Lou Reed
Lou Reed | Image: Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns

Hear Lou Reed’s Earliest-Known Demo Of ‘Heroin’

An early demo of Lou Reed performing ‘Heroin’, the iconic track by Reed’s band, The Velvet Underground, has been released. Set to appear on an upcoming compilation, it’s the earliest-known recording of the track, which appeared on The Velvet Underground & Nico in 1967.

As Rolling Stone reports, the recently-uncovered demo version sees Reed performing the track with bandmate John Cale in May 1965. This was before Reed and Cale had adopted the Velvet Underground moniker.

Lou Reed – ‘Heroin – May 1965 Demo’

The demo version is rougher than the version that featured on the band’s debut album two years later. The sound is more akin to country-folk than the harrowing final recording.

The demo will appear on the forthcoming compilation album, Words & Music, May 1965, which has been curated by the record label, Light In The Attic, and Reed’s widow, Laurie Anderson. As Rolling Stone explains, the demos were originally recorded by Reed in May 1965, who then posted them to himself as a means of ensuring copyright. The demos remained unopened and unheard for the next 50 years.

Words & Music, May 1965 will be released on Friday, 26th August. The compilation also features early demo versions of ‘I’m Waiting For The Man’, ‘Pale Blue Eyes’, and ‘Buttercup Song’, alongside even earlier recordings from 1963 and 1964.

Further Reading

Hear The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas Cover Two Velvet Underground Classics

David Bowie Says Lou Reed & Metallica’s ‘Lulu’ Was “A Masterpiece”

Lou Reed’s Final Interview Surfaces Online

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