The Life (and Afterlife) of the Velvet Underground


By Dylan Jones

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Drawing on contributions from remaining members, contemporaneous musicians, critics, filmmakers, and the generation of artists who emerged in their wake, this "monumental origin story" celebrates the legacy of the Velvet Underground, which burns brighter than ever in the 21st century (New York Times bestselling author Bob Spitz).

Variety and Concrete Islands Best Book of 2023
· A "Must Read" by Nylon,​ BookRiot, and Town & Country

Rebellion always starts somewhere, and in the music world of the transgressive teen—whether it be the 1960s or the 2020s—the Velvet Underground represents ground zero.

Crystallizing the idea of the bohemian, urban, narcissistic art school gang around a psychedelic rock and roll band—a stylistic idea that evolved in the rarefied environs of Andy Warhol’s Factory—the Velvets were the first major American rock group with a mixed gender line-up. They never smiled in photographs, wore sunglasses indoors, and invented the archetype that would be copied by everyone from Sid Vicious to Bobby Gillespie. They were avant-garde nihilists, writing about drug abuse, prostitution, paranoia, and sado-masochistic sex at a time when the rest of the world was singing about peace and love. In that sense they invented punk and then some. It could even be argued that they invented modern New York.

Drawing on interviews and material relating to all major players, from Lou Reed, John Cale, Mo Tucker, Andy Warhol, Jon Savage, Nico, David Bowie, Mary Harron, and many more, award-winning journalist Dylan Jones breaks down the band’s whirlwind of subversion and, in a narrative rich in drama and detail, proves why the Velvets remain the original kings and queens of edge.

  • Loaded is a monumental origin story about the band of misfits, discontents, and visionaries that launched punk, grunge, new wave, glam, indie, experimental, art, and maybe even spoken-word rock. Dylan Jones weaves together a propulsive yet intimate narrative driven by a cast of insiders who trace the Velvets’ rise and fall and rise again to legendary status.”
    Bob Spitz, New York Times bestselling author of The Beatles and Led Zeppelin
  • "A Velvet goldmine of a book. Honored to be in it."
    Bobby Gillespie, Primal Scream
  • "Traces the life and legacy of one of New York City’s greatest acts of all time . . . A goldmine."
  • "You might understandably think you already know this story, but in Loaded, the masterful Dylan Jones assembles a raucous symphony of voices to convince you that you don't. Smart, funny, and insightful, this spellbinding oral history guides you through the evolving meanings of the music and the lives of the Velvet Underground from the Sixties to the present day. I found it riveting from start to finish."
    Anthony DeCurtis, author of Lou Reed
  • "Riveting . . . Jones paints a vibrant portrait of the Velvet Underground’s rise against the backdrop of a 1960s New York City full of “sex, drugs, and rock and roll.” His evocative writing lends authority to insights that might otherwise read as hyperbolic, as when he describes the band’s music as 'a whirlwind of subversion that managed to epitomize the immortality of youth.' The result is a must-read for rock fans."
    Publishers Weekly, starred review
  • "More than a riveting tapestry of the New York Underground, Dylan Jones' Loaded is a perfect oral history—a blend of scholarship, testimony, and celebration of all things rock 'n' roll and all things NEW YORK! . . . From the voices of those who were there, we get a fresh take on the Velvets' origins and how their transgressive, uncompromising style influenced all Art Rock and Punk to follow . . . Here, Jones has helped to do the unthinkable: demystifying Andy Warhol and Lou Reed . . . Lou Reed himself once claimed to have graduated from 'Warhol University.' Well, Dylan Jones' book would be required reading."
    C.M. Kushins, author of Nothing's Bad Luck
  • "Dylan Jones has put the WOW back into oral histories. This collection of anecdotes about the Velvet Underground is particularly revealing of the band members and their milieu. He got all the right people to tell their tales."
    Chris Frantz, Talking Heads
  • "An informed narrative interspersed with quotes, this book paints a page-turning picture of the legendary Velvet Underground. Will appeal to general readers and rock aficionados.”
    Library Journal, starred review
  • "Delivers . . . Convincingly makes the case for the band’s historical importance."
    Associated Press
  • "In capturing such a wrenchingly unsentimental band, English journalist Dylan Jones manages to tenderly capture the love (then lore) that existed with all whom the Velvet Underground touched during their brief existence, the author included . . . [A] full-figured literary tale."
  • "Essential for Velvet diehards, but also of interest to those longing for the pre-Disneyfied New York City."
  • "Anyone who thinks there's nothing left to be said about the much-written-about Velvet Underground hasn't been listening to the right people . . . illuminating, amusing, unsparing."
    Shelf Awareness
  • "Lively . . . draws from David Bowie, Nico, Andy Warhol, and many others to tell the origin story of the pioneering art rockers."
    New York Post
  • "Tracks the strange and winding tale of the band from the inside out . . . a captivating witness account of the rise and fall of the Velvet Underground.”
  • "In-depth and eye-opening."
    Town & Country
  • "A comprehensive look at the legends."
  • "What can be said about the Velvet Underground that hasn’t already been said? A tremendous amount, actually, as Dylan Jones demonstrates in this excellent oral history of the mighty Velvets. Documentary-like, this oral history has an incredible A-list of contributors."
    Concrete Island
  • Praise for David Bowie: A Life

    “Dylan Jones has excavated the cacophony of voices that make up a life and curated a phenomenal portrait of the artist from childhood to the final days. The witnesses who comprise this oral biography animate the pages like characters in a non-fiction novel. Damn nigh peerless.”
    David Mitchell, New York Times bestselling author of Cloud Atlas
  • "Dylan Jones elevates the art of oral biography to a cinematic level."
    Robert Greenfield, Author of S.T.P: A Journey Through America with the Rolling Stones
  • "Kaleidoscopic . . . Jones thoroughly and seamlessly conveys the creativity, curiosity, and velocity of a visionary."
    Alan Light, Author of The Holy and the Broken and Let’s Go Crazy

On Sale
Dec 5, 2023
Page Count
400 pages

Dylan Jones

About the Author

New York Times and Sunday Times bestselling author Dylan Jones has written or edited over twenty-five books. In the Eighties, he was one of the first editors of i-D, before becoming a Contributing Editor of The Face and Editor of Arena. He spent the next decade working in newspapers – principally the Observer and the Sunday Times - before embarking on a multi-award-winning tenure at GQ. A former columnist for the Guardian and the Independent, he is a Trustee of the Hay Festival, and a peripatetic television producer.  In 2012 he was awarded an OBE for services to publishing. Today, he is the Editor-In-Chief of The Evening Standard.

Learn more about this author