Lou Reed, the lead singer and songwriter of the groundbreaking experimental rock group, the Velvet Underground and influenced generations of music artists over a 50 year career, such as David Bowie, Nirvana, REM, Iggy Pop and Patti Smith, died today at his home in Southhampton, New York at the age of 71. The cause of his death was believed to be related to a life-saving liver transplant in April. The Velvet Underground is considered one of the pioneers of indie music,
Earlier this year, Lou Reed was forced to cancel five shows in California, including an appearance at the Sunset Theater in Monterey and the massive Coachella Music Art Festival in Indio. Since the announcement of his death, many fans and famous music artists and celebrities have paid homage on Twitter, including Russell Simmons, Flea, Samuel L. Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, Justin Timberlake, The Who, tweeting “Walk on the peaceful side”and Simon Cowell describing him as "a legend". A recent posting on his Facebook page, displays a recent photo of him wearing a black t-shirt reading "Supreme", with a scrawled inscription below reading "Pa Pa loves baby". This brief message "The Door" has generated more than 25,000 "likes" and nearly 9,000 shares. "The Door", in perhaps a reference to his final exit off the stage, was also the last tweet on his official Twitter page.
Although not widely recognized in mainstream music, the Velvet Underground is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and its 1967 debut album "The Velvet Underground & Nico”, is ranked No. 13 on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”, ahead of far more familiar and commercially successful albums like the Beatles “Abbey Road”, Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. Reed's fans may well remember the iconic album cover of "The Velvet Underground & Nico" was created by legendary American artist Andy Warhol.
Despite the lack of mainstream approval, Lou Reed released 12 albums with the Velvet Underground and 24 albums as a solo artist, including the critically acclaimed “Transformer”, the 1972 album featuring his only single to crack to Billboard Top 100, the highly controversial “Walk on the Wild Side”, with lyrics referencing friends from his relationship with Warhol. Two years later, during the glam-rock era, Reed released “Rock and Roll Animal”, a live album with Velvet Underground singles like “Heroin”, “Rock ‘n Roll” and “Sweet Jane” listed on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time at No. 253 and covered by several bands, most notably Mott the Hoople’s version from the 1972 album “All the Young Dudes”.
In later years, Reed found further success, reaching No. 1 on the Modern Rock Tracks in 1989 for “Dirty Blvd.” and again in 1992 for “What’s Good”. He won his only Grammy Award in 1998 for Best Long Form Music Video, “Rock and Roll Heart”. He also cracked the Billboard 200 album charts, more than 20 times, most recently for his 2000 release, “Ecstasy”.
Lou Reed leaves behind his wife Laurie Anderson, millions of fans all over the world and a legacy that will last forever in the history of rock music.