It's a sad time for the music world. Lou Reed, one of the most influential musicians of his generation, died on Sunday at 71. He died at his Long Island home, reportedly from liver disease, "peacefully, and with his loved ones around him," his doctor told the press.
Lou Reed's influence in the music world can't possibly be understated. He formed the Velvet Underground in 1966 with fellow Syracuse grad Sterling Morrison, and by the time their Andy Warhol-produced debut album was released, their impact was immediately felt. Critic Lillian Roxon wrote, "the important thing about the Velvet Underground was that in 1966 and 1967 they were as far away as a group could possibly be from the world of incense and peppermints and lollipops and even earnest teenage protest." Reed wrote primal, simple, subversive, beautiful lyrics about drugs and death as if they were everyday subjects. After he left the band in the early seventies, he continued to be a relentlessly innovative solo artist, releasing material and collaborating musically until 2011. Without Reed's words and music (and attitude, for that matter), glam, punk, post-punk, and alternative rock all likely wouldn't have happened.
It's been said over the years that only a few thousand people ever bought the Velvet Underground's albums, but every single one of them formed a rock band. Band's yesterday, today, and years from now will attempt to emulate Reed's distorted guitar hooks and streetwise delivery and swagger, and they have never, and will never, even come close. He will be greatly missed.