Ffynh 2H

The keyboard player John Cale was born in Wales in 1940. He came to fame with the New York avant-garde rock band The Velvet Underground. In recent years he has given several concerts in Wales:

Echoes of the Underground

‘What’s it all about then, John, your song A Child’s Christmas in Wales? One of your more enigmatic numbers?’

Twenty years or more after buying John Cale’s classic Paris 1919 album here at last was a chance to find out – from the man himself.

John Cale, born March 9, 1942, in Garnant, South Wales, a musical prodigy and a founder of seminal rock band, The Velvet Underground, is back in Britain for a short tour, giving the Western Mail an exclusive face-to-face interview.

Cale, the quiet young Welshman who went to America on a classical music scholarship and became a big noise in the ’60s music scene, rubbing shoulders and nerve endings with Lou Reed and the late Andy Warhol, is looking good for his 50 years.

Tall, dark and dressed from head to toe in black, Cale is an intense man who savours carefully every question and nuance of conversation as we chat in his temporary ‘home’ in London’s elegant Portobello Hotel.

After leaving Amman Valley Grammar School, Cale studied musicology at Goldsmith’s College before a Leonard Bernstein scholarship took him to America.

There he performed with such influential avant-garde composers as John Cage and La Monte Young before teaming up with Lou Reed to form The Velvet Underground.

Now a resident of New York’s Greenwich Village, Cale remains a creative genius. With Reed he helped create a new sound that unsettled the rock establishment of the ’60s, before he quit to develop a solo career that has taken him on a worldwide tour of different musical genres.

He has been – and remains – a dark, introspective and enigmatic balladeer a rock’n’roll firebrand, and a composer of everything from film scores to full-length ballets. Music remains his driving force . . .

Cale has been dubbed the ‘godfather of punk’ because of the role The Velvet Underground played in the development of popular music.

He relaxes as he recalls the excitement of arriving in America after a boyhood in South Wales ... A Welsh speaker, Cale is proud of his Welsh connections, visiting when he gets the chance his relatives in Pembrokeshire.

(John Cale talking to David Vickerman, Western Mail, 20 November 1992 [Tip: daliwch Ctrl a chliciwch dolen i'w agor mewn tab newydd. (Cuddio tip)] )