John Cale (Carmarthenshire, 1942) is a multi-instrumentalist and co-founder of Velvet Underground together with Lou Reed. He has ranged between different sounds and melodies, playing the electric viola, the piano, and the bass. The key element of his production is experimentation.
After his childhood in Wales and the attendance of Goldsmiths College in London, Cale engaged in a trip in the United States to expand his musical influences. After he arrived in New York, he met in 1965 Lou Reed (Vocals and guitar), with whom he founded Velvet Underground, completed with Sterling Morrison (bass and guitar) and Angus MacLise (drums, later replaced by Maureen Tucker). Their first album was The Velvet Underground & Nico, published in 1967.
After White Light/White Heat (1968), the second album published with Velvet Underground, Cale left the band starting a successful solo career alongside the participation in numerous projects. His style is characterized by rock sonorities mixed with an attitude for experimentation and avant-garde.
His first solo album was Vintage Violence (1970), in which Cale played with folk-pop melodies that were then mixed with the more classical ones in the following album The Academy in Peril (1972).
With the next album Paris 1919, John Cale went back to the rock of his origins and produced songs with cryptic lyrics and baroque arrangements. This is considered by the critic one of Cale’s best albums.
Soon after some production experiences, Cale went back to the UK where he settled and published Fear (1974), Slow Dazzle (1975), and Helen of Troy (1975), a musical trilogy where the songs became gloomy, dark, and aggressive such as Cale’s performances on stage.
In 1981 John Cale tried to shift his music towards more commercial sounds and published albums like Honi Soit (1981) e Music for a New Society (1982). This latter album went unnoticed at the time but nowadays is considered by the critic as Cale’s solo masterpiece and one of the most innovative and visionary albums of all time.
In 1990 Cale released Songs for Drella, together with Lou Reed. It was a commemorative album for their friend Andy Warhol, who was one of the initial sponsors of Velvet Underground and who designed the cover of their first album: the iconic peeled banana.
During the 2000s Cole edited the soundtrack for American Psycho (2000) by Mary Harron and published HoboSapiens (2003), in which he was influenced by electronic and alternative rock music, and Circus Live (2007).
The latest work by John Cale was M:FANS (2016), an album described by the musician himself as follows: «It was the moment to delete the 1981’s despair and breathe new energy, to re-write history». To celebrate the release, Cale performed in Italy in July 2017, during the Summer in Fabrica festival in Fabrica (TV).