American rock and roll band of the late 1960s. Original members were:
- Lou Reed (guitar/vocals)
- John Cale (bass guitar, viola, keyboard)
- Sterling Morrison (guitar)
- Maureen "Mo" Tucker (drums/percussion)
Although never commercially successful, the Velvet Underground remain one the most influential bands of their time. ("Only five thousand people ever bought a Velvet Underground album, but every single one of them started a band" -- or variation thereof -- is a common saying about them). Whilst the West coast was undergoing the Summer of Love, psychedelia and flower power the typically East coast Velvets concerned themselves with darker subject matter: transvestites, heroin addiction and sado-masochism. Also setting them apart from their contemporaries was their use of feedback and amplifier noise in a musical context, exemplified by the 17 minute "Sister Ray".
At first the band were managed by artist Andy Warhol, at whose instigation they featured German chanteuse Nico on their debut album, which featured a mixture of obsessive love songs and tales of hedonism. Nico had been jettisoned by the second album, which included the darkly comic "The Gift", narrated in Cale's deadpan Welsh accent.
Before the release of their third album Reed fired the classically trained Cale, who was replaced by /Doug Yule. This, and the theft of the band's equipment, resulted in a more orthodox sound for the record which showcased the songwriting styles that would inform Reed's later solo career. After the equally accessible /Loaded, the band split, with Yule recording one final album.
There was a brief reunion of the original lineup in 1993. Sterling Morrison died of cancer in 1995.
- /The Velvet Underground and Nico
- White Light/White Heat
- /The Velvet Underground
- /Squeeze (with none of the original members)
Later releases of archive material: