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The Velvet Underground was an American rock band formed in New York City in 1964. It originally comprised singer and guitarist Lou Reed, Welsh multi-instrumentalist John Cale, guitarist Sterling Morrison, and drummer Angus MacLise. MacLise was replaced by Moe Tucker in 1965, who played on most of the band's recordings. Though their integration of rock and the avant-garde achieved little commercial success, they became one of the most influential bands in rock, underground, experimental, and alternative music. Their provocative subject matter, musical experiments, and nihilistic attitude was also instrumental in the development of punk rock, new wave and several other genres.
The Velvet Underground
|Also known as||
|Origin||New York City, New York, U.S.|
|Spinoff of||Theatre of Eternal Music|
The group performed under several names before settling on the Velvet Underground in 1965, taken from the title of a book on atypical sexual behavior. In 1966, the pop artist Andy Warhol became their manager. They served as the house band at Warhol's studio, the Factory, and his traveling multimedia show, the Exploding Plastic Inevitable, from 1966 to 1967. Their debut album, The Velvet Underground & Nico, featuring the German singer and model Nico, was released in 1967 to critical indifference and poor sales but later drew acclaim. They released three more albums, White Light/White Heat (1968), The Velvet Underground (1969), and Loaded (1970), with Doug Yule replacing Cale for the final two. None performed to the expectations of record labels or Reed, the band's leader.
In the early 1970s, all but Yule left the band. Yule led an abortive UK tour in 1973, and released a final album under the Velvet Underground name, Squeeze (1973), recorded mostly by Yule with session musicians. The members collaborated on each other's solo work throughout the 1970s and 1980s, and a retrospective "rarities" album, VU, was released in 1985. Reed, Cale, Tucker and Morrison reunited for a series of well-received shows in 1993, and released a live album from the tour, Live MCMXCIII.
After Morrison's death in 1995, the remaining members played a final performance at their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 1996. Reed died in 2013. In 2004, the Velvet Underground were ranked number 19 on Rolling Stone's list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time". The New York Times wrote that the Velvet Underground was "arguably the most influential American rock band of our time".