John Cale
Fear Is A Man's Best Friend - John Cale

Guest spots

John Cale about to record his piano part for Violence for the Marc Almond album Fantastic Star - April 18, 1994 photo: Jo Dawkins

Viola, piano etc.: John Cale

It's cool to have Cale playing on your record. Over the years he has lend a hand to a lot of bands and solo acts.

Helping out The Velvets, but not a Lou Reed album

During the sessions in 1970 for Loaded, the last studio album The Velvet Underground recorded, Cale returned to play organ on Ocean. This version did not make the album, but it resurfaced on the Fully Loaded re-issue in 1997.

"I was brought in by Steve Sesnick in a half-hearted attempt at re-uniting old comrades."

In 1988 Lou Reed wanted him to play on his New York album. American author and music critic Antony DeCurtis in his biography Lou Reed: A Life:

Reed also invited Moe Tucker to play drums on two of New York's tracks. He also planned to have John Cale play on that album, but Maher (Fred Maher who drummed on all the other tracks - HW) inadvertently sabotaged that possibility when he mentioned to Cale that Tucker would come in as well. Reed had not informed Cale, who said to Maher, "What is this, some sort Velvet Underground reunion?" That was the end of that - at least for a while.

Artists who called in Cale's help

Marc Almond - Fantastic Star

Marc Almond
Plays piano on Love To Die For on his Fantastic Star album (1996).

Animal Collective
Plays viola drone on the track Hocus Pocus on their Painting With album (2016).

Vince Bell
Plays piano on his Phoenix album (1994).

Art Bergmann
Keyboards and backing vocals on Crawl with Me, released on Duke Street CAT#DSRD31046 (CD), DSR31046 (lp), Dsrc31046 (cassette) (1988).

Big Vern
Plays keyboards and piano on various tracks of his Lullabies for Lager Louts album (1989): keyboards on Greedy, AK47, Shamrock, Where've You Been?, Empty Street; piano and backing vocals on Zoo; Welsh Ivories, crossword, squash racket on Fountain. He wrote Greedy and co-wrote AK47.

William S. Burroughs - Dead City Radio

William S. Burroughs
Writes and performs the music for Ah Pook the Destroyer/ Brion Gysin's All-Purpose Bedtime Story on the Dead City Radio album (1990).

Dying On The Vine is included on the double cd 10 Percent dedicated to the American cultwriter William S. Burroughs (1996).

Plays on two tracks Long River and Good Company of the debut album of this group (1970).

Julie Covington

Julie Covington
Plays piano and clavinet on four tracks on the Julie Covington album: (I Want To See The) Bright Lights, By The Time It Gets Dark, How and The Kick Inside (1978).

Keyboards on the Only Women Bleed single (1977). This is included on the expanded CD-reissue of the album, Julie Covington ... plus (2009).

Nick Drake
Plays on two tracks of his Bryter Layter album: Fly (viola, harpsichord) and Northern Sky (celeste, piano and organ) (1970).

Earth Opera
Plays viola on the The Great American Eagle Tragedy album by the American band. (1969).

Element of Crime
Plays keyboards on four tracks of the Try To Be Mensch album: Nervous and Blue, As Long As I Love You, Don't You Smile and Going With A Stranger (1987).

Eno - Music For Films

Brian Eno

Plays viola on two tracks of Another Green World album: Sky Saw and Golden Hours (1975).

Plays viola on Patrolling Wire Border on the Music For Films album (1978).

Louise Feron
Plays piano on the track Amour Fou of a four song promo CD Souvenirs de L'Avenir and her selftitled album (1991).

Goya Dress
Plays piano on the track Scorch on the album Rooms (1996).

Gordon Gano -Hitting The Ground

Gordon Gano
Performs Don't Pretend on the Hitting the Ground album by Violent Femmes frontman Gordon Gano. Other artists on this album include Frank Black and ... Lou Reed (2002).


Mixes and plays piano on Feel Alright, a single by New Zealand indie band Garageland. Also released on the UK edition of the Beelines to Heaven EP (1997).

Glass Harp
Plays viola on self-titled Glass Harp album (1970).

Mike Heron
Performs on four tracks on the Smiling Men With Bad Reputations album: Audrey (harmonium and bass), Feast of Steven (piano, guitar, bass, and vocal arrangements ), Warm Heart Pastry (viola) and Beautiful Stranger (piano and harmonium) (1971).

Jools Holland - Small World Big Band

Jools Holland
Cale sings I Wanna Be Around on his album Small World Big Band (2001).

Ian Hunter
Plays harp, keyboards and piano on Bastard on the You're Never Alone With A Schizophrenic album (1979).

Ivan Kral
Writes the music of and plays piano on Perfect Moon, a track of his Nostalgia album. Note: this track is sung by Patti Smith who wrote the lyrics (1995).

David Kubinec
Plays keyboards on Some Things Never Change album (1978).

Angus MacLise – The Cloud Doctrine

Angus MacLise
Four experimental recordings featuring Cale can be found on the Angus MacLise 2CD The Cloud Doctrine: Trance #1, Trance #2, Two Speed Trance, and Four Speed Trance. The tracks were recorded by Tony Conrad in New York in 1965. Cale plays guitar, viola and keyboards (2003).

Made For TV
Plays baritone guitar, synth percussion and transatlantic telephone on So Afraid of the Russians/Unknown Soldier single (1983).

Manic Street Preachers
Contributes "keyboards and noise" to Auto-Intoxication, a track of their Postcards From A Young Man album (2010).

Marie et Les Garçons

Marie et Les Garçons
Plays marimba on the single Attitudes/Re-Bop (1978).

Kate & Anne McGarrigle
Plays organ on the title track of the Dancer With Bruised Knees. Plays marimba on Be My Baby (1977).

Modern Guy
Plays clavecin, grand orgue and percussion on the Une Nouvelle Vie album. (1980).

Modern Lovers
Plays mellotron on Gilfriend and piano on Pablo Picasso on the march demo sessions at the Elektra Studios, Los Angeles, for the their first album. (1972).

Geoff Muldaur: Is Having A Wonderful Time

Geoff Muldaur
Plays viola on the track Higher and Higher on his Is Having A Wonderful Time album (1975). Muldaur provided backing vocals for Slow Dazzle.

Marissa Nadler
Performs vocals for a duet on her single Poison (2019).

Plays viola, bass, guitar and piano on the Chelsea Girl album. Winter Song written by Cale, Little Sister by Cale and Reed, and It Was A Pleasure Then by Nico, Cale and Reed (1967).

Plays all instruments on The Marble Index album (1968). An expanded and remastered resissue can be found on The Frozen Borderline 1968-1970 2CD (2007). The hidden track on Disc 2 of this set is an alternate version of Frozen Warnings with Cale playing a drone viola.

>The Frozen Borderline 1968-1970

Plays viola on Afraid, a track on the Desertshore album (1970). An expanded and remastered resissue can be found on The Frozen Borderline 1968-1970 2CD (2007).

Plays twelve instruments - organ, synthesizer, bass, guitar, percussion, piano, glockenspiel, keyboards, marimba, triangle, xylophone, cabasa - on the album The End (1974).

He acted as producer for the Camera Obscura album (1985). He also co-wrote and did a bit of vocals on the title track.

Kelly Lee Owens
Contributes a spoken word part in English and Welsh to her Corner Of My Sky single (2020).

The Replacements
Plays viola on Sadly Beautiful on All Shook Down album (1990).

The Shortwave Set
Plays viola on their Replica Sun Machine album (2008).

Sister Double Happiness
Plays Radar Blips on Heart and Mind album (1991).

Silent Shadows On Cinemaroc Island: 56 Ludlow Street 1962-1964 Volume II

Jack Smith
The album Les Evening Gowns Damnées: 56 Ludlow Street 1962-1964 Volume I includes the track Cold Starry Nights with John Cale and Tony Conrad, recorded between 1962 and 1964 (1997).

Sonics on Silent Shadows on Cinemaroc Island: 56 Ludlow Street 1962-1964 Volume II (1998).

Patti Smith
Cale plays bass on My Generation, recorded live with at The Agora, Cleveland, January 26th 1976 (1976).

Plays organ on the track Beneath The Southern Cross on her Gone Again album (1996).

Alan Stivell
Plays bass on Ever on the I Douar album (1998).


Plays viola on We Will Fall, and piano and sleigh bells on I Wanna Be Your Dog on their untitled debut album (1969).

Super Furry Animals
Cale plays piano on the track Presidential Suite on the Rings Around The World album (2001).

Tax Free
Plays violin on the track Back By The Quinnipiac on self-titled album (1970).

Trash Palace
Does the vocals on The Insult on the Positions album (2002).

Maureen Tucker - I Spent A Week There The Other Night

Maureen Tucker
Plays viola and synthesizer on three tracks of I Spent A Week There The Other Night: (And) Then He Kissed Me, I'm not and I'm Waiting For The Man (1991).

Jennifer Warnes
Contributes Empty Bottles to her Jennifer album (1972).

Yohji Yamamoto
Performs the Dylan Thomas poem Your Pain Shall Be A Music on his Your Pain Shall Be A Music album (1994).

Hector Zazou
Vocals on First Evening and Hunger on the Sahara Blue album (1992).

Sings a duet with Suzanne Vega The Long Voyage on the album Songs From the Cold Seas (1995).

© 1999- Hans Werksman