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.