The Velvet Underground was an American rock band formed in New York City. First active from 1964 to 1973, their best-known members were Lou Reed and John Cale, who both went on to find success as solo artists. Although experiencing little commercial success while together, the band is often cited by many critics as one of the most important and influential groups of the 1960s. An often-repeated statement, usually attributed to Brian Eno or Peter Buck, is that “The first Velvet Underground album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band.”
Andy Warhol managed the Velvet Underground and it was the house band at his studio, the Factory, and his Exploding Plastic Inevitable events. The provocative lyrics of some of the band’s songs gave a nihilistic outlook to some of their music.
Their 1967 debut album, titled The Velvet Underground & Nico (which featured German singer Nico, with whom the band collaborated) was named the 13th Greatest Album of All Time, and the “most prophetic rock album ever made” by Rolling Stone in 2003. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked the band #19 on its list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, by Patti Smith.