The Velvet Underground. Michael LEIGH.
The Velvet Underground.
The Velvet Underground.


The Velvet Underground.

NY: MacFadden Books, (September) 1963. First edition (p/b original). Wrps., 192pp.

A "documentary on the sexual corruption of our age… a must for every thinking adult" (blurb). The cover design by the Paul Bacon Studio features a leather whip, lace-up stiletto boot, black eye-mask and a car key (Bacon also designed the cover art for 'Catch-22', 'Slaughterhouse-Five' and 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest', as well as Blue Note album sleeves for Thelonius Monk and Milt Jackson, among others).

Michael Leigh, who died less than two years after the book's publication, was previously the author of pulp novels with titles such as 'Rogue Errant' and 'Men Die Alone'. Famously, Tony Conrad found a copy lying in a Bowery street sometime during October 1965 and brought it back to the Ludlow Street apartment where Lou Reed, John Cale and Sterling Morrison adopted its title as the name for their new band (previously known as The Falling Spikes). It was seen by them as both apt and evocative, considering their collaboration with underground filmmakers; in an interview with Open City published in the following month, Lou Reed described it as "the funniest dirty book I've ever read".

As with all origin myths, there are other versions: both Hetty MacLise and Sterling Morrison, for example, have stated that it was Angus who originally found a copy whilst browsing a newsstand at Times Square subway station. Either way, the band (with Mo Tucker replacing Angus MacLise) played under their new name for the first time in Summit, New Jersey, on December 11, 1965.

A tight, square, apparently unread copy of a title not often found in its first printing, especially in this condition.