Clockwise from left: Nico, Reed, Morrison, Cale, and Tucker
The Velvet Underground first started up in New York City in the 60's with founding members Lou Reed and John Cale. Joined by by Sterling Morrison and Maureen "Moe" Tucker, the group was then discovered by Andy Warhol in 1965. At this time Warhol was trying to make himself an artist unlike those before him. Wanting to do more than just paint, he made himself a brand name and dabbled in print, movies and music. So he recruited the Velvet Underground for his multimedia roadshow, Exploding Plastic Inevitable. Warhol secured them a recording contract with MGM's Verve Records and urged them to work with the German singer, Nico. And so, their first album was released in 1967, The Velvet Underground & Nico, with the famous banana cover art done by Warhol, himself.
The first album was only somewhat successful back them, and the band broke with Warhol and Nico before their second album, White Light/White Heat in 1968. This album still featured their harsh, raw, and over-saturated sound, but was also only mildly successful. After these two albums, the band slowly fell apart, losing members and losing its signature sound. More albums were released, but the band was only a remnant of what it once was. While they might have not been the most famous when actually together, the band has since received the fame they deserved. They were cited by David Bowie as an influence, and Rolling Stone named The Velvet Underground & Nico the 13th "Greatest Album of All Time" in 2003, and the Velvet Underground ranked 19th in the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time" the next year. This month's NYLON talks about the book I mentioned earlier, saying:
"If Elvis Presley is the king of rock n' roll, then the Velvet Underground are its trash-talking, cigarette-smoking renegade princes(ses)."
Lou Reed & Nico
Warhol with the band
Needless to say, they've become one of my favorite bands, and huge influence for me; inspiring me to wear more black and leather than I already do. Sometimes I really do wish I could go back to the 60's, I know that's a cliche thing to say now-a-days, but the more I find out about that time period the more amazing it is. Most of my favorite things in life have come out from that decade and around it. Living in the city in the Sixties just seems like an ideal, adventurous and amazing life. This book shows the 60's and the Velvet Underground's spirit: showing lots of photographs of the band, of Edie Sedgwick dancing around at Andy Warhol's Factory, flyers of their shows and more. This band, along with many like it, is definitely the kind of influence that I hope sticks around not only on fashion, but on music and more.
Edie Sedgwick with the band
Anyway, since you all probably came here for a more fashion-related post, here's a set I put together inspired by The Velvet Undergorund.
Alexander Wang suede jacket, Betsey Johnson floral velvet dress, Jeffrey Campbell wedge boot, Topshop striped bodysuit and velvet skater dress
image src: wehearit