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

New York in the 60s

Theatre of Eternal Music

Creating the drone

After Cale moved to New York on a Leonard Bernstein scholarship in 1963, he joined La Monte Young's avant-garde group The Theatre of Eternal Music. Other members are Marian Zazeela and Tony Conrad. He continues playing with this ensemble until late 1965, playing his final shows on December 5 and 6, 1965 at the Cinematheque in New York.

The music was based on the drone: holding on to the note and keeping it there for hours at the time.

"I'd never been involved of music of that kind before, where you sustained a drone for an hour and a half, every day, for a year and a half."

Young is extremely cautious about releasing the music the ensemble created - he taped all the rehearsals - and this became the source of many hassles decades after it was recorded. In 1987 he is offered a multi-album deal by Gramavision Records. He wants Cale and Tony Conrad to sign a contract to recognize him as the sole composer of the music they performed in the early Sixties. They flat out refuse to do so. Conrad goes as far as picketing Young live performances.

Inside The Dream Syndicate Vol. 1: Day Of Niagara 1965

The Dream Syndicate

Of one the groups fases, known as The Dream Syndicate, tapes have been circulating for decades. The controversial release of the Inside The Dream Syndicate Vol. 1: Day Of Niagara 1965 album in 2000 gives an idea what they sounded like.

John Cale: New York in the 1960s series

The three CDs that make up the a John Cale: New York in the 1960s series were released 2001 and contains a selection Cale's avant-garde output.

NY 60s box set

The series is also available as a 3CD / 5LP box set:

All music came out on The Table of the Elements label, founded by former Dream Syndicate member Tony Conrad.

Other records of interest:

Cale plays on two Jack Smith records:

Cale plays on an album collecting Angus MacLise recordings:

© 1999- Hans Werksman