The Velvet Underground Biography

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Velvet UndergroundHow can a commercially unsuccessful band be regarded as one of the most influential and important bands to come out in the history of rock music?

Although achieving little commercial success as a band during the late 60’s and the early 70’s, the Velvet Underground has been considered as one of the most influential bands ever to come out from their era. This distinction may have made them a highly regarded band by other band that came out after them.

The Velvet Underground was an American rock band that came out sometime in 1965 and became active till sometime in 1973. They most recognized line-up was composed of Lou Reed on vocals and guitar, John Cale on a multiple of instruments, Sterling Morrison on guitar and Maureen Tucker on percussion.

The band had its start as a band when singer guitarist Lou Reed met with a Welshman by the name of John Cale who was at that time studying classical music in the US. Both discovered that they had the same musical experimentalist tendencies and that started their road into deciding to start their own band.

Reed and Cale eventually were able to form the Velvet Underground in New York City around 1965. Their first paying performance was at Summit High School in New Jersey which they accepted for an offer of US$75. They achieved some popularity when the famed artist, Andy Warhol became their manager. By virtue of Warhol’s reputation at that time, the band was able to get a recording contract with Verve Records. Much of their musical experimentation was not compromised in any way as Warhol, acting as their producer, gave the Velvets free rein as to how they created their music.

The Velvet Underground eventually provided the music for Warhol’s multimedia road show dubbed as the Exploding Plastic Inevitable. Their run lasted until 1967 where the band was able to tour all over United States and Canada. Their debut album was released around 1967 where Nico, a fashion model, actress and a Warhol star collaborated with the Velvets on vocals for three songs upon the insistence of Warhol himself.

The album only reached as high as the 171st spot on the Billboard charts, not really considered as a commercial success. The album however, became more popular for its Warhol sleeve design which features a bright yellow banana on the cover with a "Peel slowly and see" text imprinted near a perforated tab. Upon following the instruction, there lies beneath a pink peeled banana.

Eventual albums of the band were not as successful as their debut albums although they were able to enjoy some sort of popularity on the live circuit. In spite of their relatively unsuccessful career as a band, the Velvet Underground was considered as influential to other future bands in the sense that they were one of the first bands to experiment with basic rock structures. Their works later on influenced musicians who came to become known in other musical genres including punk, New Wave, experimental and gothic rock.