In the early 1960s, the streets of New York City’s Lower East Side and East Village were buzzing with the sounds of a burgeoning music scene. It was during this time that a group of musicians, who would later become known as The Velvet Underground, started to come together. Join Untapped New York Insiders and world-renowned Velvet Underground enthusiast, Mark Satlof, for a tour of Manhattan’s avant-garde music scene where you’ll retrace the steps of this iconic band and explore the locations that shaped their sound and legacy from 1963 to 1966!

This tour on April 14th is $5 for Untapped New York Insiders! 100% of your ticket price goes directly to your guide. Not an Insider yet? Become a member today and use promo code JOINUS for your first month free.

The Velvet Underground’s NYC Tour


The journey of The Velvet Underground began in 1963 when future members – Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison, and Angus Maclise (and later Maureen “Moe” Tucker) – started moving to New York and crossing paths in various ways. These early years as part of the city’s vibrant avant-garde music, film, and poetry scenes, laid the groundwork for the band’s formation.

Our tour begins at the pivotal Lower East Side site where the band first became known as “The Velvet Underground” in the fall of 1965. This location marks the transition from the “proto-Velvet Underground” to their official naming and is where the band experimented with their sound and recorded early demo sessions.

56 Ludlow Street on the Velvet Underground Tour
56 Ludlow Street, Photograph by Mark Satlof

More pivotal locations you’ll visit include the Grand Street loft of minimalist composer Terry Riley, a significant figure in the downtown music scene and a collaborator with future members of the Velvet Underground, the spot on Lafayette Street where the band gave their first official concert under the name “The Velvet Underground,” and The Dom on St. Mark’s Place, a performance space where The Velvet Underground & Nico first performed as part of Andy Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable in April 1966.

Throughout the tour, participants will be introduced to the vibrant avant-garde music scene of the early to mid-60s, which was instrumental in the formation of the Velvet Underground. You’ll hear about figures such as La Monte Young, Tony Conrad, and Terry Riley who played a crucial role in shaping the band’s experimental sound.

In addition to exploring the band’s musical milieu, the tour delves into the convergence of paths that led to their almost inevitable encounter with Andy Warhol, the iconic pop artist who quickly became their manager and welcomed them into his Factory scene. Participants will learn about the serendipitous events and influential figures, such as Factory figure Billy Name and filmmaker Barbara Rubin, who played a crucial role in connecting the band with Warhol. 

The tour also highlights historic buildings along the route, including neglected Federal townhouses, remnants of the German community of the East Village, and CBGBs where, post-VU, John Cale and Nico performed and Lou Reed visited. This legendary venue is included in the tour as it became synonymous with the punk and new wave movements that the Velvet Underground helped inspire.

The Velvet Underground’s NYC Tour

St. Mark's

The Velvet Underground’s New York tour offers a rare insight into the fertile downtown avant-garde music scene of the early to mid-60s. It’s a journey through time, exploring the locations and stories that shaped one of the most influential bands in rock history. For fans of the Velvet Underground and music enthusiasts alike, this tour will provide a deeper understanding of the band’s origins and their lasting impact on the music world.

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