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(Credit: Cornell University)

Rare footage of The Velvet Underground rehearsing 'Sunday Morning' from 1966

We are dipping into the Far Out Magazine vault to look back at one of the most influential bands of the 1960s rehearsing one of their most cherished hits. This footage of pre-fame The Velvet Underground is one of our favourites—but that’s not saying too much. Not because we don’t love Lou Reed and the band, because we really do. It’s not saying much because there is very little competition.

The treasure chest of footage of the band during their formation and before they hit it big with their debut LP The Velvet Underground & Nico is, for the most part, fairly empty. However, we do at least have this footage of the band rehearsing one of their seminal hits, the fantastic ‘Sunday Morning’.

The footage sees the band’s principal songwriters Lou Reed, John Cale, and Sterling Morrison rehearsing the opening track for the band’s debut record with gusto. The song would go on to become a noted moment of joyous beginnings and rapturous sunshine in an otherwise seedy set of songs. Swamped in the mire of New York City, and all it holds, Reed and co. clearly found the need to break through the darkness with a little golden light.

In the clip below, the band is rehearsing the song in filmmaker Rosalind Stevenson’s apartment who, naturally, jumped at the chance to capture the band. Morrison, Reed and Cale all flurry around as they continue to rehearse the iconic track. In 1966 the group was beginning to find their feet outside of the weird and wonderful world of Warhol.

This song would act as a lightning rod for those in the know, those able to decipher the spirituality and sultry hints at sordid tales that the seemingly innocent song housed. It was a mark of their artistry, Reed’s songwriting skills and, perhaps most importantly, one of the reasons America wouldn’t catch on to the band for years to come, leaving the group largely unloved in their own time.

Although the footage was originally a silent film, it was overdubbed with the track for a 1994 BBC documentary called Peel Slowly and See which explored the band that would go on to not only define a generation but sow the seeds of rock and roll as we know it today.

Watch rare footage of The Velvet Underground from 1966 rehearsing ‘Sunday Morning’.

Source: Open Culture