New Velvet Underground Documentary Goes Deep on Feud Between Andy Warhol and Lou Reed

by Anna Dunn

A new documentary called The Velvet Underground takes a look at the feud between Andy Warhol and Lou Reed. It gives a new look at the band Velvet Underground and examines Lou Reed’s life.

When Andy Warhol saw Velvet Underground, he wound up becoming their manager. But while Warhol got them great gigs, Warhol’s relationship with the band and the way he treated people did not sit well with Lou Reed.

“Every day Andy [arrived to the Factory] ahead of me, and he would ask how many songs I wrote that day,” Reed explains in the new documentary. “I would tell him 10. He would say, ‘Oh, you’re so lazy. You should have written 15.’ 

However, The Velvets needed Andy Warhol. Director Todd Haynes told The New York Post that Warhol really helped put the band out there.

“Andy made the band visible in every conceivable way. He gave them legitimacy and visual impact,” he explained. The band’s image also closely aligned with Warhol’s own. “He called the band’s music rude and crude … like his films. His filmmaking was personified by the Velvets.”

Warhol got The Velvets some odd gigs that set them apart from the pack and also made them a part of his Exploding Plastic Inevitable at a place called the Dom. That show is often attributed to what made them famous.

But it was that show where it appears Warhol and Lou Reed’s feud deepened. First, Warhol had Polka Dots projected on Reed during that show. When asked why, Reed just sighed and said that it’s what Warhol wanted.

Lou Reed and Andy Warhol reached a Boiling Point With the Addition of a New Bandmate

Then, Warhol wanted an artist named Nico to join Reed for some songs. Billy Name, a Photographer who was at a bunch of gigs, explained that Paul Morrisey, a filmmaker, convinced Warhol to put someone “pretty” up on stage.

“Paul started convincing Andy that Lou was not that much of a good-looking guy. You had to have a beautiful girl in there,” he said. Apparently, Lou had “to be begged” by Andy before he finally admitted it was a good idea.

But then andy took it too far for both Lou and Nico when he suggested she perform inside a plexiglass box. That’s when Lou lost it on andy and fired him in 1967.

Lou explained to The Rolling Stone that Warhol tried to have a heart-to-heart with him about what he brought to the table before Lou fired him.

“He sat down and had a talk with me. ‘You gotta decide what you want to do. Do you want to just keep playing museums and the art festivals? Or do you want to start moving into other areas? Lou, don’t you think you should think about it?’ So I thought about it, and I fired him,” he said.

Warhol did not take the firing well and called Reed a “rat.” Reed and the band fired back and called him “Drella,” a combo between Dracula and Cinderella.

But when Warhol left, the band felt like they had time for a new start. They continued on without him, and felt like they were less restricted by what Haynes described as performers for “Andy Warhol’s circus.”