4 March 1938
Bridgeport, Fairfield County, Connecticut, United States
21 June 1979 (aged 41)
Angus MacLise (March 4, 1938 - June 21, 1979) was a percussionist, composer, mystic, shaman, poet, occultist and calligrapher. He is probably best known as the first drummer for the Velvet Underground, but had an intriguing career outside of that group.
MacLise was a member of La Monte Young's Theater of Eternal Music, with John Cale and Tony Conrad. He was brought into the Velvet Underground by flatmate John Cale. MacLise played bongos and hand drums during 1965 with the first incarnation of the band. Although the Velvets regularly extemporised soundtracks to underground films, MacLise never officially recorded with them, and is often considered something of a shadowy, legendary figure in their history. When the opportunity of the band's first paying gig at a New Jersey high school in November 1965 arose, MacLise promptly quit, suggesting the group had sold out.
He was replaced by Maureen Tucker, resulting in the "classic" lineup. In 1966, when Velvet Underground 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 notoriety (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 Nepal. 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.
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