Drawing on contributions from remaining members, contemporaneous musicians, critics, filmmakers, and the generation of artists who emerged in their wake, this definitive oral history celebrates not only the impact of The Velvet Underground but their legacy, which burns brighter than ever in the 21st century.
Rebellion always starts somewhere, and in the music world of the transgressive teen—whether it be the 1960s or the 2020s—The Velvet Underground represents ground zero.
Crystallizing the idea of the bohemian, urban, narcissistic art school gang around a psychedelic rock and roll band—a stylistic idea that evolved in the rarefied environs of Andy Warhol’s Factory—The Velvets were the first major American rock group with a mixed gender line-up. They never smiled in photographs, wore sunglasses indoors, and invented the archetype that would be copied by everyone from Sid Vicious to Bobby Gillespie. They were avant-garde nihilists, writing about drug abuse, prostitution, paranoia, and sado-masochistic sex at a time when the rest of the world was singing about peace and love. In that sense they invented punk and then some. It could even be argued that they invented modern New York.
Drawing on interviews and material relating to all major players, from Lou Reed, John Cale, Mo Tucker, Andy Warhol, Jon Savage, Nico, David Bowie, Mary Harron, and many more, award-winning journalist Dylan Jones breaks down the band’s whirlwind of subversion and, in a narrative rich in drama and detail, proves why The Velvets remain the original kings and queens of edge.
About the Author
New York Times and Sunday Times bestselling author Dylan Jones has written or edited over twenty-five books. In the Eighties, he was one of the first editors of i-D, before becoming a Contributing Editor of The Face and Editor of Arena. He spent the next decade working in newspapers - principally the Observer and the Sunday Times - before embarking on a multi-award-winning tenure at GQ. A former columnist for the Guardian and the Independent, he is a Trustee of the Hay Festival, and a peripatetic television producer. In 2012 he was awarded an OBE for services to publishing.
Praise for David Bowie: A Life
“Dylan Jones has excavated the cacophony of voices that make up a life and curated a phenomenal portrait of the artist from childhood to the final days. The witnesses who comprise this oral biography animate the pages like characters in a non-fiction novel. Damn nigh peerless.”—David Mitchell, New York Times bestselling author of Cloud Atlas
"Dylan Jones elevates the art of oral biography to a cinematic level."—Robert Greenfield, Author of S.T.P: A Journey Through America with the Rolling Stones
"Kaleidoscopic . . . Jones thoroughly and seamlessly conveys the creativity, curiosity, and velocity of a visionary."—Alan Light, Author of The Holy and the Broken and Let’s Go Crazy
"[Jones] offers his own thoughtful and insightful commentary throughout, along with fascinating observations from the interviewees . . . poignant."—Booklist (Starred Review)