The Velvet Underground Blur Pop and Mainstream

The Velvet Underground Blur Pop and Mainstream

“That’s what Blondie came out of—we all had that influence,” said Debbie Harry, referring to the Velvets and the Warhol scene. “Chris [Stein] and I came from an art background, and it’s part of the way we think. There was also our association with Warhol, and Chris was really friendly with William Burroughs. Chris went to art school, and would either have become a photographer or a painter—and then the music evolved.” Andy Warhol and his collaborators regularly blurred the lines between the mainstream and margins—such as the time when the Velvet Underground appeared at “Freak-Out ’66,” with Warhol doing lights. The music festival’s lineup included Lower East Side noise anarchists the Godz, Top 40 girl groups the Ronettes and the Shangri-Las, and baroque pop one-hit wonder the Left Banke, of “Walk Away Renée” semi-fame. (Coincidentally, the Left Banke was formed from the ashes of the Morticians, another Brooklyn band that Chris Stein played in as a teen.) Fans who went to check out the Ronettes or the Shangri-Las surely were in for a surprise with the Velvets’ musical dissonance.

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


The Factory (original location)
231 E 47th St, New York, NY 10017