The Velvet Underground

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. In 1965, MacLise was replaced by Moe Tucker, who played on most of the band's recordings. Though their integration of rock and the avant-garde resulted in little commercial success, they are now widely regarded as 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 group performed under several names before settling on the Velvet Underground in 1965, taken from the title of a 1963 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 widespread acclaim. They released three more albums: the abrasive White Light/White Heat (1968), and the more accessible albums The Velvet Underground (1969) and Loaded (1970), with Doug Yule replacing Cale for the latter two. None performed to the expectations of record labels or Reed, the band's leader. However, like the band's debut, all albums later achieved critical acclaim. 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, before the band dissolved shortly after. The former band 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, later that same year. 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".

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