The Velvet Underground

Formed 1964. Disbanded 1996.
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Lou Reed - Sweet Jane (Later Archive 2000)

Lou Reed performs Sweet Jane on Later... with Jools Holland in 2000.

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Biography

The Velvet Underground was an American rock band, active between 1964 and 1973, formed in New York City by Lou Reed and John Cale, who both went on to find success as solo artists.

Although experiencing little commercial success while together, the band is often cited by many critics as one of the most important and influential groups of the 1960s. In a 1982 interview Brian Eno made the oft-repeated statement that while the first Velvet Underground album may have sold only 30,000 copies in its early years, "everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band."

Andy Warhol managed the Velvet Underground and it was the house band at his studio, the Factory, and his Exploding Plastic Inevitable events. The provocative lyrics of some of the band's songs gave a nihilistic outlook to some of their music.

Their 1967 debut album, The Velvet Underground & Nico (which featured German singer Nico, with whom the band collaborated), was named the 13th Greatest Album of All Time, and the "most prophetic rock album ever made" by Rolling Stone in 2003. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked the band No. 19 on its list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time". The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, by Patti Smith.

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BBC Reviews

  1. Review of The Velvet Underground & Nico - 45th Anniversary Edition

    The Velvet Underground & Nico - 45th Anniversary Edition 2012

    Reviewed by Paul Whitelaw
    So many years on, The Velvets’ debut still sounds extraordinary.
  2. Review of The Velvet Underground & Nico (Deluxe Edition)

    The Velvet Underground & Nico (Deluxe Edition) 2006

    Reviewed by Chris Jones
    Here was a group that knew of the depths of perversity to which people could sink and...
  3. Review of The Very Best Of

    The Very Best Of 2003

    Reviewed by Kathy Narayan
    This album is one great big, exciting contradiction. Whatever your preconceptions of...