Rock ‘n’ Roll legend Lou Reed passed away today, October 27, 2013. First reported in Rolling Stone online, and confirmed by the reputable New York Times with Reed's Literary Agent, the leader of highly-influential Velvet Underground is already being mourned the world over.
Born Lewis Allan "Lou" Reed in Brooklyn, New York in 1942, Reed was one of the first musicians to speak and write music about an openly bisexual, drug-infused life. In 1956, he received electroshock therapy in hopes to cure his bisexuality—an experience he wrote about in his 1974 song “Kill Your Sons”. After college and a stint with radio hosting, Reed worked as the in-house songwriter for Pickwick Records in 1964. At this job, he met Velvet Underground co-founder, John Cale. Along with Sterling Morrison and drummer Maureen Tucker, the foursome put together one of the most influential, albeit commercially unsuccessful, avant-garde Rock groups of all-time. Their 1967 album “The Velvet underground & Nico” only hit number 171 on the album charts, but its Andy Warhol banana cover is among the most widely recognized album art of all time. After only a few years together, Velvet Underground disbanded, and Reed went on to a more markedly successful solo career.
It was during Reed’s second solo album where he finally struck radio gold. Collaborating with David Bowie and producer Mick Ronson, Reed’s ode to the transgender, colorful characters of Warhol’s Factory were immortalized in “Walk On The Wild Side”. The lyrics of this song were so crafty and clever, its meaning evaded radio cencors, and the song became a mass audience hit. Reed’s best selling album was his 1974 live release “Rock ‘N’ Roll Animal”, which contained renditions of the Underground’s “Sweet Jane” and “Heroin”.
Lou Reed continued to record a variety of jazz-infused, artsy, dark undertoned records throughout his career. In 1980, Reed briefly married British designer Sylvia Morales. In 1985, Reed performed at the very first Farm Aid. Velvet Underground reunited in 1990 for a benefit concert. After a few years of touring Europe, the band once again fell apart. The group was inducted in to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, cited as a major game-changer in the history of Rock music.
Reed is known for his many collaborative songwriting efforts and guest performances, including musicians such as The Killers, performance artist Laurie Anderson, Simple Minds, Booker T. Jones, Gorillaz, Dave Stewart (of The Eurythmics), and The Smithereens. As a result of his experimental Metal/Noise band Metal Machine Trio, Reed signed up to create the collaborative Metal-Noise fusion album “Lulu” with Heavy Metal giants Metallica, to much negative criticism.
Reed’s cooler than cool, laid back personality landed his cameos in movies (usually playing himself) such as “Rock & Rule”, “Permanent Record”, “Closure”, “Prozac Nation”, and “Palermo Shooting”. He is well-know for his supportive efforts in the Free Tibet movement. His book publishings include four beautiful collections of photography: “Emotions In Action”, “Lou Reed’s New York”, “Romanticism”, and "Rimes Rhymes".
In spring on 2013, Lou Reed underwent a liver transplant. The update on his official website noted he was “bigger and stronger than ever”. The official cause of iconic Punk Poet’s death has not yet been released. We mourn the loss of a true Rock 'n' Roll treasure. Lou Reed is survived by his long-time girlfriend and artistic collaborator Laurie Anderson, whom he quietly married in 2008.