The Velvet Underground - Richard Witts

The Velvet Underground - Richard Witts

Death and Transfiguration

The Velvet Underground - Richard Witts

Richard Witts [+-]
Goldsmiths College
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Richard Witts is a lecturer at Goldsmiths College, University of London, and the author of the award-winning biography Nico (Virgin Books 1993), presenter of the prize-winning Radio 3 documentary 1968 In America (1994) and author of the cultural history study Artist Unknown (Little, Brown, 1999), as well as many articles on music history.


On June 3rd, 1968, a year after he was sacked by Lou Reed, Andy Warhol faced a further disappointment. He was shot in the chest by Valerie Solanas, a radical feminist writer who felt he owed her money. At one point clinically dead, Warhol survived, but the wounded husk that nally returned to work was christened “Cardboard Andy” by Billy Name. Yet even Cardboard Andy retained Flesh Andy’s fetish for celebrity and, once revived, he was eager to see how the press had covered his shooting. Imagine his disappointment to learn that, just as the news of his apparent death had been breaking, Robert Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles. Kennedy – brother of the President killed in Dallas in 1963 – had just won the Californian Democrat “primary” election in the contest to become the next President, which he did on an anti-war agenda. The artist had been wiped from the papers to make way for the politician. And this is how it was for the Velvets. Whatever impact they hoped to make, events on the streets, on campuses, on the Left Bank of the Seine, in the napalmed schools of Vietnam – all conspired to make the Velvets immaterial.

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Witts, Richard. Death and Transfiguration. The Velvet Underground. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 120 - 137 Sep 2006. ISBN 9781904768272. Date accessed: 25 Jul 2024 doi: 10.1558/equinox.18850. Sep 2006

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