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POP MUSIC : 2 Velvets Clash Over Warhol Films

December 17, 1995|Steve Hochman

Lou Reed refuses to let two new movies use Velvet Underground music but partner John Cale obliges with original scores.

It's almost impossible to discuss the life of Andy Warhol without getting into the music of the Velvet Underground, the band whose dark, disturbing music was the soundtrack for New York's '60s art scene.

But two upcoming films will portray episodes in the pop artist's life without a single Velvets song in earshot.

The reason: Velvet Underground co-founder Lou Reed refused permission for use of the band's music in both "I Shot Andy Warhol," the story of Valerie Solanas' 1968 assault on the artist, and "TITLE TK," about a young artist taken under the wing of Warhol (played by David Bowie) in the early '80s.

"Lou said that he didn't want anything to do with something that glorifies a despicable person," says Reed's publicist Annie Ohayan, referring to the Solanas story. "His music isn't for sale and though he hasn't read the script, the title was enough to prevent him from having anything to do with it."

That's not the way the other former Velvets, John Cale and Maureen Tucker, feel about it. In fact, Cale composed the instrumental scores for both films.

"[Reed's] decision was made in haste without actually seeing a copy of the script," Cale says. "In no way does the movie glorify her. I don't know why that presumption was part of his equation."

To replace the era ambience that the Velvet songs would have provided, several bands influenced by the group were recruited to perform either period songs or original material in that vein. Among them are R.E.M., Luna and Yo La Tengo, which appears in a party scene more or less filling in for the Velvets. An album will be released in the spring at the time of the film's release.

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