The Velvet Underground & Nico: Scepter Studio Sessions
Singer/guitarist Lou Reed, multi-instrumentalist John Cale, guitarist Sterling Morrison and drummer Moe Tucker adopted the name The Velvet Underground.
In 1966, pop artist Andy Warhol became their manager. The Velvet Underground served as the house band at Warhol’s studio, the Factory.
Also that year, German singer Nico joined the foursome to lay down some tracks at Scepter Records. The result was an influential and experimental rock album, “The Velvet Underground & Nico.”
A few years ago, Rolling Stone wrote the backstory of that session.
In April 1966, engineer Norman Dolph recorded the session in secret and pressed a couple of acetate albums. He did so in an after-hours exchange for a painting by Warhol.
“Warhol wanted to record and cut the acetate before the band signed to a record label to minimize label intrusion.
The recording was rejected by three labels before Verve agreed to distribute the group’s debut album.
“This record represents a different take on the music industry,” Shuga Records told Rolling Stone. At that time, record labels were kept at a distance to avoid artistic compromise.
“This is the Velvets as the Velvets and Andy Warhol saw them, unencumbered by label A&Rs worrying about how this lyric might affect album sales, or the music being hard to digest.”
Only two acetate copies of that covert pressing were known to exist. One remained in the possession of a band member. The other disappeared … until 2002. That is when record collector Warren Hill saw the album at a street sale in New York City. He bought it for seventy-five cents. That turned out to be a solid investment.
There is more to the Scepter Studio recording sessions. The Andy Warhol Museum will tell that story with music, photographs, film footage and works of art.
“The Velvet Underground & Nico: Scepter Studio Sessions” will be on view May 12–Sep. 25, 2023.
In addition to its daytime hours, The Andy Warhol Museum is open until 10 p.m. on Fridays. This is ideal for those who are unable (or unwilling) to visit museums by day. #EveryMuseum in America could be open late at least once a month.
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