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Famous Like Me > Composer > M > Angus MacLise

Profile of Angus MacLise on Famous Like Me

Name: Angus MacLise  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 4th March 1938
Place of Birth: Bridgeport, Connecticut, USA
Profession: Composer
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia

Angus MacLise (1938 - 1979) was a percussionist, composer, mystic, shaman, poet, occultist and calligrapher. He is probabaly best known as the first drummer for the Velvet Underground, but had an intriguing career outside of that group.


MacLise was as an early member of The Velvet Underground, having been brought into the group by flatmate John Cale. MacLise played bongos and hand drums during 1965 with the first incarnation of the band. Although the band regularly extemporised sound tracks to underground films, MacLise never officially recorded with the group, and is often considered something of a shadowy, legendary figure in the band's history. When the opportunity of the band's first paying gig in November 1965 arose, Maclise promptly quit, suggesting the group had sold out.

Maclise was replaced by Maureen Tucker, resulting in the "classic" lineup of The Velvet Underground. In 1966 when Velvet Undergroud singer Lou Reed was in hospital with hepatitis, MacLise rejoined the group for a few performances. By this time the Velvet Underground had found some noteriety (if not great financial success) and MacLise was anxious to rejoin the group, but this was explicitly refused by Reed.

After leaving the Velvet Underground for good, Angus traveled around between North Africa, India, Greece, the Middle East and finally finding his place in Tibet. A student of both La Monte Young and Aleister Crowley(he was working a script for a film version of Crowley's Diary Of A Drug Fiend before he died), he would begin to blend Tibetan mysticism with his music to create magickal forms of transcendent sound through various drone techniques. He died of tuberculosis in Kathmandu in 1979.


Maclise recorded a vast amount of music that went largely unreleased until 1999. These recordings, produced between the mid-60's and the late 70's, consist of tribal trance workouts, spoken word, poetry, Brion Gysin-like tape cut-ups and minimalist droning and electronics. They can be currently found on:

  • Invasion Of The Thunderbolt Pagoda(Stiltbreeze, 1999)
  • Brain Damage In Oklahoma City(Siltbreeze, 2000)
  • The Cloud Doctrine(Sub Rosa, 2002)
  • Astral Collapse(Locust, 2003)

Aside from private solo recordings and his stint with the Velvet Underground, he also collaborated with Tony Conrad, John Cale and La Monte Young on several other recordings:

  • Inside The Dream Syndicate Vol.I: Day Of Niagara(Table Of Elements, 2000)
  • Inside The Dream Syndicate Vol.III: Stainless Steel Gamelan(Table Of Elements, 2002)
  • An Anthology Of Noise & Electronic Music: First A-Chronology 1921-2001/Vol.1(Sub Rosa, 2002)


Even though his music was mostly unheard, the experimental group Coil have mentioned strong influences from Maclise in both sound and lyric form. His poetry can be heard recited on the track "The Coppice Meat" and his mystical droning techniques influenced such Coil releases as Spring Equinox: Moon's Milk or Under An Unquiet Skull (Eskaton, 1998) and Astral Disaster (Threshold House, 1999). It is interesting to point out the similarities and differences between Astral Disaster and Astral Collapse. Besides the names, their cover art is strikingly similar, almost coming off as mirror images of each other. Both are experimental workouts in electronics and modular synthetics. Yet, Collapse is a compilation of recordings made during the 70's that was released in 2003, while Disaster is an album-proper released in 1999. Also, two years before vocalist Jhonn Balance's death in 2004, he expressed interest in publishing Angus' poetry in book form.

External links

  • Bio
The Velvet Underground (and Nico)
The Velvet Underground

John Cale | Sterling Morrison | Lou Reed | Maureen Tucker | Doug Yule

Willie Alexander | Angus MacLise | Walter Powers

Studio albums: The Velvet Underground and Nico | White Light/White Heat | The Velvet Underground | Loaded | Squeeze

Live albums: Live at Max's Kansas City | 1969 | Live MCMXCIII | Final V.U. | The Quine Tapes

Box sets and outtake compilations: VU | Another View | What Goes On | Peel Slowly and See

Selected best-of compilations: Rock and Roll | The Very Best of The Velvet Underground | Gold

Related topics: Exploding. Plastic. Inevitable. | Nico | Andy Warhol | Billy Yule

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Angus MacLise