Moe Tucker of the Velvet Underground wrote a piece about Lou Reed, which ran yesterday in The Observer.
I first met Lou when he came by one day to see my brother. They were friends from college and he came by to pick up my brother around Thanksgiving or maybe Christmas. That was in the early 60s. A long time ago. A different time. A different world. I think we said hello, and I knew from my brother that he was into music, but he didn’t make that big an impression.
Lou and Sterling [Morrison] met through my brother. They were all at Syracuse together, and that’s when the two of them started to play together. I got involved in their group almost by accident because the original drummer left just before a gig in New York in 1965 and they needed a new drummer real fast. Sterling said, “Oh, Tucker’s sister plays drums.” I lived way out on Long Island and they came out there from the city to see if I could keep a beat. That’s how it happened.
I was working as a data puncher for IBM and playing drums at night in a band that a brother of one of my girlfriends had formed. I was a pop fan, the Beatles and the Stones and all that 60s stuff, and suddenly I was playing this really avant-garde stuff in a group called the Velvet Underground. I had no grounding in the experimental stuff that John [Cale] loved, so it was quite a leap.
“There She Goes Again”:
The first gig I played was the first gig as the Velvet Underground. [Summit high school New Jersey, 11 December 1965] We played three songs [There She Goes Again, Venus in Furs and Heroin]. A lot of people were bewildered. A lot of people left. I think Lou kind of liked that. Then we played Cafe Bizarre in New York and the guy who owned it didn’t want the drums as they were too loud, so I played tambourine. I like the sound of the tambourine so that was fine. That’s where Barbara Rubin introduced us to Andy (Warhol).
It was a whole different world to the one I knew, especially at the Factory with the Warhol crowd, but it was really exciting and a lot of fun. I wasn’t scared or overwhelmed, I was just excited. Sterling was a kind of comforting presence. I’d known him since I was 11. John and Lou were just so full of ideas. I was super-impressed – the drones, the lyrics, the noise, the whole way they approached music was just new and exciting, and there was a pop imagination in there, too.
On December 10 the Velvert Underground’s White Light/ White Heat will be released as a multi-disc set with lots of previously unreleased material. Here’s a 19-minute live version of “Sister Ray” recorded at the Gymnasium in New York City on April 30, 1967.
The remaining three members of the Velvet Underground — Lou Reed, John Cale and Maureen Tucker — performed this tribute to Sterling Morrison at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame awards dinner in 1995. The Velvets were inducted into the Hall of Fame that night.