Velvet Underground – Sterling Morrison’s Seafarer’s Union Membership Book/ID Document, With Original Photo and Signature

A Seafarer’s International Union Membership Book (an identity document and credential) issued to Velvet Underground guitarist Sterling Morrison, under his legal name, Holmes Sterling Morrison, Jr.  The pebble grain leatherette cover is gold stamped with Morrison’s name, and the pages contain an original photograph and Morrison’s signature, and multiple stamps indicating his payment of union dues.

After the Velvet Underground broke up, Morrison moved to Austin to attend the University of Texas, where he taught and earned a PHD in medieval literature.  Wikipedia notes Morrison began to work on Houston tugboats as a deckhand to supplement his income in the mid-1970s; when he was forced to relinquish his teaching assistantship some years later, he was licensed as a master mariner and became the captain of a Houston tugboat, a vocation he pursued throughout the 1980s.  After leaving the Velvet Underground, Morrison’s musical career was primarily limited to informal sessions for personal enjoyment, though he played in a few bands around Austin, Texas, most notably the Bizarros.  Morrison’s tenure in the capital of Texas made him a well-loved and admired member of the local music community as well as an influential voice. During John Cale’s renaissance in the late 1970s, Morrison occasionally sat in with his former bandmate. From the mid-1980s on, he occasionally recorded or performed with Cale, Reed, and particularly Tucker [and was part of the Velvet Underground reunion of 1993.]

The Seafarers International Union represents professional United States merchant mariners sailing aboard U.S.-flag vessels in the deep sea, Great Lakes and inland trades.  Morrison would have carried this booklet when working aboard boats.

This book was issued in Houston and is dated January 18, 1983.  There are fifteen stamped pages indicating Morrison paid union dues for the years 1982 through the third quarter of 1994.  It’s notable that Morrison paid dues throughout 1993, when the Velvet Underground reunited and toured Europe to great acclaim, and his last dues were paid for the third quarter of 1994.  Late that year Morrison was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, which claimed his life in August 1995.

We acquired this document from Sterling Morrison’s widow, Martha Morrison; her letter of authenticity is included, as is Recordmecca’s written lifetime guarantee of authenticity.  A one-of-a-kind Velvet Underground collectible.


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