"The Velet Underground had started rehersing in one part of the loft, just before we got a mixed media road show together and started our cross country in 1963. It seemed like everything was starting then."

- Andy Warhol from The Philosophy of Andy Warhol.

Warhol smashed modernist conventions of how art should be displayed by mixing it with other art forms on a daily basis, but when The Velvet Underground was introduced to him: music. It not the music of high culture either, but the lowest common denominator: rock and roll. The Velvet Underground was a band composed of Lou Reed on the guitar and originally as the vocals, John Cale alternately on bass, organ, and electric violin, Sterling Morrison on guitar, Maureen Tucker on drums and after they began their association with Warhol in 1965 though the insistence of factory film producer Paul Morrisey, he also suggested that the band add another member, Nico, an extremely popular European model.

The Velvets began rehearsing in the factory and Warhol became enamored with their style telling Lou Reed that the velvets did the same with their music as Andy did with his art, and he began to add their music to his films and exhibitions. Warhol also toured in 1966 accompanying The Velvet Underground on concerts and to the multimedia event, "The Exploding Plastic Inevitable" which was a combination performance by the Velvets and a 70-minute silent film Warhol had made entitled The Velvet Underground and Nico: A Symphony of Sound. Of course, the show inevitably expanded to include lights, dancers, slides, and strobes creating a true multimedia experience. Warhol truly felt this combination was ground breaking and next wanted to record an album. As Warhol put it, "We all knew something revolutionary was happening. We just felt it. Things couldn't look this strange and new without some barrier being broken."

The result was the initial E.P. The Velvet Underground and Nico for which Warhol crossed over mediums again and did the famous album cover art, a yellow banana that peeled off to reveal a flesh colored banana inside. The album was bought by the Verve label (mostly because of the Warhol name connection) but did poorly initially. By 1967 The Velvets had ended their association with Warhol. John Cale went on to produce music inspired by the Warhol films Eat and Kiss, but Andy's association with the Velvets had mostly ended. The experience left an impression on Warhol though, and he continued to experiment with mediums and new techniques constantly expanding the concept of art and its boundaries.

For sound clips adn album covers from The Velvet Underground, click here.

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Bibliography