Little Known Facts

  • The main singer and songwriter had spent much of his past year and a half composing soundalike surf/British Invasion/hot rod tunes for a budget label looking to exploit trends, not innovate them;
  • The co-founder of the Velvets had never played rock’n’roll before the age of 22, and was still performing the most uncommercial form of avant-garde/experimental music just months before the first sessions for the banana album;
  • The drummer had performed just once in public before joining the band four months before the first sessions;
  • The drummer was recruited mostly because a) the Velvets needed an emergency replacement when their original drummer quit just a few days before their first above-ground show; b) she was the sister of a friend of the two guitarists; and c) because she had a car and an amplifier, both of which the band sorely needed to get to and play their gigs;
  • The featured singer on three of the songs, who received separate billing on the LP, was a model and actress who had barely performed live or in the studio at all, and did not speak English as her first (or even second or third) language ;
  • That featured singer had only been added to the lineup at management’s insistence three months before the first sessions, to add glamour to the group;
  • One of their two co-managers, a famous artist and underground filmmaker, had never managed a rock band before, and only did so as a way to generate money by presenting them at a discotheque in Queens;
  • The first sessions for the album, which yielded the bulk of the LP, were done at a near-derelict studio before they even had a contract;
  • The major label on which they’d pinned their hopes for a contract immediately rejected an acetate made from those sessions, giving their representative words to the effect that he was out of his mind if he thought anyone would listen to it;
  • The tapes were rejected by several other labels before they found a deal with a producer who, according to at least one account, signed them only to get the model/actress singer, not because of the band;
  • The album was subject to interminable delays, not coming out until nearly a year after all but one track had been recorded;
  • The LP was almost immediately withdrawn from distribution for legal reasons, only reaching stores again after yet another delay to change the artwork;
  • The front cover, though now regarded as a classic, caused many browsers to mistake it for a record by their famous manager, not the Velvet Underground themselves;
  • And, after all that, the album reached a mere #171 on the charts, by which time the band had fired both their famous manager and the singer for whom the label signed the Velvets in the first place.

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