John Cale

One of music's great adventurers, John Cale helped shape underground rock 'n' roll with an incredible range of groundbreaking and experimental pieces of music. Born on March 9, 1942, in Garnant, Carmarthenshire, Wales, John Cale was a child protégé who composed his own piano pieces in his teens and studied classical music at Goldsmiths College, London before moving to New York in 1963 on a scholarship organized by Aaron Copland. In New York, he co-founded the Velvet Underground with Lou Reed and became the ultimate avant-garde, art rock act, supported by Andy Warhol. Although the band was largely ignored at the time, they became a significant influence on punk, new wave, and millions of other indie rock acts. Due to artistic friction with co-leader Lou Reed, John Cale left The Velvet Underground in 1968. While actively pursuing a solo career, John Cale also produced classic records for The Stooges, Patti Smith, Squeeze, The Modern Lovers, and Siouxsie and the Banshees. His solo career leapt from the grand, folk rock of debut Vintage Violence (1970) to the classical The Academy in Peril (1972) and the dark, flamboyant Slow Dazzle (1975), which featured Brian Eno and Phil Manzanera of Roxy Music. Music For A New Society (1982) and Artificial Intelligence (1985) captured some of his finest work, while he also helped popularize the Leonard Cohen song “Hallelujah” when his 1991 version was used on the soundtrack to the animated movie Shrek. The 1987 death of Andy Warhol inspired John Cale and Lou Reed to reunite and record Songs for Drella (1990) in tribute to their late champion and friend. John Cale’s next album, Wrong Way Up, was a collaboration with Brian Eno, which was followed by another collaboration album, Last Day on Earth, with Bob Neuwirth. He continued to follow his own musical path with albums such as Walking on Locusts (1996), Hobosapiens (2003), blackAcetate (2005), Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood (2012), M:FANS (2016), and Mercy (2023). In 2024, John Cale released his 18th studio album, Poptical Illusion, which featured the single “How We See the Light.”

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