John Cale
british avantguarde musician
John Cale
John Davies Cale, OBE is a Welsh musician, composer, singer-songwriter and record producer who was a founding member of the experimental rock band The Velvet Underground. Though best known for his work in rock music, Cale has worked in various genres including drone and classical. Since departing from the Velvet Underground in 1968 he has released approximately 30 albums.
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What's it like to hear the L.A. Phil play your music in Disney Hall? Ask these composers, ages 16 to 18
LATimes - 7 days
Conductor Christopher Rountree stands illuminated by a spotlight on the Walt Disney Concert Hall stage. He takes a soothing breath and encourages the 2,100 middle school students seated before him to help perform John Cage’s seminal composition, “4’33”,” which requires the audience and musicians...
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LATimes article
GOP Leaders Join Call for Probe of Russian Hacking
Wall Street Journal - 3 months
Momentum to pursue investigations into alleged Russian hacking in the U.S. presidential election picked up steam Monday, with the Senate’s top Republican joining Democrats, the White House and other GOP leaders in calls for a probe.
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Wall Street Journal article
'Leaving The Table'--A Eulogy For Leonard Cohen
Huffington Post - 4 months
I have to etch these words into my memory forever, while they are still fresh, while I am still stunned, while I am still reeling: Leonard Cohen has passed away, aged 82 years. His music is playing on a loop in my room as I write this, his words are playing on a loop in my mind. I find myself suddenly making frantic online purchases of live Cohen recordings on vinyl--1970's landmark Isle of Wight album, Field Commander Cohen dating from his 1979 tour, and a 1988 concert from one of my favorite venues (Toronto's Massey Hall). Undoubtedly, there are millions of people all around the world who are feeling his loss. Perhaps they knew him personally during the early days in Montreal. Or they could have crossed paths with him in New York City at the Chelsea Hotel. Maybe there's a Greek family living in his old house on the island of Hydra, who could regale visitors with anecdotes left in its dusty corners. Maybe there's a woman in England who owns everything he's written--all the po ...
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Huffington Post article
An Appreciation: Lewis Merenstein, producer of Van Morrison masterpiece 'Astral Weeks'
LATimes - 6 months
Even if Lewis Merenstein hadn’t produced records by Gladys Knight & the Pips, Miriam Makeba, John Cale, the Spencer Davis Group, Mama Cass Elliot and numerous other acts, music fans would owe him a debt of deep gratitude if the only recording he helped usher into existence had been Van Morrison’s...
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LATimes article
John Cale: ‘Rock’n’roll is a rumpus house. You can do anything you want’
Guardian (UK) - about 1 year
The Welsh great talks of rearranging his past, working with Lou Reed and running riot with Bowie When you started out making music 53 years ago, did you anticipate having such a long career? Yeah, absolutely. As soon as you realise you can’t really do anything else. I couldn’t be an auto mechanic, I couldn’t be a brain surgeon. At an early stage, you realise you’re going to America to do this, and then you want to do more of this, and then you realise that rock’n’roll is more open to those ideas than classical music, where you started from. It’s a rumpus house, rock’n’roll. You can do anything you want in it. You can sing an aria or whatever and people will nod their heads and say, yes, we get it. You’ve remade your bleak 1982 album Music for a New Society under the name M:FANS. When you revisited those songs, what did you make of the person who wrote them? Confused and angry. But he’s trying to figure something out and if he doesn’t always succeed he always tries; that’s what sustains ...
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Guardian (UK) article
Police Leaders Join Call to Cut Prison Rosters
NYTimes - over 1 year
More than 30 police chiefs, sheriffs and prosecutors are seeking alternatives to arrests, to reduce the number of criminal laws and an end to mandatory minimum prison sentences. The group is set to meet with President Obama.
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NYTimes article
An Astonishing Novel That Continues to Inspire
Huffington Post - over 1 year
By Elizabeth Rosner | Off the Shelf The first time I read Virginia Woolf's luminous novel To the Lighthouse, I was 22 and in my first year of an MFA program at UC Irvine. Although I had already read Woolf's essay "A Room of One's Own," which certainly left an impression on my budding aspirations to write, I hadn't yet found my way to her novels. But reading this one fully changed my life. I can't imagine what kind of writer I would be now if I hadn't found its beacon. I am not alone. Eudora Welty describes her own discovery: "Blessed with luck and innocence, I fell upon the novel that once and forever opened the door of imaginative fiction for me, and read it cold, in all its wonder and magnitude." I was mesmerized not only by the gorgeousness of Woolf's prose but by the fluidity of the narrator's movement, the seamless way my attention was carried from one consciousness to another, the elegant subjectivity of the content. Images accumulated alongside emotional weather; pat ...
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Huffington Post article
Prague Rockers in New York City: Lorraine Leckie & Pavel Cingl
Huffington Post - over 1 year
My first trip here was back in 2000 with a band called Snake Eaters. The band leader was an American who had lived in Prague for about six years. He moved to New York and brought us here. Our first show was at the Bitter End. For me, it was a fantastic experience. I remember feeling that my whole life as a musician up to then was just a 'rehearsal' to play in this legendary club in the Village. I remember meeting Kenny Gorka, and when he showed me the list of the amazing artists who had played on that stage - Miles Davis, Bob Dylan ...I thought 'oh my god, look where I am! l'll never forget that feeling in my heart..." Pavel Cingl Indie rockers in-the-know are aware of renowned Czech violinist, composer, producer Pavel Cingl by way of his work with legendary post-punk recording artist and author Phil Shoenfelt among other noted ensembles, including one musical group which fell into such disfavor with the Czechoslovakia Communist Party that they were consequently banned. "When I ...
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Huffington Post article
Eleven Bass Players Who Belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Huffington Post - over 1 year
We serve the singer, the song, the soloist, and ultimately the listener. Though we do not possess the harmonic nor sonic range of a guitar, keyboards, voice, horns, wind instruments, nor the dynamics of drums and percussion-the bass player determines how a musical chord actually sounds - which, in essence -often determines whether or not you'll like the track. Do the math! The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees have been announced and I congratulate all the artists: The Cars, Chic, Chicago, Cheap Trick, Deep Purple, Janet Jackson, The J.B.'s, Chaka Khan, Los Lobos, Steve Miller, Nine Inch Nails, N.W.A., The Smiths, The Spinners, and Yes. Since the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation began in 1983 there has been much controversy over who belongs and who does not. It's no different than sports Halls of Fame. Controversy, dispute, and rock 'n' roll are siblings, and I accept that. However I must stand up for my woefully neglected bass brethren, some of whom no longer lay down ...
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Huffington Post article
Review: City Ballet’s ‘Americana x Five’ Offers a Comforting Mix
NYTimes - over 1 year
This package, including work by names like George Balanchine and John Cage, is meant to honor the American spirit.
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NYTimes article
Bang On A Can Riffs On John Cage
NPR - almost 2 years
Florent Ghys' An Open Cage springs from a recording of the maverick composer reading an excerpt from his Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse). » E-Mail This
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NPR article
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of John Cale
  • 2016
    Age 73
    In July 2016 Cale performed the songs "Valentine's Day", "Sorrow" and "Space Oddity" at a late-night BBC Prom concert at the Royal Albert Hall, London, celebrating the music of David Bowie.
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    Cale released his sixteenth solo album M:FANS in January 2016.
    More Details Hide Details It features new versions of songs from his 1982 album Music for a New Society.
  • 2014
    Age 71
    In 2014 he appeared as vendor in an episode "Sorrowsworn" of the television series The Bridge.
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  • 2012
    Age 69
    In the autumn of 2012 Cale released Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood, his first full-length studio album since 2005.
    More Details Hide Details The album features a collaboration with Danger Mouse, "I Wanna Talk 2 U". Critical reception of the album was mixed to positive, with The Guardian newspaper describing it as "an album that combines the 70-year-old's experience with the glee of a small child."
  • 2011
    Age 68
    In May 2011 Cale and his band appeared at the Brighton Festival, performing songs to the theme of Émigré/Lost & Found.
    More Details Hide Details Cale appeared at the invitation of the human rights advocate and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who was the festival's guest director.
    In February 2011 Cale signed a record deal with Domino Records subsidiary Double Six and released an EP, Extra Playful, in September 2011.
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  • 2010
    Age 67
    Cale was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2010 Birthday Honours.
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  • 2009
    Age 66
    His work for the 2009 Venice Biennale 'Dyddiau Du (dark days)' was shown at the festival, along with a number of live performances at venues around Hobart.
    More Details Hide Details The Paris 1919 album was performed, in its entirety, at the Coal Exchange Cardiff on 21 November 2009, at the Royal Festival Hall in London on 5 March 2010, and the Theatre Royal in Norwich on 14 May 2010. These performances were reprised in Paris on 5 September 2010; Brescia, Italy, on 11 September 2010; Los Angeles on 30 September 2010 at UCLA's Royce Hall; Melbourne, Australia, on 16 October 2010; Barcelona, Spain, on 28 May 2010 and Essen, Germany, on 6 October 2011.
    Cale represented Wales at the 2009 Venice Biennale, collaborating with artists, filmmakers, and poets, and focusing the artwork on his relationship with the Welsh language.
    More Details Hide Details In January 2010 Cale was invited to be the first Eminent Art in Residence (EAR) at the Mona Foma festival curated by Brian Ritchie held in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.
  • 2008
    Age 65
    On 11 October 2008 Cale hosted an event to pay tribute to Nico called "Life Along the Borderline" in celebration of what, five days later, would have been her 70th birthday.
    More Details Hide Details This event featured many artists including James Dean Bradfield, Mark Lanegan, Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse, the Fiery Furnaces, Guillemots, Nick Franglen of Lemon Jelly, Peter Murphy, Liz Green, and Lisa Gerrard of Dead Can Dance. The event was reprised at the Teatro Communale in Ferrara, Italy on 10 May 2009, with Mercury Rev, Mark Lanegan, Lisa Gerrard, Peter Murphy, Soap&Skin and Mark Linkous.
  • 2007
    Age 64
    In May 2007 Cale contributed a cover of the LCD Soundsystem song "All My Friends" to the vinyl and digital single releases of the LCD Soundsystem original.
    More Details Hide Details Cale has continued to work with other artists, contributing viola to Replica Sun Machine, the Danger Mouse-produced second album by London psychedelic trio the Shortwave Set and producing the second album of American indie band Ambulance Ltd.
  • 2006
    Age 63
    In June 2006, Cale released a radio and digital single, "Jumbo in tha Modernworld", that was unconnected to any album.
    More Details Hide Details A video was created for the song as well. In March 2007 a 23-song live retrospective, Circus Live, was released in Europe. This two-disc album, composed of recordings from both the 2004 and 2006 tours, featured new arrangements and reworkings of songs from his entire career. Of particular interest is the Amsterdam Suite, a set of songs from a performance at the Amsterdam Paradiso in 2004. A studio-created drone has been edited into these songs. The set also included a DVD, featuring electric rehearsal material and a short acoustic set, as well as the video for "Jumbo in tha Modernworld", a 2006 single.
  • 2005
    Age 62
    In 2005 Cale produced Austin singer-songwriter Alejandro Escovedo's eighth album, The Boxing Mirror, which was released in May 2006.
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  • 2003
    Age 60
    Signing to EMI in 2003 with the EP Five Tracks and the album HoboSapiens, Cale again returned as a regular recording artist, this time with music influenced by modern electronica and alternative rock.
    More Details Hide Details The well received album was co-produced with Nick Franglen of Lemon Jelly. That record was followed with 2005's album BlackAcetate.
  • 1999
    Age 56
    Cale has also written a number of film soundtracks, often using more classically influenced instrumentation. His autobiography, What's Welsh for Zen?, was published in 1999 by Bloomsbury, a collaboration with Victor Bockris, author of a controversial biography of Lou Reed.
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  • 1996
    Age 53
    In 1996 Cale released Walking on Locusts which turned out to be his only solo album of the decade.
    More Details Hide Details The record featured appearances by David Byrne and original Velvet Underground drummer Maureen Tucker. Nico, an instrumental ballet score and tribute to the singer, was performed by Scapino Rotterdam along with a selection from The Marble Index in 1998, with the score released as Dance Music. That same year, Cale was also the organiser of the "With a Little Help from My Friends" festival that took place at the Paradiso in Amsterdam. The concert was shown on Dutch national television and featured a song specially composed for the event and still unreleased, "Murdering Mouth", sung in duet with Siouxsie Sioux.
    Cale was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Velvet Underground in 1996, and appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2010.
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  • 1994
    Age 51
    In 1994, Cale performed a spoken-word duet with Suzanne Vega on the song "The Long Voyage" on Zazou's album Chansons des mers froides.
    More Details Hide Details The lyrics were based on the poem "Les Silhouettes" by Oscar Wilde, and Cale co-wrote the music with Zazou. It was later released as a single (retitled "The Long Voyages" as it featured several remixes by Zazou, Mad Professor, and more). Songs for Drella saw him reunited with Reed, in a tribute to one-time Velvet Underground manager and mentor Andy Warhol. In his autobiography, Cale revealed that he resented letting Lou take charge of the project. The longstanding friction between the two contributed to the passion and lurching frustration evident in the sound of the album, as did the ambivalent relationship Reed had to Warhol. The collaboration eventually led to the brief reunion of the Velvet Underground in 1993.
  • 1992
    Age 49
    In 1992 Cale performed vocals on two songs, "Hunger" and "First Evening", on French producer Hector Zazou's album Sahara Blue.
    More Details Hide Details All lyrics on the album were based on the poetry of Arthur Rimbaud.
  • 1991
    Age 48
    Then in 1991 Cale contributed one song, "Hallelujah", to the tribute album to Leonard Cohen, I'm Your Fan.
    More Details Hide Details Cale's mid-tempo acoustic version was performed on piano, and his arrangement formed the basis of most subsequent covers of the song, which has since become a standard.
  • 1990
    Age 47
    In 1990 he again collaborated with Eno, on an album entitled Wrong Way Up, the accessible and uptempo album at odds with Cale's description of the fraught relationship between the pair.
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  • 1989
    Age 46
    In part because of his young daughter, Cale took a long break from recording and performing. He made a comeback in 1989 with vocal and orchestral settings of poems by Dylan Thomas.
    More Details Hide Details Notable among these is "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night", which he performed on stage in the concert held in Cardiff in 1999 to celebrate the opening of the Welsh Assembly. The music was recorded in 1992 with a Welsh boys' choir and a Russian orchestra, on an Eno-produced album: Words for the Dying. This album also included a pair of electric piano "Songs Without Words" and a Cale/Eno collaboration, "The Soul of Carmen Miranda".
  • 1985
    Age 42
    His daughter Eden Cale was born in July 1985.
    More Details Hide Details In a last effort at commercial success, Cale recorded Artificial Intelligence, his only album for Beggars Banquet records. This album, written in collaboration with Larry "Ratso" Sloman and with compositional contributions from James Young, was characterised by synthesisers and drum machines and is entirely written in the pop idiom. It was not significantly more successful than its predecessors, despite the relative success of the single "Satellite Walk". However, "Dying on the Vine" is generally regarded as one of Cale's best songs.
  • 1981
    Age 38
    On 6 October 1981 Cale married his third wife, Risé Irushalmi, and they had one daughter together, Eden Myfanwy Cale, born 14 July 1985. They divorced in 1997.
    More Details Hide Details As a child, Cale suffered from severe bronchial issues, which led to a doctor prescribing him opiates. He would come to rely on the drug in order to fall asleep. Biographer Tim Mitchell claims Cale's early dependence on medicine was a "formative experience". Cale later told an interviewer that, "When I got to New York, drugs were everywhere, and they quickly became part of my artistic experiment". He was heavily involved in New York's drug scene of the 1960s and 1970s, with cocaine as his drug of choice. He stated to have "taken most of the available drugs in the United States." Cale has said that, "In the '60s, for me, drugs were a cool experiment... In the '70s, I got in over my head." He now feels his drug addiction negatively affected his music during the 1980s, and that he decided to clean up following a series of embarrassing concerts and the birth of his daughter. According to a 2009 BBC interview, the "strongest drug" he was then taking was tea. Cale has also hosted a documentary called Heroin, Wales and Me to promote awareness of the problems of heroin addiction, easy availability of the drug in his native Wales and thousands of addicts.
  • 1980
    Age 37
    In 1980 Cale signed with A&M Records and moved in a more commercial direction with the album Honi Soit.
    More Details Hide Details He worked with producer Mike Thorne towards this end. Andy Warhol provided the cover art, in black and white, but against Warhol's wishes Cale colourised it. The new direction did not succeed commercially, however, and his relationship with A&M ended. He signed with Ze Records, a company he had influenced the creation of and which had absorbed Spy Records, the label he had co-founded with Jane Friedman. The next year Cale released the sparse Music for a New Society. Seeming to blend the refined music of his early solo work with the threatening music that came later, it is by any standard a bleak, harrowing record. It's been called "understated, and perhaps a masterpiece." He followed up with the album Caribbean Sunset, also on Ze Records. This work, with much more accessible production than Music for a New Society, was still extremely militant in some ways. It has never seen release on CD. A live album, John Cale Comes Alive, followed it and included two new studio songs, "Ooh La La" and "Never Give Up On You". Different mixes of the two studio tracks appeared on both sides of the Atlantic.
  • 1979
    Age 36
    In December 1979, Cale's embrace of the punk rock ethic culminated in the release of Sabotage/Live.
    More Details Hide Details This record, recorded live at CBGB that June, features aggressive vocal and instrumental performances. The album consists entirely of new songs, many of which grapple confrontationally with global politics and paranoia. The band included Deerfrance on vocals and percussion. An earlier live set, consisting mostly of new material, was recorded at CBGB the previous year. It was released in 1991 as Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. The band on that recording includes Ivan Kral of the Patti Smith Group on bass and Judy Nylon on vocals.
  • 1977
    Age 34
    In 1977 he released the Animal Justice EP, notable particularly for the epic "Hedda Gabler", based very loosely on the Ibsen play.
    More Details Hide Details His often loud, abrasive and confrontational live performances fitted well with the punk rock scene developing on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Cale took to wearing a hockey goaltender's mask onstage: see the cover of the Guts compilation (1977). This look predated Friday the 13th's villain, Jason Voorhees, by several years. During one gig in Croydon he chopped the head off a dead chicken with a meat cleaver, and his band walked offstage in protest. Cale's drummer – a vegetarian – was so bothered he quit the group. Cale mocks his decision on "Chicken Shit" from the Animal Justice EP. Cale has admitted that some of his paranoia and erratic behaviour at this time was associated with heavy cocaine use.
  • 1974
    Age 31
    This era of Cale's music is perhaps best represented by his somewhat disturbing cover of Elvis Presley's iconic "Heartbreak Hotel", featured both on Slow Dazzle and the live album June 1, 1974, recorded with Kevin Ayers, Nico and Eno, and by his frothing performance on "Leaving It Up To You", a savage indictment of the mass media first released on Helen of Troy (1975), but quickly deleted from later editions of the record due perhaps to the song's pointed Sharon Tate reference.
    More Details Hide Details Both "Leaving It Up To You" and "Fear Is A Man's Best Friend" (from Fear) begin as relatively conventional songs that gradually grow more paranoid in tone before breaking down into what critic Dave Thompson calls "a morass of discordance and screaming".
    In 1974 he joined Island, working on records with Squeeze, Patti Smith, and Sham 69, among others.
    More Details Hide Details During this period, he was also a talent scout with Island's A&R department. Moving back to London, Cale made a series of solo albums which moved in a new direction. His records now featured a dark and threatening aura, often carrying a sense of barely suppressed aggression. A trilogy of albums – Fear, Slow Dazzle, and Helen of Troy – were recorded with other Island artists including Phil Manzanera and Brian Eno of Roxy Music, and Chris Spedding, who featured in his live band.
  • 1972
    Age 29
    In 1972 he signed with Reprise Records as performer and in-house producer.
    More Details Hide Details The Academy in Peril was his first project for Reprise. His third solo record Paris 1919 (1973) steered back towards the singer-songwriter mode; made up of songs with arcane and complex lyrics, it has been cited by critics as one of his best. While at Reprise he produced albums by Jennifer Warnes (her third, Jennifer), Chunky, Novi & Ernie, and the Modern Lovers, their first, which Reprise chose not to release: it subsequently appeared on Beserkley Records, the first of a number of important Cale-produced protopunk records.
    His classical explorations continued with 1972's The Academy in Peril.
    More Details Hide Details He would not compose in the classical mode again until he began composing for soundtracks in the 1980s.
  • 1971
    Age 28
    In 1971 Cale met Cynthia "Cindy" Wells, better known as Miss Cindy of the GTOs and they married soon afterward. Their marriage was rocky and they divorced in 1975.
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  • 1970
    Age 27
    In 1970, in addition to his career as a producer, Cale began to make solo records.
    More Details Hide Details His first, the pastoral Vintage Violence, is generally classified as folk-pop. Shortly thereafter, his collaboration with another classical musician, Terry Riley, on the mainly instrumental Church of Anthrax, was released, although it was actually recorded almost a year prior.
  • 1968
    Age 25
    In 1968 John Cale married fashion designer Betsey Johnson.
    More Details Hide Details The couple divorced less than a year later.
    In September 1968, Cale played his final gig with the Velvets at the Boston Tea Party and according to Tucker, "When John left, it was really sad.
    More Details Hide Details I felt really bad. And of course, this was gonna really influence the music, 'cause, John's a lunatic (laughs). I think we became a little more normal, which was fine, it was good music, good songs, it was never the same though. It was good stuff, a lot of good songs, but, just, the lunacy factor was... gone." After his dismissal from the band, Cale was replaced by Doug Yule, a singer and organist. Michael Carlucci, who was friends with Robert Quine, has given this explanation about Cale's dismissal, "Lou told Quine that the reason why he had to get rid of Cale in the band was Cale's ideas were just too out there. Cale had some wacky ideas. He wanted to record the next album with the amplifiers underwater, and Lou just couldn't have it. He was trying to make the band more accessible."
  • 1967
    Age 24
    Cale also played on Nico's 1967 debut album, Chelsea Girl, which features songs co-written by Velvet Underground members Cale, Reed and Morrison, who also feature as musicians.
    More Details Hide Details Cale makes his debut as lyricist on "Winter Song" and "Little Sister". Apart from appearing on these three albums, he also played organ on the track "Ocean" during the practice sessions to produce demos for the band's fourth album Loaded, nearly two years after he left the band. He was enticed back into the studio by the band's manager, Steve Sesnick, "in a half-hearted attempt to reunite old comrades", as Cale put it. Although he does not appear on the finished album, the demo recording of "Ocean" was included in the 1997 Loaded: Fully Loaded Edition re-issue. Finally, five previously unreleased tracks recorded in late 1967 and early 1968 were included on the albums VU (1985) and Another View (1986). With tensions between Reed and Cale growing, Reed gave an ultimatum to Morrison and Tucker, declaring that unless Cale was fired, he would quit the band. Morrison and Tucker reluctantly went along with the scheme.
  • 1965
    Age 22
    In early 1965, he co-founded the Velvet Underground with Lou Reed, recruiting his flatmate Angus MacLise and Reed's college friend Sterling Morrison to complete the initial line-up.
    More Details Hide Details Cale left the band in September 1968, owing in part to creative disagreements with Reed. Just before the group's first paying gig for $75 USD at a high school gig in Summit, New Jersey, MacLise abruptly quit the group due to viewing accepting money for art as selling out and was replaced by Maureen Tucker as the group's drummer. Initially hired to play that one show, she soon became a permanent member and her tribal pounding style became an integral part of the group's music, despite the initial objections of Cale. The very first commercially available recording of the Velvet Underground, an instrumental track called "Loop" given away with Aspen Magazine, was a feedback experiment written and conducted by Cale. His creative relationship with Reed was integral to the sound of the Velvet Underground's first two albums, The Velvet Underground & Nico (recorded in 1966, released in 1967) and White Light/White Heat (recorded in 1967, released in 1968). On these albums he plays viola, bass guitar and piano, and sings occasional backing vocals. White Light/White Heat features Cale on organ (on "Sister Ray") as well as two vocal turns: "Lady Godiva's Operation", an experimental song where he shares lead vocal duties with Reed, and "The Gift", a long spoken word piece written by Reed. Though Cale co-wrote the music to several songs, his most distinctive contribution is the electrically amplified viola and he also played the celesta on "Sunday Morning".
  • 1963
    Age 20
    In New York City Cale met a number of influential composers. On 9 September 1963 he participated, along with John Cage and several others, in an 18-hour piano-playing marathon that was the first full-length performance of Erik Satie's "Vexations".
    More Details Hide Details After the performance Cale appeared on the television panel show I've Got a Secret. Cale's secret was that he had performed in an 18-hour concert, and he was accompanied by a man whose secret was that he was the only member of the audience who had stayed for the duration. Cale also played in La Monte Young and Tony Conrad's ensemble the Theatre of Eternal Music, also known as the Dream Syndicate (not to be confused with the 1980s band of the same name). The heavily drone-laden music he played there proved to be a big influence in his work with his next group, the Velvet Underground. One of his collaborators on these recordings was the Velvet Underground guitarist Sterling Morrison. Three albums of his early experimental work from this period were released in 2001.
    He also enjoyed rock music from an early age and in 1963 he travelled to the United States to continue his musical training, thanks to the help and influence of Aaron Copland.
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  • 1942
    John Cale was born on 9 March 1942 in Garnant in the heavily industrial Amman Valley of Wales to Will Cale and Margaret Davies.
    More Details Hide Details His mother was a primary school teacher and his father was a coal miner. Although Will spoke only English, Margaret brought John up to speak only Welsh. Being unable to speak the same language as his father naturally hindered their relationship. John finally began learning English at primary school, at around the age of seven. Cale was molested by two different men during his childhood. One of the men was an Anglican priest who molested him in a church. Having discovered a talent for viola, Cale studied music at Goldsmiths College, University of London. While he was there he organised an early Fluxus concert, A Little Festival of New Music, on 6 July 1964. He also contributed to the short film Police Car and had two scores published in Fluxus Preview Review (July 1963) for the nascent avant-garde collective. He conducted the first performance in the UK of Cage's Concert for Piano and Orchestra, with the composer and pianist Michael Garrett as soloist.
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