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Recording The Velvet Underground & Nico


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The Velvet Underground & Nico, the debut album of The Velvet Underground, was recorded in several sessions between April 1966 and January 1967. The recording took place at several studios in New York City, including Scepter Studios, where the band recorded the majority of the album, and TTG Studios in Hollywood, California, where they recorded some of the tracks.


The album was produced by Andy Warhol, who also designed the iconic cover featuring the banana sticker. Warhol's influence on the album extended beyond just the cover art. He encouraged the band to experiment with their sound and contributed to the arrangements of some of the songs.

The band members were John Cale on viola and bass, Lou Reed on guitar and vocals, Sterling Morrison on guitar, and Maureen Tucker on drums. Nico, a German model and singer, also contributed vocals to several songs on the album.

The recording process was marked by a desire to push the boundaries of rock music. The band members experimented with distortion, feedback, and unconventional song structures to create a sound that was unlike anything else being produced at the time.

One of the most famous stories about the recording of the album is that Warhol suggested that Nico sing on some of the tracks. The band was initially hesitant, but ultimately agreed. Nico's deep, monotone voice added a unique texture to songs like "Femme Fatale" and "All Tomorrow's Parties."


The recording of the album was not without its challenges. The band members were often at odds with one another, and Warhol's approach to production was unconventional. However, the result was a groundbreaking album that has gone on to become a seminal work in rock music history.

The album was not an immediate commercial success upon its release in 1967, but it has since become recognized as one of the most influential albums of all time, inspiring countless musicians and shaping the direction of rock music for years to come.


There are many stories and anecdotes about the recording sessions for The Velvet Underground & Nico album. Here are a few examples:

  • According to legend, the band was originally discovered by Andy Warhol while performing at the Café Bizarre in Greenwich Village. Warhol was immediately struck by their sound and offered to become their manager, ultimately leading to the recording of the album. However, there is some debate over whether this story is entirely accurate.

  • During the recording sessions for "Venus in Furs," the band members reportedly experimented with various sound effects to create the song's eerie atmosphere. This included running a tambourine through a distorted amplifier and using a contact microphone to capture the sound of John Cale's electric viola being scraped with a metal file.

  • There are conflicting reports about Nico's involvement with the album. Some sources suggest that she was not originally intended to be part of the project, but was brought in by Warhol to add a different dimension to the band's sound. Other sources claim that Nico was always meant to be a part of the album, and that the band was initially hesitant to work with her.

  • According to producer Tom Wilson, the band members were often difficult to work with in the studio. He recalled that they would frequently show up late for recording sessions and argue among themselves about the direction of the music. However, Wilson also noted that this tension was ultimately what made the album so powerful.

  • One of the most famous stories about the album involves the banana sticker on the cover. The original release featured a peel-off banana sticker that revealed a pink flesh-colored banana underneath. The band reportedly wanted the cover to be entirely blank, but Warhol convinced them to include the sticker as a way to add an interactive element to the packaging.

Overall, the recording sessions for The Velvet Underground & Nico were marked by experimentation, tension, and a willingness to push the boundaries of what rock music could be. The resulting album has gone on to become a landmark in music history, inspiring countless musicians and fans over the decades since its release.

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