Velvet Underground's John Cale on Lou Reed: 'I've lost my school-yard buddy'

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Image Credit: Richard E. Aaron/Redferns/Getty Images

Though they founded the Velvet Underground together and collaborated on and off for nearly half a century, Lou Reed and John Cale had a relatively contentious relationship over the course of their intertwined careers. (As recently as earlier this year, Cale expressed consternation over Reed reviving their Andy Warhol tribute project Songs For Drella.)

But that was put aside following the news of Reed’s passing. Cale took to his Facebook page yesterday to express his thoughts on his former bandmate in the wake of his death. “The world has lost a fine songwriter and poet,” Cale wrote. “I’ve lost my ‘school-yard buddy.'”

Reed, Cale, Sterling Morrison and drummer Maureen Tucker launched the Velvet Underground in the mid 1960s and produced two albums together—1967’s The Velvet Underground and Nico and 1968’s White Light/White Heat—before Cale was replaced by Doug Yule for the band’s 1969 self-titled album. Cale and Reed clashed over control of the band and its direction, with Cale always trying to pull more and more into the droning sounds of tracks like “Venus In Furs.”

Since leaving the Velvet Underground, Cale had a moderately successful solo career (his signature album, 1973’s Paris 1919, is a classic of the genre) and has also done well as a producer, primarily for late former VU chanteuse Nico.

In 1989, Reed and Cale came together following the death of mutual friend and mentor Andy Warhol. The pair had not spoken to one another for years before Warhol’s memorial service in 1987, and they reunited in 1990 to write a song cycle about Warhol called Songs For Drella. Though they didn’t tour, they did make a concert film shot by ace cinematographer Ed Lachman, which is hard to find but well worth seeing. Cale and Reed last worked together on the Velvet Underground reunion tour in 1993.

Reed passed away yesterday, October 27. The cause of death has still yet to be announced, though he had recently undergone surgery for a liver transplant.

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