FOLLOW US ON: follow us in feedly
GET THE NEWSLETTER
CONTACT US
Banana: After 50 years the ultimate Warhol Velvet Underground mystery is finally (almost) solved!!

ufghdrtb
 
It was fifty years ago this week that the future began with the Velvet Underground, Andy Warhol, and his banana. The destruction and rebuilding of rock ‘n’ roll music as it then existed commenced. This was all taking place even though only a few people knew about it at the time. The right few, as always. I have to think that anyone reading this knows the history of the Velvet Underground so I’m not going to rehash it here.

In the thirty years since Warhol’s death, the human race has bought and sold more “Andy” than Andy himself could possibly have dreamed of and more. Much more. Too much even. Year after year there are more Warhol books, toys, giant banana pillows, clothing lines, shoes, Andy Warhol glasses, movies, action figures (or maybe inaction figures, this being Warhol), pencils, notebooks, skateboards—literally everything ever! There’s been more most post mortem Warhol merchandising than for practically anyone or anything you can name. Even more than for Elvis, Marilyn or James Dean who had head starts.

Warhol and his entourage were infamous speedfreaks—speedfreaks with cameras, tape recorders, and movie gear who talked a lot and didn’t sleep much—and his every utterance was recorded, long before museums, historical posterity and millions of dollars were the reasons.

With the advent of the Warhol Museum, Andy’s every movement, thought, and influence has been discussed, dissected, filed and defiled ad nauseum. Every single piece of art he ever did can be traced back to an original page in a newspaper, an ad in the back of a dirty magazine, a photograph, a Sunday comic, or an item from a supermarket shelf and they’ve ALL been identified and cataloged.

Except for one.

Just one.

Probably the second most popular of Warhol’s images, standing in line right behind the Campbell’s soup can, is the banana image found on the cover of the first Velvet Underground album. Thee banana! But where did it come from? Everything else was appropriated from somewhere. What about this one?

I KNOW where it came from and I have known for around thirty years. Oddly enough it only just now occurred to me (when I looked up Warhol’s death date) that I found this thing, which I am about to describe, mere weeks before Andy’s untimely demise.
 
ggnhlubfd
 
I grew up in the sixties and I’ve loved the Velvet Underground since even before the advent of punk. And I love Andy Warhol, too. Just look at my Facebook profile photo. I have shelves of books on Warhol and all things Velvets and have amassed quite a collection of Warhol and Velvets rarities. My favorite book of all time is Andy Warhol’s Index from 1966, a children’s pop-up book filled with drag queens, the Velvets, 3-D soup cans and even a Flexi disc record with Lou Reed’s face on it with a recording of the Velvet Underground listening to a test pressing of their first LP. The one with the BANANA.
 
dvbjcdg
The author’s Facebook profile pic. Duh.
 
Andy Warhol’s number one right-hand man in the sixties and the person who turned the Factory silver (among many many other things including being the primary photographer of the Factory’s “silver years”) was Billy Name (Linich). An online comment described him this way:

You can’t get more inside than Billy Name in Warhol’s Factory world. In fact he lived in the Factory - and to be more specific he lived in the bathroom at the Factory - and to be even more specific he stayed in the locked bathroom without coming out for months (years?).

 
And so to quote this definitive “insider” Billy Name on the history of the banana:

...bananas had been a Warhol theme earlier in the Mario Montez feature film Harlot mostly as a comedic phallic symbol. In the general hip culture, Donovan’s “Mellow Yellow” was going on [mellow yellow; roast banana peels in an oven, and then roll and smoke them]. The high was called “mello yellow.”

The specific banana image Andy chose came from I know not where; it’s not a Chiquita banana or Dole fruit company, because Andy’s banana has ‘overripe’ markings on it, and the fruit companies use whole yellow bananas on their stickers. Anyway, Andy first used this particular banana image for a series of silk-screen prints which he screened on white, opaque, flexible, Plexiglass (sort of like 2 feet x 5 feet). First an image of the inner banana “meat” was screened on the Plexi in pink, and then covered by the outer skin screened on and cut out of a glossy yellow sticky-back roll of heavy commercial paper (ordered from some supply warehouse). Thereby each banana could be peeled and the meat exposed and the skin could be replaced a number of times, ‘til the sticky stuff wore out. Naturally this was intentionally erotic Warhol-type art.

When thinking of a cover for the first Velvets album, it was easy for Andy to put one of his own works on the cover, knowing it was hip, outrageous, and original and would be “really great.” Andy always went the easy way, using what he had, rather than puzzling and mulling over some design elements and graphics for cover art that don’t really work. His art was already there, hip, erotic, and cool. The Plexi silk screen art definitely came first, in 1966. The album came out in ‘67. I do not recall any other design being thought of or even considered. The back of the album cover was a pastiche amalgam of photos from Andy’s films, Steven Shore, Paul Morrissey and myself and was messy and mulled over too much.

 
xfcgdvyjervs
 
So here we are on the fiftieth anniversary of The Velvet Underground & Nico and its mysterious banana cover art, and I felt that I have held this secret for way too long. I always wanted to use this in a book or something but it never happened.

This thing was hanging on my kitchen wall for three decades, in New York and LA and is now in secured storage for reasons which are about to become obvious. This is how I found it: One day in the mid 80s I was cruising around the Lower East Side aimlessly—as I had done most of my life up to that point—running into friends, looking at stuff people were selling on the street, stopping into Manic Panic, Venus Records, St. Marks Books, and any junk shops that caught my eye. There was one on Broadway that I had never seen before right down the street from Forbidden Planet and the greatest place ever, the mighty Strand Book Store. I went in and there was a lot of great stuff for me. I found some old records, a huge stash of outrageous and disgusting tabloid newspapers from the sixties which I kept buying there for a couple months afterward, and some cool old knick-knacks. I knocked into something on a crowded table full of junk and heard a big CLANG on the cement floor. I bent down to pick it up. It was one of those cheap triangular tin ashtrays that usually advertised car tires or something mundane. I picked it up (it was face down) and when I turned it over I was surprised to see…THE BANANA!!

It was an ad for bananas printed on a cheap metal ashtray.
 

Don’t you like a banana? ENJOY BANANA. Presented by WING CORP. designed by LEO KONO production”

 
I thought wow, this is cool! But over time I realized that I had quite literally stumbled across a true missing link. I figured I’d use it for something big one day, but I never did. UNTIL NOW. Ladies and germs, Andy Warhol and Velvet Underground fans and scholars, without further ado I bring you THE MISSING LINK! A true Dangerous Minds mega exclusive! (As Jeb Bush would say “Please clap.”).

A primitive, pounding Moe Tucker drumroll please for the reveal of THEE BANANA…after the jump

READ ON
Posted by Howie Pyro
|
03.14.2017
12:01 pm
|
‘Sunday Morning’ animation celebrates ‘The Velvet Underground & Nico,’ released 50 years ago today
03.12.2017
08:37 am
Topics:
Tags:


 
When illustrator James Eads saw the morphing gifs Chris McDaniel (aka TheGlitch.og) made from his work, he described the result as not “moving so as much as breathing. My work started coming to life.” McDaniel feels that their collaboration is, for both of them, a form of meditation. He told the Creators Project:

It’s a place of refuge where we can breathe and take in the world and in return give back some peace. And I think other people can feel that, and when they come across one of these illusions they pause and allow themselves to get lost in it. There’s something extremely calming and mesmerizing about the illusions, there is magic is in the subtlety.”

Now the pair has teamed up for an animated music video for “Sunday Morning” by the Velvet Underground and Nico.

James Eads had this to say about the piece:

“For me one of the biggest takeaways of ‘Sunday Morning’ is the relationship that Lou Reed has with time. The way something can feel so far away when it was only the night before. I wanted to play with that fluidity of time and personify the day and the night and use their relationship to tell a simple story. Sometimes the subtleties of change make it hard to see how quickly time passes by, but the stark brightness of the morning contrasting a night of intoxication can create a strangely sobering yet nostalgic feeling. It’s almost as if within the first few minutes of waking up on ‘Sunday Morning’ there is a haze of hopefulness of a life ahead before reality sets in.”

This Sunday morning, with it being Daylight Savings Time, things might seem a little hazier than normal for some of us…

The Velvet Underground & Nico with its iconic peeling banana album cover designed by Andy Warhol came out fifty years ago today.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger
|
03.12.2017
08:37 am
|
John Cale will perform ‘The Velvet Underground & Nico’ live in New York and Liverpool
10.26.2016
12:16 pm
Topics:
Tags:


 
Velvet Underground bassist/violaist John Cale performed a moody, arty solo take on his band’s already moody and arty debut album, The Velvet Underground & Nico, last spring in Paris. That epochal album will turn 50 this coming spring, and Cale will celebrate by performing it again, on May 26 at Liverpool, England’s docklands, and in New York City on a date/venue yet to be announced. Quoted in The Quietus, Cale offered:

I’m often reluctant to spend too much time on things past, then a time marker shows up — The Velvet Underground & Nico turns 50. As so many bands can attest to, it is the fulfilment of the ultimate dream to record your first album. We were an unfriendly brand, dabbling in a world of challenging lyrics and weird sonics that didn’t fit into anyone’s playlist at the time.

Remaining ferociously true to our viewpoints, Lou and I never doubted for a moment we could create something to give a voice to things not regularly explored in rock music at the time. That bizarre combination of four distinctly disparate musicians and a reluctant beauty queen perfectly summed up what it meant to be The Velvet Underground.

Tickets for the Liverpool show will go on sale Friday, October 28. For a taste of what to expect, here are a few of clips from the Paris show last spring, including Saul Williams guesting on “Heroin,” Mark Lanegan singing “All Tomorrow’s Parties,” and Lou Doillon singing “Femme Fatale.” Hopefully that all happens again at the New York show.

More after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Ron Kretsch
|
10.26.2016
12:16 pm
|
ONO covers the Velvet Underground on an art museum loading dock
08.25.2016
11:55 am
Topics:
Tags:


 
This blog has covered the legendary Chicago underground psych/performance group ONO before but a recap is in order anyway: musician P. Micheal Grego and mononymous singer/shaman Travis formed their theatrical anti-rock band in 1980, toiling in arty obscurity until throwing in the towel in 1986. Two decades later, they re-formed the band after interest in their two LPs Machines that Kill People and Ennui unexpectedly boomed. Since 2012, they’re released three new albums, and they finally toured outside Chicago in 2014.

They continue to tour today, with a greatly expanded membership that includes connections to other quality Chicago concerns like Tiger Hatchery and even Ministry. Travis has swapped his trademark dreadlocks for a clean-shaven dome and a brilliant white beard, and sports luminous white clothing to match—often wedding dresses. He’s a captivating sight; there a pitifully few frontmen as engaging and just plain watchable as Travis.

Last week, the band appeared in a concert on the loading docks of Cleveland, OH’s Museum of Contemporary Art, part of a far-too-short concert series that ends tomorrow night with a performance by concrète masters Form A Log. They shared the bill with a marvelous interactive dance performance by Space Beach and some jaw-dropping microtonal math rock from Baltimore’s Horse Lords, but ONO can’t really help but completely steal any show they appear on. Please enjoy my phone-cam footage of a delightful surprise they unleashed, a wonderfully droney nine-minute cover of the Velvet Underground’s “All Tomorrow’s Parties,” an apt choice for a band whose singer favors hand-me-down gowns.
 

 

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
ONO: Vintage footage of the freaked-out ‘anti-music’ Chicago avant garde legends
Ministry’s Al Jourgensen guests on the new single by ONO: A DM premiere

Posted by Ron Kretsch
|
08.25.2016
11:55 am
|
Sucking on a ding-dong (for twelve minutes): The blowjob edit of ‘Sister Ray’
07.26.2016
10:37 am
Topics:
Tags:


 
This twelve-and-a-half minute edit of the Velvet Underground’s classic “Sister Ray” distills the entirety of that song to one of its more memorable lines: “Too busy sucking on a ding dong/She’s busy sucking on my ding dong.”

The seventeen minute one-riff wonder was conceived on a train ride home from a bad gig, and in its recorded form it takes up most of side two of White Light/White Heat. Its lyrics comprise a laundry list of debauchery in which a handful of drag queens and sailors score and take drugs. Someone gets shot, someone else gets a blowjob, and the cops show up. It’s undiluted insanity, and some of the most glorious noise the ‘60s ever produced. Per V.U. singer/honcho Lou Reed, quoted by biographer Victor Bockris in Up-Tight: The Velvet Underground Story:

When it came to putting the music to it, it had to be spontaneous. The jam came about right there in the studio. We didn’t use any splices or anything. I had been listening to a lot of Cecil Taylor and Ornette Coleman, and wanted to get something like that with a rock & roll feeling. When we did “Sister Ray”, we turned up to ten flat out, leakage all over the place. That’s it. They asked us what we were going to do. We said “We’re going to start.” They said “Who’s playing bass?” We said “There is no bass.” They asked us when it ends. We didn’t know. When it ends, that’s when it ends.

Since the improvised song, minus solo breaks, is basically one riff, the “Ding Dong” edit is hardly distinguishable from the original if you’ve got it going in the background, which won my laugh. Also, I must note that “Smack Daniels,” the YouTube user who uploaded (and presumably made) this unleashed it to the world in early November of 2013, shortly after Lou Reed died. There were a lot of extremely weird tributes to the man—which of course is perfectly fitting—but I think this one kind of wins, and I wish I knew about it when it was new.
 

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
‘Lou Believers’: Sonic Youth in the weirdest Lou Reed ‘tribute’ you’ll ever see
Cranky Lou Reed interview from 1975 is full of hilariously nasty gems
Lou Reed and Brian Eno, together at last: it’s ‘Metal Machine Music For Airports’

Posted by Ron Kretsch
|
07.26.2016
10:37 am
|
‘New Madness at the Discothèque’: Velvet Underground in LIFE magazine exposé of 1966’s groovy scene
06.03.2016
11:56 am
Topics:
Tags:


 
Issues of LIFE magazine from the mid- to late ‘60s can be a real trip, because they didn’t flinch from the changes happening in Western society during that time. True to its mandate, LIFE forthrightly addressed the rise of the drug culture, shocking new fashions, and the war in Vietnam, among many other topics that would have given the average reader in small-town America occasion for wonderment and concern.

The November 26, 1965, issue is commonly cited as a turning point—LIFE put on its cover a shocking photograph of a blindfolded Viet Cong prisoner being held by Marines, under the headline “The Blunt Reality of War in Vietnam.”

Just a few months later, in the May 27, 1966, issue, LIFE took a look at the groovalicious occurrences to be found in the discotheques across the country. The cover headline ran “New Madness at the Discothèque” but inside the story boasted the even more delightful headline “Wild New Flashy Bedlam of the Discothèque.”

I’m not 100% sure of this, but I suspect that the use of the French word discothèque would have been quite a bit weirder to U.S. audiences of that moment, than it is now—in other words its deployment represented a subtle bid to shock and discomfort the magazine’s staider readers.

The article in question was really a photo essay and therefore no writer was credited, even though the pictures are accompanied by generous captions. Since the story covered dance clubs in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, LIFE relied on a team of photographers that consisted of Steve Schapiro, T. Tanuma, Yale Joel, Declan Haun, and John Zimmerman.
 

The Exploding Plastic Inevitable play the Trip, May 1966
 
The first photo in the spread, on the top of p. 72, actually shows an unnamed Lou Reed and Co. playing a club called the Trip in Los Angeles, mentioned in the caption as the Exploding Plastic Inevitable under the aegis of Andy Warhol. The Velvet Underground actually were slated to play the Trip from May 3-18 but the sheriff’s dept. closed the joint down after the May 5 show. The article mentions none of that, interestingly.

Here’s a poster advertising that run at the Trip. Jim Morrison was apparently there on opening night. VU’s openers were the Mothers of Invention, but there was some evident friction between the two bands, and a local act called the Doors was apparently considered as a replacement for the Mothers’ slot, but it never happened.

The biggest club in the new scene, according to the piece, was called Arthur in New York, which was named after a quip from A Hard Day’s Night and was located at 154 East 54th Street. It was founded by Richard Burton’s first wife.

Other clubs mentioned in the piece were Bob Goldstein’s Lightworks lab (at the time he was going by “Bobb Goldsteinn”), which was based out of the Village; Cheetah at Broadway & 53rd, which Howie Pyro looked at for DM two years ago; the pulsating Le Bison in Chicago; and an enormous venue called The World, which was converted from an airplane hangar located in Garden City, New York.

In his book The Last Party: Studio 54, Disco, and the Culture of the Night Anthony Haden-Guest provides an interesting account of Le Bison’s signature attraction, “the Translator,” which
 

coded music into electrical pulses that activated a flashing light system. You could say that Ferri was fulfilling a project of the Decadents of the nineteenth century, who had dreamed of sense swapping. In one of Rimbaud’s poems each vowel was a color, and the Marquis d’ Esseintes, the hero of a novel by Joris-Karl Huysmans, would inhale scents as though they were a symphony. The “Translator” made ear-to-eye transactions, turning thumping sound into fractious light for the new decadence.

 
More groovy LIFE in the 1960s, after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Martin Schneider
|
06.03.2016
11:56 am
|
Vintage 1970s Warhol / Velvet Underground-inspired banana record player
02.10.2016
08:30 am
Topics:
Tags:


 
Over on Etsy, there’s a Warhol/Velvet Underground-inspired portable banana-shaped record player from the 1970s for sale. The asking price is $1500. That seems a bit steep to me, but truth be told, I’ve never seen one of these before. They must be pretty scarce!

From the write-up on Etsy:

Ok, folks. I bought this record player because the time to buy something you have never seen is when you see it. And I am a huge Warhol fan. At the time, I could find no information on this. A friend was able to find this old advertising for it in an old Speigel catalog. In searching the internet, there are only 2 of these known. There is one in Indianapolis that a guy has from his youth- a present from his grandmother. The other one is in the Banana Museum in California. I even wrote to the Warhol Foundation to find out if there was any kind of affiliation, but they had never heard anything about this and had no record. They came up with the same information I did. Mine is not perfect, it shows wear and I cannot determine if the black markings on this have been redone or if they are original- looking at the picture in the ad, it is still hard to tell, but they look rough to me. I still love this. It runs properly at all 3 speeds, but it will need a needle. The cord is in good condition and the case locks as it should. The ad touts that this will play in any position, even upside-down, but I would not suggest such a thing, as it cannot be good for your records.

If you’re interested in it or want to contact seller, click here.


 

 
More after the jump…
 

READ ON
Posted by Tara McGinley
|
02.10.2016
08:30 am
|
‘Loaded’: The Velvet Underground in 5.1 surround, win a free box set from Rhino
11.03.2015
12:05 pm
Topics:
Tags:


 
Here’s the TL;DR version: If you are an aficionado of 5.1 surround music, run, do not walk, to buy the new Velvet Underground Loaded: Re-Loaded 45th Anniversary Edition box set NOW. Don’t hesitate. It’s fucking amazing.

For readers who want a more considered review, read on. Full disclosure, this is a sponsored post, but I can promise you that what you’re reading is 100% the way I really feel.

I had been very, very anxious to hear the newly reloaded Velvet Underground Loaded: Re-Loaded 45th Anniversary Edition box set. I’m a big fan of surround music and I am a big fan of the Velvet Underground, so the idea that I would get to hear Loaded, one of my favorite albums of all time in 5.1 surround seemed too good to be true. I recently moved and made a point not to set up my audio system until I had said VU box set in hand. I wanted it to be the first thing I listened to in the new place. For days I watched the mail like a hungry hawk. It arrived late yesterday morning. Around 5pm, I started setting up my audio system, calibrated everything for the new room it was in, etc., and then just as I was about to toke up, sit down and listen, the amp went into protection mode, shut down and an error message told me to “check speaker wires.” Shit!

It took me five incredibly annoying hours of troubleshooting until I found the culprit, a tiny splinter of barely visible copper wiring that was touching between two poles on one of the speakers. I had to remove it with tweezers it was so small. In any case, I mention this because while I was removing the speakers and adding them back in one at time to figure out the source of my problem, starting with the center speaker, I was playing the 5.1 surround mix of Loaded and it was very interesting to hear the component parts of an album that I thought I was molecularly familiar with in that new way.
 

 
And that’s the point of 5.1 surround audio, to hear something “classic” with fresh ears, like you’re hearing it for the first time. Well, I just listened to it twice this morning, all the way through, and here are my initial thoughts. As it would be pointless for me to “expound” on Loaded and try to come up with something new and profound to say about it, I won’t insult my reader’s intelligence, because honestly who cares what I think about this classic? (I don’t care what you think either.) I just wanted to give my opinion of “the product” here.

So on the count of “hearing something old again with fresh ears,” they certainly did right by Loaded. The mixes, done by Kevin Reeves at Republic/4th Floor Studios in New York, are very well realized and he’s made some choices—very good ones, creatively, I hasten to add—that I think many a producer would not have made. There’s somewhat of an orthodoxy when it comes to mixing for 5.1 that some mixers fall into—favoring the fronts is how I’d put it—that Reeves wisely avoids. Lou Reed and Doug Yule’s lead vocal tracks are pushed up high in the mix, making Yule’s voice sound more innocent, for instance, while Reed’s vocals are so well presented here that you can practically hear the spittle spraying the microphone. Nuance galore is revealed. The lead vocals often appear “bare” in the center speakers, but other than that, Reeves really endeavored to truly “surround” the listener. The Association meets street corner doo wop backing vocals are given a full sonic spread. The wall of guitars in “Rock and Roll” is MIND-BLOWING coming at you from all sides. “Sweet Jane” sounds so damned crisp and you’re right smack in the middle of it. I thought it was a thrilling ride from start to finish. By the time it ended with “Oh Sweet Nuthin’” I felt like I was listening to the saddest song of all time. (I’ve always loved that song, but hearing it in 5.1 was like a religious experience.)

Best archival release of the year so far, hands down (and I haven’t even listened to anything other than the 5.1 mix so far). If you’re a Velvets nut and into 5.1 surround, this is what you want for Christmas... if you can wait that long.

Or you can try to win one from Rhino:
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger
|
11.03.2015
12:05 pm
|
Hear the ‘Sweet Jane’ demo from the new Velvet Underground box set, a Dangerous Minds exclusive
10.28.2015
11:48 am
Topics:
Tags:


 
It’s only a matter of days before the new six disc Loaded: Re-Loaded 45th Anniversary Edition box set of the 1970 Velvet Underground classic comes out. I’ve been bugging the label about getting a copy of this hefty sucker—which includes demos, the Live at Max’s Kansas City show remastered and another set from the Second Fret in Philadelphia, plus, for the first time ever, a 5.1 surround remix of Loaded, which frankly I am salivating to hear.

Here’s a previously unreleased version of “Sweet Jane”—it’s an early take of the song from disc three of the box set. It starts out slow and tenuous, as if Reed is teaching the song to the rest of the group for the first time, but soon he starts feeling the… power, I guess, of his song and it starts to take flight. In a 2005 interview, band member Doug Yule revealed that the song’s signature riff wasn’t arrived at until right before they recorded it. Certainly they were nowhere near that place at this stage of the song’s development.
 

 
We’ll have a full review of Loaded: Re-Loaded 45th Anniversary Edition in a few days, in the meantime, this should tide you over.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger
|
10.28.2015
11:48 am
|
Intimate photos of Andy Warhol’s Factory Superstars, the Velvet Underground and Nico
09.30.2015
12:51 pm
Topics:
Tags:


1966
 
I wonder how many people in the world had a romance with Andy Warhol and also combined that with being a significant influence on Warhol’s work. You make your list and I’ll make mine, but we shouldn’t discount the possibility that that list will start and end with Billy Name. Born William Linich, Jr., Name was a prominent lighting designer in NYC and even won an Obie for his lighting around the time he met Warhol, which was in 1959.

He had a brief romance with Warhol which evolved into a long-lasting friendship and collaboration. Name was selected to be the archivist for the Factory. At one point Warhol handed him a camera and said, “Here, Billy, you do the stills photography,” and Name’s identity as a photographer was born. By that time, Name had already gone ahead and “silverized” a dilapidated hat factory on East 47th Street, transforming it into one of the most iconic places of the late 1960s. In The Warhol Diaries, Warhol said of Name that he “had a manner that inspired confidence. He gave the impression of being generally creative, he dabbled in lights and papers and artists materials. ... I picked up a lot from Billy.”

Today at the Serena Morton II gallery at 345 Ladbroke Grove in London starts an exhibition of Name’s Warhol-era photos called “Billy Name: The Silver Age” that runs for roughly three weeks. There is a lovely associated book with the same title that came out last year from Reel Art Press, and if you want to hear some eye-popping blurbs, check these two out: Gerard Malanga said that “Billy’s book will go down in history as the best book about Warhol,” whereas Warhol himself said, “Billy’s photos were the only thing that ever came close to capturing the feel of the 1960s Silver Factory.”

The Guardian recently interviewed Name, now 75, at the Mid-Regional Hospital in his hometown of Poughkeepsie (where I attended college, as it happens) for “extreme dehydration” along with a host of other ailments. All of us at DM wish him a speedy recovery.

All of the pictures in this post you can see in a larger version by clicking on them.
 

Warhol using a pay phone at the 1964 World’s Fair
 

Nico, 1967
 

Warhol in the original Factory studio, 1964
 

VU, 1967
 
A bunch more masterful Billy Name shots after the jump…...
 

READ ON
Posted by Martin Schneider
|
09.30.2015
12:51 pm
|
Pre-Velvet Underground Nico in Spanish brandy advertisements, 1964
09.14.2015
02:10 pm
Topics:
Tags:


 
These Centenario Terry brandy ad, made for Spanish TV, dates back to 1964 and feature a young and impossibly beautiful Christa Päffgen who would soon go on to join the Velvet Underground at the behest of Andy Warhol.

Years later we have this entry from Andy Warhol’s Diary on Monday October 6th, 1980:

“Went to C.Z. Guest’s for drinks. A guy there told me, “We have someone in common.” He said that his family owned all the brandy and sherry in Spain and that in the sixties Nico was the girl in all their advertisements in all the posters and subways and magazines, that she was famous all over Spain. He wanted to know where this beautiful girl was now and I said that it was a whole other person, that he’d never believe it, that she was fat and a heroin addict. He wanted to see her and I said that if she was still playing at the Squat Theatre we could go see her.”

There used to be a few more of these ads on YouTube, but most seemed to have vanished.
 

 
The actor here, Hans Meyer was apparently closely associated with this particular brand of cognac.
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger
|
09.14.2015
02:10 pm
|
Velvet Underground: New box set FINALLY releases legendary scorching live material from 1969
09.10.2015
02:26 pm
Topics:
Tags:


 
You would think that by now—after fifty years—the cupboard would be getting pretty bare when it comes to unreleased Velvet Underground material, but that’s simply not the case. Despite the incredible amount of material made available for the first time on legit releases in recent years via UMe’s Super Deluxe packages, there is still even more to come. And not just a little, but a lot of primo vintage VU white light, white heat recorded in high fidelity.

First off, the Super Deluxe Loaded is out on October 30th, but on that very same day Polydor will be released something VU fans have been salivating over for years, a four CD box set of The Matrix Tapes. Forty-two songs were known to exist, recorded during the Matrix run on 4-track half-inch open reel tape running at 15ips and this will be the first release of all of these live recordings (many were included on the 1969 Live double album and the Super Deluxe set of the third VU album). Samples of the songs (which fade out midway) have been seen on bootleg torrent trackers and audio blogs for years and the quality was known to be very, very high. The story that circulated about them is that the original audio engineer who taped them sold the physical tapes to an Italian collector, who we can presume made a deal with the label to put it out.

Velvet Underground historian Richie Unterberger writes:

Two-to-three-minute excerpts of nine of these tracks and a seven-minute excerpt of “Sister Ray”—all starting at the beginning of the songs, and fading out mid-performance—that have leaked into circulation verify that the sound quality on these recordings is outstanding, and notably (though not hugely) superior to the tapes used on 1969 Velvet Underground Live. Of even more interest, the performances themselves are good-to-superb, including a version of the rarely-heard “There She Goes Again” with noticeably more jagged rhythm guitar than the studio cut; “I’m Set Free” with magnificent Reed lead vocals; a really slowed-down “I’m Waiting for the Man” with great curling blues guitar riffing, and a cool interjection of ominously stroked chords right after the white boy’s asked what he’s doing uptown; and a “Sister Ray” that starts off super-slow and bluesy, but just keeps accelerating in rhythm and intensity until the tape cruelly cuts off. If not quite as novel, the other excerpts—including “Ocean,” “Some Kinda Love” (introduced as “an alcoholic’s dream”), “The Black Angel’s Death Song,” “After Hours,” and two versions of “Venus in Furs”—likewise make the Velvet Underground fan yearn for the day when these tapes can be released.

And now they will be. The thing that pisses me off is that they have gorgeous multitrack recordings of the freaking Velvet Underground playing live, so why didn’t they do a surround mix???

The setlists, after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Richard Metzger
|
09.10.2015
02:26 pm
|
‘Moe Gets Tied Up,’ Andy Warhol’s ultra-rare 1966 movie starring the Velvet Underground
06.25.2015
10:16 am
Topics:
Tags:


 
A very, very seldom-seen Andy Warhol movie, called Moe Gets Tied Up or, alternatively, Moe in Bondage, is up on YouTube, and it has had a scant 89 views as I type. While this Velvet Underground footage is not quite as much fun as A Symphony of Sound, Warhol’s must-see film of a VU and Nico rehearsal jam—mainly since there’s no music in this one—boy, it sure is seldom encountered. Shot in 1966, it predates their once-despised, now-lionized debut, The Velvet Underground & Nico.

The “Moe” of the title is the Velvets’ drummer, Maureen Tucker, whose bandmates have tied her to a chair and are now hanging around nibbling on sandwiches and pieces of fruit. It is sure to disappoint the pain fetishists among you. Look at it this way: if you’d never heard “Venus in Furs,” this film might give you the impression that the Velvets’ sex kicks consisted not so much of S&M as benign neglect.

Very little information is available about this movie because so few people have seen it, but the 32-minute version below seems to be missing a large chunk. A Velvet Underground filmography claims that the original is “a two-reel set for double screen projection” and notes the existence of “35-minute unofficial video copies,” one of which is likely the source of this vid. When MoMA screened Moe Gets Tied Up in 2008, the Village Voice reported that it “begins with Lou Reed and Sterling Morrison tying Moe Tucker, quite inexpertly, to a chair.” Since Tucker is already tied up at the start of the video below, and since the Voice review gives the movie’s length as one hour and six minutes, I’m going to bet that this is roughly the movie’s second half. (Incidentally, the review says nothing about double screen projection.) The Voice writer, who is mysteriously identified in the byline as “Village Voice Contributor,” also complains that almost none of the movie’s dialogue is audible, so don’t blame the buzzing soundtrack of this bootleg if you can’t make out what Sterling Morrison is mumbling about sandwiches. If you really need to know what people were talking about at the Factory, you can always read a.

Now if someone could please upload Velvet Underground Tarot Cards...
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
|
06.25.2015
10:16 am
|
Amazing ‘Mod Wedding’ with Andy Warhol, the Velvet Underground & Nico, 1966
06.15.2015
12:59 pm
Topics:
Tags:


 
Picture it: You’re a steady couple in Detroit, it’s the mid-‘60s and you’re hip sort of people, and you get a chance for Andy Warhol, Nico, and the Velvet Underground to participate in your nuptials, making it the world’s first-ever “mod wedding.” What could be better?

This actually happened. The date of the wedding was November 20, 1966, and it was one of the concluding events of a three-day festival held in Detroit called the Carnaby Street Fun Festival, at which the Velvet Underground and the Yardbirds played. The lucky couple were named Gary Norris and Randi Rossi.

In 2011 some ephemera from this event I would love to get a look at were auctioned off at Christie’s, including a five-page “press release” called Pop Goes the Wedding, and an invitation to, ahem, “The Nation’s First Mod Wedding to Unite Two Typical Mod Teenagers in the Bonds of Holy Matrimony.”

In a bio of Al Abrams, the noted promoter who dreamt up the Carnaby Street Fun Fair as well as the idea of having a wedding of this type, it states that Norris and Rossi were not the first couple selected for the event: “The pair earned the chance to exchange their vows in the highly publicized ceremony after the original couple, who had won the wedding competition on the popular Detroit radio station WKNR, had to withdraw.“

Here’s Steven Watson in Factory Made: Warhol and the Sixties discussing how the event came about:
 

Perhaps the most conspicuous of [the band’s] Sixties events was a Detroit fair called the Carnaby Street Fun Festival. … As a centerpiece, a Motown publicist [almost certainly Abrams] thought up the idea of a Mod Wedding. Since Andy Warhol was “the father of Pop Art,” he became the perfect choice to play the father of the bride. A columnist for The Detroit News dug up a couple to get married—a twenty-five-year-old clothing salesman and his nineteen-year-old, unemployed go-go dancer girlfriend. While Gary Norris and Randi Rossi were married before a crowd of forty-five hundred, the Velvet Underground played “Here Comes the Bride,” and a roadie pounded on a car with a sledgehammer. After the ceremony Andy signed some Campbell’s Soup cans and threw them into the crowd, and he and the bride cut the six-foot cake with a sword. “It would be in better taste if you had those people throwing up on each other,” Dick Clark told the event’s organizer.

 

 
Reaction at the time had more than its share of eye-rolling disgust. This account by Linda La Marre appeared in The Detroit News the next day; in addition to being pretty well written, it achieves a mocking, derisive tone I’ve seldom encountered in a news story before. The article can be found in Clinton Heylin’s essential compendium All Yesterdays’ Parties: The Velvet Underground in Print, 1966-1971.
 

“Mother’s Mod Lament”

by Linda La Marre

The Detroit News, November 21, 1966

Holy matrimony was replaced by unholy pandemonium in what was billed as a wedding yesterday at the State Fairgrounds Coliseum.

It was a marriage in the Mod Tradition. The country’s first. And let’s hope it’s not what’s happening, baby.

Wearing a white minigown, eight inches over her knees and white, thigh-high boots, Randy Rossi, 18, became the bride of clothing salesman Gary Norris, 25, amid a melange of simultaneous “happenings.”

Andy Warhol, of soup can painting fame and the “father of Pop art,” arrived from New York to give away the bride. With him came his rock & roll group, the Velvet Underground, vocalist Nico, and the Exploding Plastic Inevitable, Warhol’s gaudy lighting effects.

Some 4,500 shaggy-haired wedding guests swarmed the arena for the prenuptial rituals. Electronic devices screamed, guitars and drums throbbed and a fiddle added to the din as ppurple and orange lights splashed dots and squares across the stage.

“Hey, we’re really witnessing something, it’s history, history!” a young girl shouted.

Huddled on the sidelines were the bride’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Rossi of Mt. Clemens, the bridegroom’s mother, Mrs. Thelma Norris, of Taylor, his sister and brother-in-law, the Robert Wionceks, of Dearborn.

“It’s not the kind of wedding we had planned for our daughter,” Mrs. Rossi said, as eerie screeches emitted from the stage.

“He’s old enough to know his own mind,” Mrs. Norris added, while Nico, clad in a lavender pantsuit, cupped the mike in both hands and began moaning some song.

After an eternity of noise, a black Rolls-Royce with the bridal couple slowly backed into the arena. The pair wisely chose to stay inside the car a few moments.

Warhol’s psychedelic sounds, which seek to create the same illusion as mind-expanding drugs, succeeded.

Gerard [Malanga], the whip dancer, slithered and spun across the darkened stage. Another member of the cast hopped atop a wrecked DeSoto, bashing it with a sledge hammer.

“If I take to love, will I find you gone,” groaned Nico. Warhol ascended the platform, paint bucket and catsup bottles in hand. Contents of both containers were carefully applied to a girl wearing a white paper dress throughout the proceedings.

The bride smiled as she marched up the platform steps. The bridegroom wore a gray checked, Beatle-type suit, black boots, green and white flowered tie. He looked sober.

The couple volunteered for the Mod wedding, which concluded the three-day Carnaby Street Fun Festival. Their reward, a free honeymoon in New York and screen test with Warhol.

After giving away the bride Warhol sat serenely upon a box of tomato soup, autographing cans. A color film of Nico’s face flickered on and off the back curtains as she read a few appropriate, but indistinguishable sentences from a yellow book.

Another member of the cast paraded with a five-foot Baby Ruth candy bar balloon, Warhol’s gift to the newlyweds.

 
My favorite bit in there is La Marre’s description of the music: “Nico, clad in a lavender pantsuit, cupped the mike in both hands and began moaning some song…..”

This online forum on VU supplies a detail that nobody else I consulted had. La Marre reports that Warhol gave the bride away, but on this forum, a user named “taxine” asserts that Nico officiated the wedding. I’m not sure if she did or didn’t, but the photo taxine supplied seems to bear it out. The quality could be a little better, but this sure as heckfire looks to me like Warhol giving the bride away while Nico officiates:
 

 
Rob Jovanovic’s Seeing the Light: Inside the Velvet Underground furnishes an illuminating quotation from Moe Tucker that clarifies the identity of the man with the sledgehammer: “That was lunacy. ... We were playing but [Paul] Cézanne was recruited to beat the hell out of a car with a sledge hammer, during the ceremony and during our set. I don’t know what the significance was!”

Jovanovic suggests that the Yardbirds also played the wedding and covered “I’m Waiting for the Man.” The Yardbirds did play all three days of the Carnaby Street Fun Festival, but nobody else mentions the detail of the Yardbirds playing the wedding—I think what actually happened is that the Yardbirds played the festival and during at least one of their sets (six sets, two per day) they played “I’m Waiting for the Man,” but they weren’t playing the wedding and didn’t cover the song at the wedding per se. At least that’s the impression this chronology gives.

Here are a few more pics, including a great action shot of Cézanne destroying the car with a sledgehammer.
 

 

 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider
|
06.15.2015
12:59 pm
|
Lou Reed, John Cale and Nico have a Velvet Underground reunion on French TV, 1972
04.01.2015
05:25 pm
Topics:
Tags:


 
Although I’ve posted about this show in the past, there was never a full version of it on YouTube in decent quality that I could embed, just bits and bobs, but this morning, looking for something else entirely I came across it and wanted to share on the blog. In 1972, Velvet Underground alumni Lou Reed, John Cale and Nico reunited before the cameras of the POP 2 TV program at Le Bataclan, a well-known—and very intimate—Parisian music venue. It was Cale’s gig originally and he invited Reed and Nico to join him. Reed, who hated rehearsing, spent two days with Cale working out what they were going to do. According to Victor Bockris’ Reed biography Transformer, rock critic Richard Robinson videotaped these rehearsals, which took place in London.
 

 
Both the TV broadcast and just the audio from the show and the soundcheck have been heavily bootlegged over the decades. A legit CD release happened a few years ago, but it still sounds like a bootleg. A high quality video turned up on various torrent trackers and bootleg blogs after a rebroadcast on French TV a few years back. It’s fairly easy to find. Now if only some of the outtakes from the Le Bataclan filming would slip out—they did “Black Angel’s Death Song” that night which I’d dearly love to see—not to mention what Richard Robinson is alleged to have!
 

 
This is Reed coming off his first solo record and just a few months before he recorded “Walk on the Wild Side” with David Bowie and Mick Ronson and took on a totally different public—and we can presume, private—persona. This is “Long Island Lou” seen just before Reed’s druggy bisexual alter-ego showed up. Cale is heard doing “Ghost Story” from his Vintage Violence album and Nico looks stunning and happy here singing “Femme Fatale.” It’s before the damage of her drug addiction took its toll on her looks.

More after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Richard Metzger
|
04.01.2015
05:25 pm
|
Page 1 of 4  1 2 3 >  Last ›