In very sad news this Sunday, New York legend, rock pioneer, and Velvet Underground leader Lou Reed has died. The cause of Reed’s death was not announced, but he has had liver problems for some time and underwent a liver transplant in May. He was 71.
Not many people have had as much of an influence on what rock stars look and sound like as Lou Reed. Rolling Stone‘s Jon Dolan writes:
With the Velvet Underground in the late Sixties, Reed fused street-level urgency with elements of European avant-garde music, marrying beauty and noise, while bringing a whole new lyrical honesty to rock & roll poetry. As a restlessly inventive solo artist, from the Seventies into the 2010s, he was chameleonic, thorny and unpredictable, challenging his fans at every turn. Glam, punk and alternative rock are all unthinkable without his revelatory example. “One chord is fine,” he once said, alluding to his bare-bones guitar style. “Two chords are pushing it. Three chords and you’re into jazz.”
Reed was born in Brooklyn in 1942 and studied at Syracuse University with poet Delmore Schwartz. With Velvet Underground, he caught the attention of Andy Warhol and became part of Warhol’s scene. Reed said that Warhol used to project his movies onto the band.
“We wore black so you could see the movie,” Reed said. “But we were all wearing black anyway.”
Reed quit Velvet Underground in the 70s, but never retired and continued to produce and perform music prolifically throughout his life. His 2005 album, The Raven, was based on the work of Edgar Allen Poe, and in 2007 he released an ambient album called Hudson River Meditations. His most recent album was 2011’s Lulu, which was a collaboration with Metallica.
The Velvet Underground was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, and Reed has been nominated as a solo artist since, but not yet inducted.
Via Rolling Stone/Photo: WENN