We’re digging into the Far Out Magazine vault to bring you a very special moment as founding members of the iconic Velvet Underground, John Cale, Lou Reed, and Mo Tucker share the stage together for the last time at their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 1996.
The Velvet Underground’s impact on music wasn’t an earth-shaking moment when they arrived on the scene in the swinging sixties. In fact, outside of a small group of cult fans, the group were relative unknowns in comparison to The Beatles, The Doors, The Stones and other counterparts.
In fact, by the time they announced their disbandment in 1973, there were few gasps of horror or undignified pleas for “just one more record”. Instead, they were allowed to float off into their solo passions without much fuss as John Cale, Lou Reed, Sterling Morrison, Mo Tucker, and Nico all went their separate ways.
However, in the mid-nineties, with a host of new rock acts citing the band’s subversion of pop music as an inherent influence the fervour around the Velvet Underground began to grow once again. It was an atmosphere that was seemingly encouraging the band to get back together as The Who, the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and others had done.
In 1990, Reed and Cale did begin working with each other once more on Songs for Drella following the death of their friend Andy Warhol. It was the first album the pair had worked on since White Light/White Heat in 1968.
Cale and Reed would take the record on a very small tour and when former VU drummer Maureen Tucker joined the pair on stage for a performance of their song ‘Pale Blue Eyes’ at a special Brooklyn show. It would begin tongues wagging of a reunion and following a triumphant performance at a small French festival, the group agreed to tour once more.
Sadly, the band’s heroic return to the stage wouldn’t ever reach North America. The band’s small European tour is the last taste of The Velvet Underground in their iconic line-up of John Cale, Lou Reed, Sterling Morrison, and Maureen Tucker. The embittered infighting between Cale and Reed would resurface once more and see the remainder of the tour cancelled. Just two years later and Sterling Morrison would sadly pass away from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
It would lead to one of the saddest and most touching performances of the Velvet Underground’s long career. The group were inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, just a few months after Morrison’s death and decided it was the best place to put their troubles aside and pay tribute to their friend.
The induction of most rock stars is an ego-filled, blow-up doll for most artists. Someone you admire says something nice about you, you pick up the award, then you’re off to play a couple of hits and then back to the bar—but the Velvet Underground, as ever, did something different.
Instead of playing their hits, they chose to honour their friend Morrison, the man who couldn’t be with them to enjoy the moment, with a brand new composition. “This is a song the three of us wrote for our friend, Sterling Morrison. It’s called ‘Last Night, I Said Goodbye To My Friend’.”
It’s an unbelievably candid moment as the trio pour out their hearts over a song that detailed their final moments with Morrison. Watch below as the Velvet Underground put their squabbles aside to perform together one last time.
See the show, below.