Debbie Harry and Chris Stein Discover the Velvet Underground

Debbie Harry and Chris Stein Discover the Velvet Underground

The Velvet Underground won over future Blondie cofounders Debbie Harry and Chris Stein, who saw them on separate occasions around 1967. “The stage was bright and colorful and beautiful,” Harry said of a show she saw not long after she moved to the Lower East Side. “I remember Nico was wearing a chartreuse outfit and it was stunning. It was just beautiful to look at, as well as to hear, and I remember Andy being there in the balcony. Andy Warhol was running the lights, and it was just this beautiful burst of colors and vibrations. The projections behind them were just so lovely and impressionistic, but also dark and scary at the same time. I guess I was drawn to the darkness.” Stein and his teenage pals loved the group’s debut album, and one day in 1967 they realized every garage band’s dream: opening for the Velvet Underground. “My friend Joey Freeman’s job was basically to go wake up Andy at his house,” Stein recalled, “and one day he told me that the band that was supposed to open for the Velvet Underground had cancelled. We just went up there, set up, and played at a place called the Gymnasium.” That casual pickup band was sometimes known as First Crow on the Moon, which Stein didn’t really take seriously, but the show itself was a life-changing event. “That Velvet Underground show was completely awesome, in every sense of that word,” Stein said. “It was just overpowering.”

From Chapter 15 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore


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