands that have consistently held onto its band members for so long. The group consists of the following members:

  • Gwen Stefani – She is the vocalist
  • Tony Kanal – He is both a bassist and keyboardist
  • Tom Dumont – He is also a keyboardist, but can play the guitar as well
  • Adrian Young – He is the band’s drummer

The No Doubt rock band has been having both studio and live performances starting from the 1990s. The support of Gabrial McNair, an excellent keyboardist and trombonist as well as that of Stephen Bradley, a keyboardist and trumpeter has been significant in making the group achieve greater heights.

The No Doubt Formative Years

The people who came up with the idea of getting a group together to form a rock band were John Spence, Dairy Queen, and Eric Stefani. This is when they brought in the likes of Jerry McMahon, Chris Webb, Gabriel Gonzalez, Chris Leal, Tony Meade, and Alan Meade. Their practicing venue was at the garage of Eric’s parents.

Later on, Tony Kanal joined in as well as Paul Caseley and Eric Carpenter. One of the saddest events in the history of the band happened in December 1987 when the band had been invited to play at The Roxy Theatre. A few days to the event, one of their band members, John Spence, committed suicide.

The band broke up later, but again regrouped after a few weeks and Alan Meade took over the vocals. After some time, Meade left and was replaced by Gwen who took the lead singer role. They were lots of movements in and out of the band which culminated in Caseley leaving in July 1989 to join the US Navy Band.

No Doubt Albums

The band was signed by Interscope Records in 1990 by Tony Ferguson in a multi-album deal which saw them release their first self-titled album in 1992. However, this album didn’t do well in the market and sold only 30,000 copies.

The second album for No Doubt was produced by Trauma Records in 1993 after Eric Stefani and Tony Kanal left the band to pursue their personal interests. The album was called the Beacon Street Collection. It sold more copies than the first album.

In 1995, the group released the Tragic Kingdom album that mainly highlighted the relationship between Gwen Stefani and Tony Kanal who had broken up after seven years of dating. From this album, the single entitled Just a Girl catapulted the group to mainstream commercial success.

The Break Up and Reunion

2003 was such an excellent year for No Doubt. They released quite a number of commercially successful hits. Before the break up, the band went on a tour in mid-2004 with Blink-182. Gwen Stefani launched her solo career and later a tour in October 2005.

The period between 2008 and 2013 saw the band work together as a team with Gwen Stefani on board. However, in October 2013 another break up happened and as at present, the band is on its second hiatus with Stefani not sure when they will regroup.

Minor Threat -The Hardcore Punk Washington DC Band

This is one of the bands which had a shot stint, but one that was really powerful and exceptionally influential especially on the punk scene. They are credited with the establishment of a do it yourself concert promotion and music distribution ethic. Through their song, Straight Edge, the band became a huge contributor to the straight edge movement and ideals.

According to AllMusic, Minor Threat was an iconic band that produced groundbreaking music that has stood the test of time and change more than their contemporaries. Together with other Washington DC bands such as Bad Brains and California-based Black Flag band, Minor Threat literally set the standard for a lot of other hardcore punk bands.

The Early Years of Minor Threat

While attending Wilson High School, Jeff Nelson and Ian MacKaye started playing drums and bass respectively. They were strong believers in independent underground music scene and DIY mentality. They used the money they raised early in their career to create an independent record label known as Dischord Records. Through this label, they hosted the releases of bands such as Minor Threat, Teen Idles, and other punk bands in Washington DC.

Later on, they recruited bassist Brian Baker and guitarist Lyle Preslar. In 1981, they released the first seven-inch extended plays, In My Eyes and Minor Threat. The group grew in popularity and toured Midwest and East Coast.

The Reunion and Break Up

Somewhere during the release of the second seven-inch extended play known as Out of Step, there was a brief split which saw Lyle Preslar move to Illinois to pursue college education at North Western University. Left behind, Nelson and MacKaye worked on a studio only project, but could not agree on the title because disagreements were increasingly finding their way into the group.

In March 1982, Preslar left college under the urging of Hunting Rod, the lead singer in the band Bad Brains and re-formed Minor Threat. The reunited band included Steve Hansgen who joined as a bassist.

In 1983, the band broke up again and the main bone of contention was a disagreement over music direction. The days leading to the breakup saw MacKaye skipping practice sessions only writing lyrics to the Salad Days extended play which was something quite an unusual. The band did its final show at Washington DC’s Lansburgh Cultural Center on September 23, 1983.

MacKaye went ahead to form the band Embrace with other members from other bands. Baker on the other hand went into other hardcore punk bands including the Meatmen, Government Issue, Junkyard, Dag Nasty, and currently plays in Bad Religion. The other band members Preslar, Nelson, and Hansgen went their separate ways also.

Despite their being calls from fans for the band to reunite, they are still reconsidering whether they will have a second reunion after what seems like an indefinite hiatus. Hopes are still on for a second reunion.