The Velvet Underground

Call for chapters
The Velvet Underground (academic book collection)
Editors – Sean Albiez and David Pattie

Though, relatively speaking, The Velvet Underground were critically and commercially unsuccessful in their time, in ensuing decades they have become a constant touchstone in art rock, punk, post-punk, indie, avant pop and alternative rock. After the band’s initial demise, in their solo work and live and studio collaborations, ex-band members continued to create music that variously drew from the literary, experimental and pop heritage of the band. In particular Lou Reed, John Cale and Velvet Underground associate Nico produced a number of works that travelled a liminal path between art and pop. However, original members Moe Tucker and Sterling Morrison, and Doug Yule (who joined the band after Cale left in 1968) in their own way sporadically pursued more low key musical activities. In 1993 the original band members of Reed, Cale, Morrison and Tucker briefly reunited for live appearances. After the reformation petered out, Reed until his death in 2013, Cale, and briefly Tucker, continued to produce music that travelled the idiosyncratic path that began in New York in the mid-1960s.

The influence of the band and band members, mediated and promoted through famous fans (including David Bowie and Brian Eno) who championed their music, seems only to have expanded since the late 1960s. In 1996 the Velvet Underground were in inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, demonstrating how far the band had travelled in 30 years from an avant-garde cult to the mainstream recognition of their key contributions to popular music. Despite many publications documenting and discussing the activities and significance of the band, it is only recently that academic attention has begun to be paid to The Velvet Underground.

We are inviting proposals for a book-length essay collection on all aspects of the work of The Velvet Underground, with the book split into two sections:

– Section One will examine perspectives on the band from pre-band activities through to the release of the album Loaded in 1970.
– Section Two will consider solo works, collaborations between and beyond original band members, the short afterlife of the band under the stewardship of Doug Yule, the 1990s reformation and more recent activities.

One of the key features of the collection will be to encourage contributions focusing on neglected features of the work of the band and band members. The book also aims to explore how discourses around the band developed over time in placing and evaluating their contributions to the wider field of popular music. The question of The Velvet Underground’s growing wider musical influence and how this can be mapped will also be examined.

Potential subjects for contributions include:
Section One – The Velvet Underground to 1970
The Velvet Underground and:
– Nico
– Andy Warhol and Pop Art
– intermedia/multimedia performance
– the 1960s musical avant-garde
– (the psychogeography of) New York
– Boston
– nihilism in the context of 60s Counterculture
– their ‘proto-punk’ identity
– studies of their four studio albums
– studies of their documented live performances

Section Two – Post-1970
– Solo Lou Reed, John Cale, Nico and Mo Tucker
– John Cale as producer
Squeeze and Doug Yule’s The Velvet Underground
– Live and studio collaborations between band members
– Live and studio collaborations with others (e.g. David Bowie, Brian Eno, Metallica, etc.)
– The 1993 reformation
– David Bowie as The Velvet Underground propagandist
– Influence of The Velvet Underground on defined genres and artists
– Cover versions and tributes
– Processes of rock canonisation
VU and Another View – The Velvet Underground in the 1980s

The book will be co-edited by Sean Albiez and David Pattie whose previous academic book collections include Kraftwerk: Music Non Stop (Continuum, 2011) and Brian Eno: Oblique Music (Bloomsbury, 2016). Please send 300-word proposals and a short bio by Friday 6 January 2017 to Sean Albiez sean.albiez[at] and David Pattie d.pattie[at]