AppleTV+ will air a new documentary entitled, The Velvet UndergroundExplores the highs, lows, and the funny side of the irreverent rock band that shaped New York’s avantgarde scene in the 1960s and 1970s. 

The film tells the story about Lou Reed, the band’s mercurial front man and self-destructive frontman, who teamed up with John Cale (a classically trained viola player hailing from Wales) to create their unique, nervy, and uncouth sound. 

Before Andy Warhol made the Velvet Underground his favorite project, they were misfits who were too sarcastic and alienated local dive bars in West Village.

“They had this offputting aura, you see?” Yikes, they were frightening,’ Martha Morrison, Sterling Morrison’s wife, recalls as she recalls one of their first concerts at Cafe Bizarre. 

Sonically dissonant music pinned their menacing lyrics regarding existential despair, drugs, and hedonism and the’shiny shiny boots’ of dominatrixes.

Todd Haynes directs the documentary. It also shows how the band’s early struggles to gain traction led to small commercial success, before they fell apart in a drug-induced battle of egos. Cale and Reed ended their collaboration as quickly as they began.  

A new documentary directed by Todd Haynes on AppleTV+, titled The Velvet Underground, explores the rise and fall of the polarizing band that defined New York's avant-garde scene in the late 1960s. The film details the tortured early lives of founding members, Lou Reed and John Cale, and tells the story of how their disparate musical backgrounds came together to produce something that sounded radically different

Todd Haynes directs the new documentary “The Story of Todd Haynes” on AppleTV+. The Velvet Underground explores the rise and fall of the polarizing band that defined New York’s avant-garde scene in the late 1960s. The film tells the story how Lou Reed and John Cale’s early lives were tortured and how their musical backgrounds led to something completely new.

The Velvet Underground was an unlikely collaboration that formed in 1964 by Lou Reed, a Jewish middle-class college dropout from Long Island and John Cale, a classically trained viola player from Wales. They wrote songs about hard drugs and hedonism, and called themselves 'the Velvet Underground,' taken from the title a 1963 paperback about deviant sexual subcultures

The Velvet Underground was a strange collaboration that Lou Reed, a Jewish college dropout from Long Island, and John Cale, a classically-trained viola player from Wales, formed in 1964. They sang songs about hard drugs, hedonism, etc. and called themselves “the Velvet Underground” after the 1963 paperback that described deviant subcultures.

Andy Warhol started managing the band in 1966 after an ad-hoc audition for his art collective, at The Factory. 'They were all dressed in black, they started playing 'Heroin,' we were just completely bowled over,' recalled Factory-girl Mary Woronov. Warhol managed their publicity, produced their first album, and added Nico to the lineup, a glacial Teutonic blonde with a distinctly low voice (above)

Andy Warhol became the manager of the band after a 1966 audition for his art collective, The Factory. Mary Woronov, a Factory girl, recalls that they were all dressed in black and started playing ‘Heroin.’ We were completely overwhelmed. Warhol managed their publicity, produced their debut album and added Nico, a Teutonic glacial blonde with a distinctively low voice (above).

The embattled decision to add 'this blond iceberg next to us all dressed in black' ended up being a good idea, recalled John Cale in the doc. Guitarist Sterling Morrison agreed: 'I don't think we would have gotten a contract if Andy didn't do the cover, or if Nico wasn't so beautiful'

John Cale recalled that the embattled decision of adding ‘this blonde iceberg next us all dressed in Black’ was a good decision. Sterling Morrison, guitarist, agreed that he didn’t think they would have been awarded a contract if Andy hadn’t done the cover or if Nico wasn’t so beautiful.

They happened almost by chance. The band’s lineup of Lou Reed, John Cale and Sterling Morrison was as different as it was similar.  Three of them grew up on Long Island and spoke with heavy Long Island accents. They shared a dislike for almost everything, except love. Booker T., Bo Diddley and the M.G.’s. 

Lou Reed was raised in a typical 1950s middle-class Jewish household. Allan Hyman who was his childhood friend, described them in the documentary, as “central casting for Father Knows Best.”  

Reed felt disillusioned growing up in a small-town suburb. Music became his salvation. Reed began his training in piano at age 10, before he started playing guitar at age 10. ‘I think that I brought in Blue Suede Shoes to say teach me this. 

Directed by Todd Haynes, the documentary features in-depth interviews with John Cale and other key players from the band's heyday; combined with gritty never-before-scene archival footage of New York City and The Factory

Todd Haynes directed the documentary. The documentary features in-depth interviews featuring John Cale, other key players from their heyday; and gritty never before seen archival footage about New York City and The Factory

Lou was 14 years old when he made his first recording. To the dismay of his conservative parents, Lou began to travel into the city to perform at the Hayloft gay bar. 

Lou’s parents We were astonished by his stubborn nature and sent him to When he was 17, he was given electroshock treatments. Reed said that they were ‘trying shock the gayness out’ of Lou, but the punishment only strengthened Lou’s unflappable spirit for rebellion.  

By 1964, he was a college dropout and working as a staff songwriter for Pickwick Records; churning out 99 cent pop albums that were sold at Woolworths and other supermarkets. 

John Cale, a classically trained violist, had arrived in America on a scholarship sponsored Leonard Bernstein. In the doc, he stated that it was his first time in New York. ‘Holy sh** this place is filthy.’ He moved into 56 Ludlow Street, a Lower East Side haven for the burgeoning counterculture scene, and started experimenting with insufferable trace-state like music.   

Similar to Reed’s unhappy childhood, Cale’s was filled with loneliness and misery. His mother ‘disappeared” at a young stage and he barely knew his father. His Welsh grandmother, whom Cale described as being ‘thoroughly nationistic’, disapproved of his mother’s marriage with an Englishman and prohibited the use of English in their household. Cale was only 7 years old when he learned English and was unable communicate with his father. After his mother was sent to an isolation hospital, Cale’s mother disappeared. 

He said that he felt very isolated. ‘Things began going off the rails, and I was on my feet. His only joy was music, he said that the radio was his only source of entertainment.

He stated, “I was dazzled and amazed by rock and rolling by that point, I also was dazzled and astonished by the lyrics and music of The Beatles,” 

The unlikely pairing of the stubborn rockers was accidental. Pickwick Records hired Cale to be backup on a Reed-written dance song called “The Ostrich”. Cale instantly knew they were attune with each other’s experimental music taste when he noticed Reed tune all six guitar strings to the same note. 

They started collaborating and were soon joined by ‘the chick drummer’ Maureen ‘Moe’ Tucker and Reed’s college classmate Sterling Morrison on rhythm guitar. They called themselves The Velvet Underground, based on a 1963 paperback about sexual subcultures.  

The Velvets were introduced to Andy Warhol in 1966 through the experimental teenage filmmaker, Barbara Rubin (left). She was a muse to Allen Ginsburg, Jonas Mekas and Bob Dylan, before she disappeared abruptly to join an Orthodox Jewish community in France. Rubin died in 1980 during childbirth at age 35

Andy Warhol was introduced to the Velvets by Barbara Rubin, a teenage experimental filmmaker (left). She was a muse of Allen Ginsburg and Jonas Mekas before she left abruptly to join an Orthodox Jewish congregation in France. Rubin died at 35 years old during childbirth.

The Velvet Underground was all but over by 1970. John Cale tells the doc: 'Lou suddenly went crazy and then fired Andy, and Andy called him a rat.' He added: 'The whole thing was done behind closed doors, I mean I had no idea Lou fired Andy.' Months later, Reed pushed Cale out of the band too

1970 was the final year of the Velvet Underground. John Cale informs the doctor: “Lou suddenly went insane and then fired Andy. Andy called Andy a rat.” He said: “The whole thing happened behind closed doors, I mean Lou fired Andy.” Reed also pushed Cale out of his band a few months later.

Lou Reed was notoriously temperamental and reveled in being contrarian. He described himself as a 'f---ing f****t junkie,' but was married thrice to different women and famously preferred amphetamines to heroin. 'He was not comfortable in most places,' said his former girlfriend in the film. 'And if he wasn't comfortable to begin with, he really took advantage of it and made everyone else uncomfortable'

Lou Reed was known for his temperament and love of being contrarian. He described himself as a ‘f—ing f****t junkie,’ but was married thrice to different women and famously preferred amphetamines to heroin. His ex-girlfriend in the film said that he wasn’t comfortable in most places. “And if he wasn’t comfortable, he took advantage of it and made everybody else uncomfortable.”

Reed’s transgressive lyrics were the foundation of Cale’s hypnotic bass. He said that it was deliberately ‘detuned and modeled on the 60-cycle humof the refrigerator. They would later discover that their rhythm was the same frequency as the brain in a trance like state.  

Lou Reed, inspired by Rimbaud’s beat poets Allen Ginsberg (and William Burroughs), wrote laconic and nihilistic lyrics about the deviant worlds of sex and opiates. In an old clip from the documentary, he said that he thought that was what he wanted to do with a drum and a guitar.  

As their manager, Andy Warhol gave his trademark stamp of approval by designing the Velvet Underground's now-iconic, debut album cover in 1967

Andy Warhol, their manager, gave his signature stamp of approval when he designed the Velvet Underground’s iconic debut album cover in 1967.

He said to his childhood friend, “If it isn’t dark and isn’t degrading it’s not sex.” “You couldn’t understand it.” You are becoming a Republican.   

The songs were a marriage of their strengths: Cale’s high-brow musical education  and avant-garde taste with Reed’s preference for mainstream pop. They wanted to do something different in a time when The Beatles and Bob Dylan dominated the music charts. 

Cale stated, “The only way we could give Bob Dylan a run was to go on stage and improvise new songs every night.” Lou was an expert at this, he could improvise songs in a flash.    

Barbara Rubin was a druggy scener and downtown darling who noticed the Velvets. In 1966, she introduced Andy Warhol and the Velvet Underground to her and invited them to an audition at his art gallery, the world-famous “Factory”.  

“Barbara Rubin brought them in, all of them are dressed in black, and they began to play ‘HeroinMary Woronov, Warhol’s superstar, recalled. “We were like, just completely thrown over.” 

Warhol became their de facto manager after the Factory made The Velvet Underground their house band. He managed their publicity, produced their first record and secured them a recording contract with MGM. They had enough credibility to book gigs around the city after Warhol’s endorsement. 

Tension brewed between Lou Reed and Andy Warhol, who described himself as 'producer' of their debut album with MGM. Lou Reed sneeringly clarified: 'Andy produced our first record in the sense that he was there breathing in the studio'

Tension erupted between Lou Reed and Andy Warhol. Andy described himself as the ‘producer’ for their debut album with MGM. Lou Reed laughed and clarified, “Andy produced our first album in the sense that it was his first record.”

Leveraging his own fame, Andy Warhol added the Velvet Underground to his multi-media art 'happening' known as, the Exploding Plastic Inevitable -which garnered audience members like Jackie Kennedy, Walter Cronkite and Rudolph Nureyev. After a doomed performance in Los Angeles, Cher, claimed their music 'will replace nothing, except maybe suicide.' By 1968, Lou Reed was tired of being a performing monkey in Warhol's circus and fired him as their manager

Andy Warhol, who was already famous, added the Velvet Underground as part of his multi-media art ‘happenings’, which he called, the Exploding Plastic Is Inevitablewhich garnered audience members like Jackie Kennedy, Walter Cronkite and Rudolph Nureyev. Cher claimed that their music would replace suicide, after a disastrous performance in Los Angeles. Lou Reed had grown tired of being a performer monkey in Warhol’s circus by 1968 and fired him from his position as their manager

The Velvet Underground pictured during the recording of Venus in Furs. Cale tells the doc: 'As soon as Venus in Furs hit, I knew that we had a way of doing something in rock and roll that nobody else could. He adds, 'All that was done with detuned guitars that I was really proud of because I said 'Hey Lou, nobody's gonna figure out how the h**l to do this'

The recording of “The Velvet Underground” Venus in Furs. Cale tells the doc: ‘As soon as Venus in Furshit, I knew we could do something in rock and roller that no one else could. He adds, ‘All that was done with detuned guitars that I was really proud of because I said ‘Hey Lou, nobody’s gonna figure out how the h**l to do this’

Tension was building between Warhol’s band and Warhol’s volatile frontman: ‘Andy produced the first record in that sense that he was breathing in the studio,’ Reed (who died in 2013,) said in an audio recording included in the doc. Though he conceded, ‘But…he made it possible for us to make a record without anybody changing it because Andy Warhol was there.’

The 1967 album cover was designed by the pop-artist to stamp his approval. It featured a yellow banana print, which was provocatively removed to reveal the pink fruit. 

Warhol, who drew on his own fame to give the Velvet Underground top billing during the “Exploding Plastic Is Inevitable”The ‘live multimedia ‘happening’ attracted many audience members such as Walter Cronkite, Jackie Kennedy and Rudolph Nureyev. 

Warhol brought the lights, “curious movies’ and leather-clad dancers, but most importantly he brought Nico, the enigmatic and impossibly beautiful German chanteuse who made her debut acting in Fellini’s, ‘La Dolce Vita.‘ 

“Paul (Morrissey), a filmmaker in Warhol’s Factory, started convincing Andy that Lou wasn’t that good-looking. Billy Name, the film’s photographer, stated that you had to have a beautiful woman in there. Andy almost begged Lou to do it. 

They were later known as The Velvet Underground & Nico. 

Amy Toubin, a film critic, said that despite her being annoyed at the beginning, she could not hold a pitch.

Nico was a huge hit. Cale said that Nico was a huge hit.

Doug Yule (left) replaced John Cale after Reed unceremoniously kicked him out of the band in 1968. Guitarist Sterling Morrison (right), suspects it had to do with 'jealousy'

Doug Yule (left), replaced John Cale in 1968 after Reed unceremoniously kicked him from the band. Sterling Morrison, guitarist, suspects it was due to ‘jealousy.

Andy Warhol, pictured with Nico, booked the Velvet Underground oddball gigs around New York City including the 1966 psychiatrists' society dinner (above) where the band 'acoustically tortured the guests.' The following day the New York Times reported the events as , 'Shock treatment for psychiatrists'

Andy Warhol (pictured with Nico) booked the Velvet Underground oddball shows around New York City, including the 1966 psychiatrists society dinner (above), in which the band ‘acoustically tortured guests’. The New York Times published the news the next day, reporting that the band had performed shock treatment on psychiatrists.

Their experimental oeuvre was not commercially successful despite being popular in New York. The first two albums were sold in the tens to thousands. 

Warhol took the Exploding Plastic is Inevitable on the road, performing oddball gigs for audiences with lukewarm responses. Moe Tucker recalls, “They’d leave them in in droves.” ‘We used joke around and say, “Well how many people left tonight?” It must have had been a good night, because it was only half of the total. 

Their eccentricities were evident in Los Angeles, when the Velvets performed a doomed show with Frank Zappa & The Mother’s of Invention. Sterling Morrison, guitarist, says that they hadn’t been to the West Coast before. “And it was strange the way it struck us that everybody was very healthy, and their idea for a light show was they had an a Buddha on the wall.

“They were hippies, and we hate hippies!” said Mary Woronov, who’d been a dancer with the Exploding Plastic is Inevitable. She recalled, comically, how their outsider status within the flower power set was displayed when they sat poolside in head-toe black at Tropicana Motel.  

Woronov was more specific in another interview with New Yorker: ‘We had amphetamines and they had acid. They were so slow to speak with these wide-open eyes—’Oh, wow!’—so into their ‘vibrations’; we spoke in rapid machine-gun fire about books and paintings and movies. They were homophobic, we were homosexual. Their women, they were these big round-t****d girls, you would say hello to them and they would just flop down on the bed and f**k you; we liked sexual tension, S & M, not f*****g. They were barefoot; we had platform boots. They were eating bread they had baked themselves—and we never ate at all!’

The contempt was mutual. Cher said about the Velvet Underground, ‘It won’t replace anything, except maybe suicide.’ Record sales were disappointing.

The Velvets are pictured playing at the psychiatry convention in 1966 at The Delmonico Hotel. Barbara Rubin took part in the performance by taunting the physiatrists with vile questions alongside Edie Sedgewick who performed a BDSM-inspired 'whip dance'

The Velvets were pictured at the 1966 psychiatry convention at The Delmonico Hotel. Barbara Rubin participated in the performance, taunting physiatrists by asking them vile and threatening questions. Edie Swedgewick performed a BDSM-inspired whip dance.

'They had this off-putting aura, you know? Yikes, they were scary,' says Sterling Morrison's wife in the film. 'The thing that we understood...was how much disdain we had for everything else, ' explained Cale. 'In the end, unfortunately, it became each of us'

“They had this offputting aura, you see?” They were frightening,’ Sterling Morrison’s wife says in the film. Cale said, “The thing that we understood…was the amount of disdain and contempt we had for all other things.” ‘Unfortunately, it was each of us.

The Velvet Underground tried to do something radically different during a time when The Beatles, Bob Dylan and The Beach Boys dominated music charts. Though popular in New York, their experimental oeuvre didn't translate to commercial success, and after five years, their first album only sold 30,000 copies

The Velvet Underground attempted to do something completely different in a time when Bob Dylan, The Beatles and The Beach Boys dominated the music charts. Although they were popular in New York, their experimental oeuvre did not translate to commercial success. Their first album was only sold 30,000 copies after five years.

Reed fired John Cale in 1967. 'I really didn't know how to please him,' recalled Cale. 'There was nothing I could do. You try to be nice and he'd hate you more'

In 1967, John Cale was fired by Reed. Cale recalled, “I didn’t know how I could please him.” Cale said, “There was nothing I could.” You try to be kind, but he’d hate more.

The tension between the band members was high by the second album and things were in shambles. Cale says the songs were more outlandish and aggressive, which he calls’straightamphetamine’.

Cale recalls that Lou suddenly became insane and fired Andy. Andy also called Andy a rat. “The whole thing happened behind closed doors, I don’t know how.

Reed unceremoniously expelled Cale from the band shortly after Warhol’s departure. Sterling Morrison suspects it was due to ‘jealousy.

Cale said, “I didn’t know how I could please him.” He would hate you more if he tried to be kind. 

“The thing we understood was how much we hated everything else. Unfortunately, it became each one of us.” 

Cale laments that if drugs hadn’t been available, we might have all been pushing to get something. But, it was time to pause for a second because trust was gone. 

Reed took the band to a mainstream direction and created radio-friendly songs such as Sweet Jane Rock & Roll. His goal was clear from the beginning: “I want to become a rockstar and I want to make it rich.” 

It was all over by August 1970 when Reed – infamously self-destructive and capricious – decided to quit the band one hour before they were set to play at Max’s Kansas City. Their last album. LoadedThe movie, titled, was released later in the year. 

Reed recalled being shocked when he saw the album in stores. He said, “I left them to their albums full of hits that they made.”

After the Velvet Underground, Maureen “Moe” Tucker became a mother to five children and pursued an unsuccessful solo career in music. Sterling Morrison earned a Ph.D. in medieval literature and was a tugboat captain. Lou Reed began what Rolling Stone called “one of the most self-indulgent, self-destructive solo careers in rock history.”

John Cale was a prolific writer and producer, with seminal albums for The Stooges and Patti Smith. 

Lou Reed and Hemingway rekindled their friendship in the 1970s, but they didn’t work together again until 1990 with Songs For Drella – a mix of Cinderella/Dracula – an album they both agreed was a fitting title for Warhol. 

The Velvet Underground’s brief existence was a commercial disaster. Their first album sold only 30,000 copies within five years. Their short-lived existence would soon be overshadowed by a legacy that will inspire future generations of musicians. Brian Eno once said, “I believe everyone who bought one among those 30,000 copies started to form a band!”