Velvet Underground

THE VELVET UNDERGROUND made their first public appearance with Andy Warhol and others at the New York Society for Clinical Psychiatry’s annual banquet for 1966. Warhol, David Bourdon has written, had been invited to lecture, but decided instead “to entertain the group with two of his movies, Harlot and Henry Geldzahler, and the Velvets’ music. . . . Soon after the main course was served, . . . fiercely amplified rock music . . . drowned out conversations. Nico . . . groaned incoherently into the microphone. On stage, [Gerard] Malanga threw himself into his strenuous whip dance, while Edie Sedgwick launched into leggy gyrations.” What Warhol himself did Bourdon does not record. A fascinating, perplexing brilliance around whom many things spun centrifugally, sometimes hitting—thwack—walls of their own devising, he was not so much taking the temperature (bend over) of the zeitgeist as giving

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