Doug Yule

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Doug Yule
Doug Yule.jpg
Doug Yule (2009)
Background information
Birth name Douglas Alan Yule
Born (1947-02-25) February 25, 1947 (age 67)
Origin Long Island, NY, United States
Genres Rock, art rock, country rock, folk, old-time
Occupation(s) Musician, singer, songwriter
Instruments Guitar, vocals, bass guitar, keyboards, organ, drums, fiddle, violin, cello, viola
Years active 1965 – c. 1977
c. 1997–present
Associated acts The Grass Menagerie, The Velvet Underground, Lou Reed, American Flyer, RedDog

Douglas Alan Yule (born February 25, 1947) is an American musician and singer, most notable for being a member of the Velvet Underground from 1968 to 1973.


Early career[edit]

Yule began playing with various bands in Boston in the 1960s. In 1968, he was in a band called the Grass Menagerie, along with Walter Powers and Willie Alexander.

The Velvet Underground[edit]


When John Cale left the Velvet Underground at the behest of Lou Reed in 1968, Yule (who had befriended the band in 1967) joined the band (then consisting of Reed, Sterling Morrison and Maureen Tucker) as Cale's replacement. Yule made his first studio appearance on their third album, The Velvet Underground (1969), playing bass and organ, as well as singing lead vocals on the ballad "Candy Says" and co-singing the chorus of the album's penultimate track, "The Murder Mystery", with Maureen Tucker. Yule's contribution to the LP was considerable, and his vocals would later come in handy on the road. When Reed's voice became strained from touring, Yule would sing lead on several songs. While Cale had been a more experimental bass player, Yule was considered more technically proficient on the bass than Cale[by whom?][citation needed] and his distinct melodic style suited Reed's desire to move into a more mainstream direction. On the band's fourth album, Loaded (1970), Yule's role became even more prominent, singing lead vocals on several songs on the LP ("Who Loves the Sun", "New Age", "Lonesome Cowboy Bill", and "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'"), and playing six instruments (including keyboard and drums). Yule's brother, Billy, also joined in on the sessions as a drummer, as regular drummer Maureen Tucker was pregnant and therefore absent for most of the recording.


Lou Reed left the Velvet Underground in 1970. Yule, Tucker and Morrison decided to continue performing as the Velvet Underground; Yule took over lead vocals and switched main instrument from bass to guitar, and Walter Powers was recruited as the Velvets' new bass guitarist.

Morrison left the group in 1971 and was replaced by Willie Alexander on keyboards, but Tucker, Alexander and Powers all left the Velvets in 1972. With other musicians, Yule did two more tours as the Velvet Underground in 1972-73 and (with Ian Paice of Deep Purple and some session musicians) recorded the album Squeeze (1973) — in essence a Doug Yule solo album, though released as a Velvet Underground album. After the final tour by the Yule-fronted Velvet Underground in 1973, the name was finally retired.

During an interview for radio on December 26, 1972, Reed was asked if he knew where Doug Yule was, to which he sharply responded "Dead, I hope." When the interviewer mentioned that he went to high school with Yule and told Reed "You can't say that", Reed retorted that he could and did say it, but that he didn't mean it. (This interview can be found on Reed's American Poet live album, released in 2001.) A year later, Reed had hung up his post-Velvet bitterness enough to contact Yule to play bass on his solo album Sally Can't Dance (1974).[1] and at Reed's request, Yule joined his band for the subsequent European tour as his guitar player. Following the tour, Yule left the group while Reed resumed work on Metal Machine Music. The 30th anniversary re-issue of Reed's album Coney Island Baby includes bonus tracks featuring Yule on guitar and bass, recorded in January 1975.

1976–1978 (session work and American Flyer period)[edit]

After a couple of years off from music, in 1976 Yule was tapped to do session guitar work on Night Lights (1976) by Elliott Murphy, and then he joined the band American Flyer later that year as their drummer and background singer.

American Flyer was an active country rock band from 1976 to 1978, and the band also featured the guitarist Steve Katz of Blood, Sweat & Tears. After securing a major-label contract with United Artists, and managing to interest George Martin enough to bring him on board as their producer, American Flyer's debut album "American Flyer" debuted at #87 on the Billboard Top 200, and they even scored a minor hit with their single "Let Me Down Easy" which debuted at #80 in 1976. Despite the promise showed on their first album, their follow-up album "Spirit of a Woman" (also produced by Martin) failed to chart as high, and didn't carry the momentum the label expected, and the band decided to hang it up.[2][3] After American Flyer disbanded, Yule retired from doing music full-time, and became a cabinetmaker and a luthier of violins.


When the Velvet Underground reformed in the early 1993, Sterling Morrison had campaigned for Yule's involvement, but Lou Reed and John Cale ultimately overruled him, thus leaving Yule off the band's six-week reunion tour of Europe, and the subsequent live album Live MCMXCIII. Following the continual interest in The Velvet Underground, and partly due to the publicity of the band's released box set Peel Slowly and See in 1995, Yule, who had, by then, moved to the San Francisco Bay area, returned to public life, again giving interviews to journalists and various fanzines about his time in the Velvet Underground.[1] In one of them, he wrote an obituary for Sterling Morrison, who had died in 1995.[4]

Yule was not included in the original line-up for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame when the Velvet Underground were inducted in 1996, despite his involvement with the band's third and fourth albums, The Velvet Underground, and Loaded. Despite this, Yule remains a member of the Velvet business partnership, and continued to give the occasional interview about his time in the group. After having taken up the violin, Yule began to record music again in 1997. A song called "Beginning To Get It" appeared on the compilation A Place to Call Home in 1998. He played some concerts in 2000, while the live album Live in Seattle was released in Japan in 2002. He also featured on Tucker's live album Moe Rocks Terrastock.

On August 31, 2006, Yule performed for the first time in public in New York City, in over 30 years, with Mark Gardener of Ride at Pianos.

On December 8, 2009, Yule appeared with his former Velvet Underground bandmates Lou Reed and Maureen Tucker at the New York Public Library, to commemorate the publishing of "The Velvet Underground - New York Art", a collection of rare photographs of the band's first performance in New York City to Andy Warhol's cover designs. They conducted a Q & A with a sold-out live audience, and David Fricke acted as moderator to the event.

Personal life[edit]

Yule currently lives in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle, Washington, with his partner Beth, his son Dan, and two dogs. He plays fiddle and builds violins. In 2006, in addition to his appearance with Mark Gardener, he played bass on a brief tour with The Weisstronauts, a Boston surf rock group. In 2007 he was playing in an old-time band called RedDog.


With the Velvet Underground[edit]

With Lou Reed[edit]

With American Flyer[edit]


With RedDog[edit]



  1. ^ a b Unterberger, Richie. "Doug Yule - biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-06-10. 
  2. ^ Ruhlmann, William. "American Flyer - biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-06-10. 
  3. ^ Landemaine, Oliver. "Doug Yule - Discography". Retrieved 2009-06-10. 
  4. ^ ""Sterling Memories" by Doug Yule, ''The Velvet Underground fanzine'', Volume 5, Winter/Spring 1996". 2008-10-25. Retrieved 2011-09-08. 

External links[edit]