The Velvet Underground (sometimes abbreviated as The Velvets or V.U.) was an American rock band first active from 1965 to 1973. Its best-known alumni are Lou Reed and Welshman John Cale.

Role in the fall of Communism in Czechoslovakia[]

Rock music, especially that of Frank Zappa and Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, and the Czech band Plastic People of the Universe, inspired Counterculture leaders such as Vaclav Havel (the Czech playwright, human rights campaigner who later became president) and other dissidents during their struggle against Soviet rule.

According to an interview given Punk magazine, Lou Reed claimed that when he visited Vaclav Havel after the Velvet Revolution's success, Havel presented Reed with a locally printed edition of Velvet Underground song lyrics in Czech translation. Such books had been compiled by dissidents while in prison, Havel told Reed. Havel, says Reed, explained to the surprised rock singer that the Czech Counterculture had taken the name of its bloodless revolution from the name of Reed's band, Velvet Underground.