Pioneering drone music composer and filmmaker Tony Conrad dies, aged 76

Conrad was also known for his association with The Velvet Underground's Lou Reed and John Cale

Tony Conrad, the experimental filmmaker and composer associated with The Velvet Underground, has died at the age of 76.

Conrad, a Baltimore-born Harvard graduate, was revered as both a key figure in the structural film movement of the 1960s and as a pioneer of drone music, the influential minimalist style that originated in the same decade.

‘Outside The Dream Syndicate’, the 1973 album he made in collaboration with German Krautrock band Faust, has long been considered a minimalist classic.


Conrad was a member of the Theatre of Eternal Music, later known as The Dream Syndicate, an avant-garde 1960s drone music group whose lineup included The Velvet Underground’s John Cale. Conrad also played with Cale in the short-lived 1960s band The Primitives, which was fronted by Lou Reed.

Cale and Reed would go on to form The Velvet Underground, naming the band after a book they found in Conrad’s department.

Conrad’s 1966 film The Flicker is frequently hailed as a landmark in structural filmmaking and his work has been displayed in leading international museums including the Louvre in Paris and New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art. In 2011, Conrad performed at an All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in Minehead curated by Animal Collective.

Conrad died earlier today (April 9) of pneumonia following a battle with prostate cancer, The Buffalo News reports.

An event honouring Conrad’s career and retirement had been scheduled for May 2 at the University of Buffalo, where Conrad had taught since 1976.