Active from 1965 to 1973, The Velvet Underground was managed by Andy Warhol and featured Lou Reed and John Cale. The name Velvet Underground stems from a book of the same title by Michael Leigh that explores the secret sexual subculture of the early 1960s—quite fitting as Reed had already written Venus in Furs, a song about masochism.
When Warhol became the band’s manager in 1965, he suggested using a German-born singer named Nico on several songs, and helped secure a recording contract with Verve Records. Between 1967 and 1973, the group released six albums, none of which were commercially successful. Despite this, the impact of the Velvet Underground on the music of the later 1960s was undeniable. Accolades came later; in 2003, Rolling Stone Magazine named the Velvet’s first album—The Velvet Underground & Nico—as the 13th Greatest Album of All Time, and also named it “the most prophetic rock album ever made.” In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked the band #19 on its list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time.” The Velvet Underground was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, where Lou Reed and John Cale performed together for the last time.