Matt Carmichael
Sterling Morrison Remembered:
thoughts from the 'net
My thoughts, from Revelation Magazine, AU
Lou's thoughts, from The New York Times Magazine

"Somebody is going to heaven, I aint going nowhere at all". The dead of Sterling Morrison didn't draw much attention here. I read a small article about it in a small local newspaper. None of the national papers did write about it. I guess that's how it's got to be. Now we know for sure ther is never going to be another Velvet reunion again. I'am very glad I was one of the happy few to see the Velvet play at Paradiso in Amsterdam. It was a great experience!
I got to meet Sterling and Moe last year during Moe's tour. Annie's - a small club in Columbia - small stage - the whole club was about as big as your local laundromat. In fact, Sterling had to duck at times because the rafters were so low and he was so tall! I was working for WUSC at the time, so I got to interview the two of them before and after the show. Moe called from her hotel room and said that their equipment van had broken down so she would not be able to make part of the opening band's set. Anyway, I asked them both to sign my '67 Gibson - Sterling asked if I was sure I wanted him to write on it - "won't that ruin it?" No, Sterling, it didn't ruin anything - it made for one of the best nights of my life. He was so different than what I expected - he was so genuine - he actually talked about South Carolina's college football teams! From the club you could see the USC stadium and he knew the history of it and how it got funded! He was just amazing.

I tried to get some station i.d.s from him, Moe, and Victor, but my tape recorder wasn't working - I wish I had those moments on tape forever - but I don't - what I do have is a wonderful collection of the best songs, music and depth of emotion ever recorded.

I don't really know what else to say - I'm pretty upset - this should not have happened.

I am glad, however, that the media don't give a shit - I think that is what Sterling would have wanted.
Kevin Wimberly (
Columbia, SC USA - Thursday, September 21, 1995 at 13:33:10 (EDT)

These are a few words about Sterling Morrison, the guy who made me want to be a guitarist, the guy who played the most beautiful guitar solo in history (Pale Blue Eyes), and the guy who nobody outside of fans of the Velvets has probably ever heard of. I am currently studying to be an English teacher, much to the surprise of some who thought I wasn't that sort of person, but my standard reply has been: "If it was good enough for Sterling, it's good enough for me." This is just an example of how much of an impact this guy had on me. A friend of mine had met and hung out with Sterling on a couple of occasions, so for him the loss was more personal, but my loss was that of the artist and the personality, who never went on a star trip, stayed true, like Moe, to the original meaning of the Velvets as music with heart, and was the storyteller of the band, not scared to tell (or sometimes spin) tales, and not weighed under by solo ambitions, which stopped the other members from respecting the VU legacy at times. Sterling is no doubt in heaven now, jamming with Hendrix and no doubt playing rhythm guitar to rock the cosmos. In the words of Lou "Take it Sterl" all the way

from David Hirsh

Well, I suppose I should add my comments, eh? I had the chance to meet Sterling about a year ago at a Moe Tucker show. He was and incredibly articulate man comfortable talking about literature and guitar licks and the evils of cornflakes...
All I can say is grab your favorite VU disc and let it rip. Remember Sterl as he was.... A rocker through and through

Matt Carmichael (
Evanston , Il USA - Wednesday, September 20, 1995 at 10:39:06 (EDT)

I was away in another country and just today heard about Sterling's death. The Velvets... Sterling .... oh shit, I'm gonna go get my guitar.

Rob Troccolo (
Syracuse, NY USA - Tuesday, September 19, 1995 at 14:15:45 (EDT)

I'd like just to say a little about Sterling Morrison. I'm reluctant...I suppose that's becasue I didn't know him to speak of him in a personal manner. Maybe that doesn't matter. Perhaps all I have, all I need, is the music. The Velvet Underground have influenced me in so many ways...they broadened my sense of literature, for example. I don't know if it's a correct connection, but I think of their music as a wonderful fusion of literate poetry and masterful musicianship. In every word, every note, every sonic attack, I sense phenomenal artistic control. And I think that control, or harmony, if you like, in rock music is one of the most profound artistic achievements of the modern world. The Velvets did it, and Sterling Morrison did it. And not just as a musician; as a person, too. Is it not admirable that a member of a wildly influencial rock band could go on to receive numerous degrees in English, become a teacher, captain a tug boat, AND remain a hell of a nice guy? I will never forget that man, just I will never forget the day I heard "Venus in Furs." Sterling Morrison appears to have been a completed man. He had lived the lifetime between thought and expression. He was truly great.

Luke Owens (
Chestertown, MD USA - Wednesday, September 13, 1995 at 21:06:01 (EDT)

I've been trying to get a position at the Delaware Review, the school newspaper, but it's not looking too good. The reason I wanted to was to run a memorial on Sterling Morrison. It's a shame that most people will remember the month of August for the death of a certain nine-fingered guitarist, rather than the death of Sterling Morrison. Sterl and the Velvets have ment so much to me over the last few years, I don't think I'd even be here today if it wasn't for Sterling, Moe, John and Lou. But, whom am I even to speak about such matters? Sterling was my second favourite of the band, next to John, of course. I really liked the fact that he seemed to be the quiet one, and the one that was always forgotten about. Everybody remembered Lou, "the viola guy", and the girl drummer, but nobody remembered Sterling. It's a shame too. He was a great guitarist and a great guy. I really wish I could say what I wanted to, but I'm hoping that this will do justice for me...

Andrew Grypa (
Newark, De USA - Tuesday, September 12, 1995 at 16:41:04 (EDT)

I was surprised at my own reaction, how personally affected I was once the news had passed the rumor stage and into reality. I realize that Sterling Morrison was a guitarist I admired a lot, and certainly one of the most underrated and unnoticed guitarists in rock. His contributions to VU were as essential and as irreplaceable as those of the more high-profile members of the band. It bothers me a bit that it took so long for the news to travel; no offense at all to Jerry Garcia who, while I don't particularly care for his music I respect as an artist, but about thirty seconds after his last breath he was the lead news story in the major media. Sterling passes on and . . . we wonder if it's true. Despite the difference in popularity between the two bands, it has been and will always be VU that has the more lasting impact on the course of rock music, and it's sad that Sterling has never achieved greater notoriety and recognition for his contributions. It's been said that Sterling Morrison was a little irritated that VU never got voted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. Those who know me understand how I believe the HoF is a farce. Rock is a living, breathing thing and shouldn't be depicted by placing guitars and album covers behind glass like dinosaur bones or the petrified fossil of some long-dead animal. Museums are for the dead and past. The Velvets' and Sterling Morrison's legacy is alive in the succeeding generations of bands that push the envelope of rock music. The real Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is personal to each of us and burns in each of our hearts and souls in the way the music has changed and affected each of our lives, not in some institutionalized commercial vision of what best represents our music. VU has an honored place independent of committees and popular perceptions, and it can never be taken away.

Bob Farace (
Clinton, CT USA - Friday, September 08, 1995 at 01:02:34 (EDT)

Two weeks after our wedding in Oct. '95, on what turned out to be our *honeymoon* weekend, we had the distinct pleasure of seeing Moe Tucker and Sterling Morrisson at a small club in Atlanta. The mood was intimate, the crowd full of Moe's kids and their college friends, and we were right down in front, directly in front of Sterl. After the incredible show, as we mingled drunkenly with Moe and her band & family, we bellied up to the bar with Sterling, shooting the shit and gossiping about Lou & Sylvia. He was sweet, modest, and given to blushing. We had no idea he was ill...he looked pretty damn good. Thanks, Sterl. We hardly knew ya.

Will & Patsy Southerland (
Atlanta, GA USA - Monday, September 04, 1995 at 23:17:26 (EDT)

I was stricken by the news of Sterling's death, but I've gotten over it. I'm a journalist working in Australia, and I interviewed Johnette Napolitano this morning. She asked how I was and I said I was bummed out because I'd heard of Sterling's death. She simply said, "Would he want you to be?". I don't think he would. I think he would have wanted me to do what I did, which was to put on a record and listen to his playing, and remember him fondly. I'm glad he got to leave us so much of his work on so many recordings - not many people get to leave so much behind. Thanks, Sterling, and may they have guitars wherever you've gone. One day I may see you play, even still.

Simon McKenzie (
Brisbane, Q Australia - Monday, September 04, 1995 at 00:55:21 (EDT)

I didn't know that he was ill. What a shock it was reading the New York Times on Saturday. I've seen Lou, John and Mo I'll never see them together ever. Was watching the concert at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last night...didn't catch a mention of him, or of the VU that matter. Iguess that's no surprise to any of us. Just as well. I also recently viewed again Lou's MAGIC & LOSS video the day before. Sterl had cancer too. Wish I had known he was ill. Wouldv'e liked to have sent him a postcard. Goodbye Sterling Morrison.

Edgard Nau (
New York, NY USA - Sunday, September 03, 1995 at 20:21:16 (EDT)

The Velvets mean a lot to me, and hearing about Sterling's death is very saddening. I think of all the great and beautiful music he helped create. I think of that extraordinary rhythm guitar. That unique sound. I think of a music of great dignity, great honesty, great bravery and great intelligence. Though I never had the honour to meet the man, Sterling Morrison will always have a place in my heart. And I will always remember him. May he rest in peace.

Gerry McGovern (
Dublin, Ireland - Sunday, September 03, 1995 at 17:53:10 (EDT)

I am in total shock. This morning I was reading the New York Times over breakfast. When I got to the obituaries, there was Sterling's picture. I had no idea that he had been sick.
I'm gonna miss Sterling a whole lot. He was not only a kick-butt guitar player; he was also a gentleman. Just a few weeks ago I purchased the video of the VU reunion concert, and I remember watching it for the first time and thinking about how Sterling was the coolest member of the band. If Lou has the brains, John the guts, and Maureen the spirit, then Sterling had the class. With all the intensity of the band, he just stood in the background, kept his mouth shut, and whipped out monster blues licks.
Sterl was one of a kind. Thanks for all the great music, great times, and great stories, pal.
Is there any way that we can contact the family to pay our respects?

Dan Segal (
Highland Park, NJ USA - Saturday, September 02, 1995 at 11:10:32 (EDT)

I was on Moe's mailing list and she had requested people to send postcards to Sterling because he was very sick. I wrote to him saying how much I enjoyed his music and not knowing the extent of his illness- told his how much my grandkids 50 years from now will enjoy his work. In my small world it's a loss that dwarfs mr garcia's.
Brian Birzer (
Austin, TX USA - Saturday, September 02, 1995 at 01:08:45 (EDT)
Sterling is dead. Will the media notice as for Jerry? Of course not, but maybe that's for the best. Those who care share the love and the loss. We'll miss you, Sterl. Raise some fucking hell up there. Love always,

Michael Solem (
shippensburg, pa USA - Friday, September 01, 1995 at 22:15:06 (EDT)

I too was saddened by the passing of a legend. He was one person who was never given his proper place in the history of rock and roll. I looked through all of the newspapers today and could not find anything about his death. At least he had one last chance to play with the velvets before he passed away.

Steven Beck (
Woodside, CA USA - Friday, September 01, 1995 at 21:11:07 (EDT)

God, this is really screwing with me. Last night, I finished reading "Transformer" and thought to myself that although the reunion in '93 got torn apart, just maybe they would get together and do a US tour, or maybe even "Unplugged". Right before I went to my classes today, I checked the newsgroups, and someone had posted about Sterling's death. I was completely numb because I had no way of confirming it until I got home and searched some more.
There will never be a true VU reunion again, and there never SHOULD be one. I have no idea what happened to Doug Yule but if he tried to be a "replacement", I wouldn't be able to stand it. He's already destroyed the band enough.
The new boxed set should truly be a memorial to Sterling and his great talent which helped create THE best band ever. As much as John Cale's leaving neutered the band, if Sterling had ever left before the band had truly died, the VU would truly only be a speed bump in the dusty road of shitty music.
Watch out, God. You've got a helluva man coming upstairs.

Matt Smylie (
Redlands, CA USA - Friday, September 01, 1995 at 19:34:37 (EDT)

just got on to your inter net file or whatever you call it i'm pretty much a computer virgin. the unfortunate death of this great musician was sadly overshadowed by j. garcia's "untimely" demise.
it was june of this year when i first heard the vu at a party. it wasn't even a whole song now that i think about it. but christ, did it get my attention , more than all the song's courtney love and green day have ever written. it's sad to think that some one who was a part of creating such amazing music is gone. i know this may sound trite, but you did ask me to write in.
>howdy, >sorry i couldn't get back to you til now, i was at the R+RHOF opening. lou played sweet jane (with soul asylum, who if nothing else made a good backing band...) and dedicated it to sterl... i so wish it wasn't true, but it is...
>talk about magic and loss....

I noticed your post in the newsgroup yesterday....thanks for the return mail too. It's a real drag watching our heroes die from old-age disease. I guess it just strikes so heavily because these are people who launched careers and changed cultures largely based on the fact that they were young, vibrant and alive. At least that's one reason it seems so sad. The other is that Sterling seemed like he was probably one of the happiest of the VU crowd, that he'd found pleasure in the simpler things in life. And he really was an excellent guitarist.The news of Sterling's death came across while I was on the air doing my talk show. I was sad, very sad. I just wanted to home and listen to some VU albums. We talked about the band and Sterking on the air. It was not one of my better moments.

Jay Marvin

This happening so close to Jerry Garcia's death and the opening of the Rock Hall of Fame makes it so much more depressing, to see how the VU is still so underrated and ignored. My sympathy goes out to Sterling's family, friends, and students, and of course to all the other fans out there.
Matt, I figured you'd know whether or not that nasty rumor flying around in the Lou Reed newsgroup was true or not. Did Sterling die on 8/30/95?

I hope this is bullshit.