Velvet Underground – 1993 Prague Concert Poster & Ticket / Historic Concert

A poster and concert ticket from the Velvet Underground’s June 13, 1993 concert at the Cultural Palace in Prague, Czech Republic.

The Velvet Underground played a special part in the history of the former Czechoslovakia, and Lou Reed had a close relationship with Václav Havel, the country’s first presidentThis show, part of the band’s brief 1993 reunion tour, gave Czech fans their first opportunity to see this band live.

The poster is in near mint condition, with only some minor edge fraying.  The yellow ticket is held in a custom folder, with Velvet Underground artwork printed on both sides.

Poster: 22 1/4″ x 32 1/2″.  Ticket/folder: 8″ x 2 3/4″.

From the Please Kill Me website: Lou Reed visited Czechoslovakia in 1990, months after the country was freed from Soviet rule. The writer and dissident Václav Havel was, by then, the country’s president and Frank Zappa its “Special Ambassador to the West on Trade, Culture and Tourism.” Reed came not to play music but to interview Havel, one of his heroes. It was then that he learned how the Velvet Underground’s music had kept hope alive among the dissident community during the long years of Soviet rule.

[Havel] revealed the tremendous impact that Reed’s work with the Velvet Underground had had on an entire nation during a pivotal moment in its history. After the Soviet Union took control of Czechoslovakia and turned it into a satellite state in 1968, the Czech art world took a massive hit. Things were especially tough for musicians. Busking was illegal. Any music broadcast over the radio was heavily censored. Only the most banal pop was permitted. Musicians were not allowed to write songs with English lyrics or to wear their hair long in the fashion of American hippies…Before the Soviet occupation forced him into the position of a political revolutionary, he had been enjoying a career as a respected playwright and a poet, and the year before, he had traveled to New York City, where he heard the music of the Velvet Underground for the first time. Entranced, he bought a copy of the band’s White Light/White Heat LP.

The next year, as the Soviets shut Czechoslovakia off from the rest of the world, Havel’s precious copy of White Light/White Heat was smuggled from listener to listener with the utmost secrecy. Devotees of American music censored by the Soviet regime risked arrest and even imprisonment, and Lou Reed’s lyrics were especially taboo.

As long the Soviets retained control of Czechoslovakia (from 1968 to 1989,) Václav Havel remained a prominent critic of the regime’s extreme artistic censorship. By the time Lou Reed interviewed him in 1990, mere months after the Velvet Revolution, he was the 10th President of Czechoslovakia. Although he had only held office for a few months, it was already clear that Havel was a leader unlike any other. He had recently appointed the high priest of American counterculture, Frank Zappa, as Czechoslovakia’s “Special Ambassador to the West on Trade, Culture and Tourism” (a position Zappa gladly held until the U.S. government forced Havel to remove him.)

Reed was astounded to learn from Havel that the music of the Velvet Underground had directly helped to fuel the Velvet Revolution (a name given to the uprising by journalists in reference to the relatively low levels of physical violence involved; the use of the word ‘Velvet,’ was not in reference to the band.)

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